The more people access this site, the more questions I recieve in my email...
This space was created by my parents to answer some of the questions you may have about Agta Aid, providing the basis for what we are doing and what we expect to achieve with our actions. If you can't find the information you need, please write to , and I we will try to answer it.
Frequently Asked Questions...
Who are Philip's parents and how are they related to Agta Aid?
His mother is Andrea Migliano and she is a Lecturer at the Anthropology Department of University College London. She studies different tribes around the world, and among them the tribes of the Philippines. His father is Rodolph Schlaepfer, he is a Forestry Engineer and worked with conservation and sustainable development in the Global Programme of Fauna and Flora International (Cambridge,UK). For the last 12 years, they both worked with the NCIP (National Commitee of Indigenous People) in the Philippines, studying the Aetas (Zambales), Batak (Palawan) and the Agta (Isabela).
They help Agta Aid poviding information about Agta needs and supporting its actions.
Isn't it better to leave the Agta as they are?
We believe so. Unfortunatelly, the Agta are under a lot of pressure. They live in an area with invaluable natural resources, inside Sierra Madre National Park, and despite the laws and policies to protect that area, the Agta face different threats. There are around 30 groups of agtas in the region we study (Isabela). The group in Diago is under more pressure, since it is closer to Dicotcotan, a non-Agta, agricultural community. The presence of the church in that region is also changing the believes of the Agta very fast, helping to destroy their identity. Supporting the Agta to go to school is one way in which Agta Aid can help the Agta to be more prepared for the changes.
What is the Philippino Government doing to protect the Agta?
Not very much... There are many approved concetions for mining companies to operate in that area. Logging is also a threat, but the lack of roads and the mountains make both activities not very attractive. in 2007, the government approved and established APECO (Aurora Pacific Ecozone), that is implementing massive industrial and recreational centres in Casiguram region (Aurora Province). There are many groups of Agta in that region, but their rights on the "ancestor domain land" were not respected.
Do the Agta use clothes?
Only few groups. Using clothes is a very recent event for them. This is one of the reflexes of the church presence. Most of the groups use g-strings made of bark of trees. There are some pictures in our galery.
Why are the Agta so important for the modern world?
The way the Agta and other hunter-gatherer groups live and their social interactions are the basis of all societies (before 10000 years ago, all the populations around the world were hunter-gathererers); therefore, through understanding hunter-gatherers behaviour and social structures we can understand a lot about important behaviours and social structures in the modern world. In ecological terms, these groups live inside the most important forested areas of the world, using the natural resources in a sustainable way and depending on them; therefore, protecting hunter-gatherer populations, also mean protecting these forested areas from deforestation for agriculture or other purposes.
Can I go to visit and stay with the Agta?
Tourism would mean even more impact to the Agta population, and it definitly is not good for them. There are enumerous cases of tribal populations in different parts of the world (one of the worst being the Andaman Islands), which were recently decimated by tourism activities. The government prohibites tourists to go an stay with the Agta in the Philippines, and any entrance to the Agta communities have to be approved by the NCIP and local government.
Why sponsoring the Agta to go to school? is it good for them?
Ideally we would like hunter-gatherers to be left alone and to be able to chose if they want to be away from the western lifestyle, keeping their tradition and believes. If this was the case, the school as we know, would bring more problems than solutions. But there are some places where the Agta are already influenced by the western and under increadible social pressure to change. In Diago, in the last 3 years, the local church arrived and started imposing their changes and local agriculturalists are cutting down the forests and planting rice. Currently, most of the Agta Children from Diago are going to school in Dicotcotan. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable and irreversible process. Once in the school, the Agta children are suffering for not having the same background and financial status of the other kids. This situation compromises the Agta’s self-steem.
Are they protected inside the National Park?
In theory they should be, but there are lots of logging and mining activities in their land, and most of them authorised by the governmental agencies. The National Park is managed by a committee composed by 32 members. The Agta people have 12 seats in this committee, but they don't attend the meetings since most times these meetings are in English and or Tagalog (the Agta don't understand these languages). It is necessary to develop tools to empower the Agta, increasing their participation in the National Park Committee, and improving the protection of their forest.
What is Agta Aid doing to help the Agta?
Agta Aid aims to provide "tools" for the Agta children to improve their native culture and concepts about our world, helping them to be represented and protect their forest and culture. Agta aid was first created to provide school material for the Agta kids. The second phase of Agta Aid provisioned the school with a Library and trained an Agta teacher at COSeL (Lyceum of the Philippines University), to develop educational activities with the Agta kids in their native language, Agta Paranan. Currently, Agta Aid is sponsoring this local teacher and educational activities with the kids. Agta Aid in a partnership with COSeL and Resilience Project (University College London), is developing the first educational books in Agta Paranan language. The local teacher will also use this material during the educational activities, reinforcing the Agta culture.