Only the “kulot” can be elected leaders in Aeta communities

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BONGABON, Nueva Ecija–In the five Aeta communities in Porac, Pampanga, only the “kulot” or the Aeta themselves can have a seat as elected and appointed leader in their their respective barangays and not any from among the “unats” or the “mestizos”.

Councilor Edwin Abuque, occupies a seat in Porac municipal government as the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR).

As representative of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the newly created Central Luzon Media-Citizen Council (CLMCC) during the group’s organizational workshop in Sevilla Paradise Resort in Barangay Labi in this town on Saturday, Dec. 9, Abuque said the four barangays of Camias, Villa Maria, Inararo and Sapang Uwak including Sitio Target in their town have passed respective ordinances allowing only their fellow Aetas to run for an elected position and be assigned with appointed positions.

Abuque, 64, was a college graduate who was nine years elected kagawad and also has become a barangay captain in Barangay Camias. He was also the former chairman of Pagkakaisa ng mga Katutubo, an Aeta organization in their place before he became an IPMR.  

Abuque was also a former teacher and a social worker.

Aeta leaders Annie Abuque and Shirley Capuno (standing far right) with the officers of the  Central Luzon Media-Citizen Council during their organizational workshop in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija on Dec. 9. Contributed photo

He explained that such ordinance which they strictly implement and abide is to help strongly pursue the preservation of their own culture, beliefs and tradition and to also ensure that the concerns of their minority tribe will be at the top priority.

“We have high respect to the “unat,” the “mestizos,” but in our communities, we, Aetas are the majority of people, we are not minority, that’s why the leaders in our areas must be from among our ranks,” he told NEWS CORE. The unat and mestizo are the non-Aeta or the non-tribe members ordinary Filipino.

Of the 10,000 Aetas in Porac, only, 15 percent are unat and mestizos. These non-native or non Aeta tribes abide with the rules and barangay ordinance pursuing protection and preservation of the Aeta culture and traditions.

Floridablanca and Mabalacat City are also Aeta communities.

Abuque haa his daughter-in-law, also a college graduate, Annie Abuque and another Aeta resident, Shirley Capuno as his appointed secretaries and staff.

Newly elected Camias Barangay Kagawad Honasan Isip said keeping their communities governed and ruled by fellow Aetas will strongly preserve their traditions and beliefs. “Ipinaglalaban namin ang aming katutubong kultura at tradisyon upang hindi mapalitan o kaya ay mahaluan,” he said.

According to Capuno, they call their God as “Apo Mallari”. They have their harvest tradition during the month of August. Among their bounty harvests are purple yam and various types of vegetables.

Abuque hails and thanked Mayor Jaime Capil for ensuring protection of their tribe through preservation of their ancestral domains and their culture and traditions.

“He valued us Aetas, we are assured that as Porac economy grows, not a single Aeta will be left behind, and we belief and salute him. He has done so many great works and services to our communities,” Abuque added.   

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