Bukidnon with the Aetas

By Kage Gozun

Over the summer, I took a life changing trip to Bukidnon with a team made up of three of us from The Circle Hostel, three Aeta (Indigenous People) Chieftains and their pastor/head of their organization. Our goal: to learn as much as we could from the Hineleban Foundation about rain forest reforestation, food security programs and also exchange information between IP tribes.
When we ended our Bukidnon trip, I remember telling a friend of mine that the experience was both amazing and terrifying. She asked me, privately, why I would say I was terrified. And it took me a while to put it all into words but here it is, in my roundabout, very wordy, kind of way.

A chieftain shows me harvested adlai crop that we learned about while visiting the Hinelaban Foundation.

A chieftain shows me harvested adlai crop that we learned about while visiting the Hinelaban Foundation.


There was this one moment, after we had been to the Hineleban nursery, when Chieftain Erese looked at me and said “Mapapalago na din namin ulit ang mga lupa namin. Sa awa ng Diyos, di na magugutom mga pamilya namin. (We can make our lands fertile again. With God’s grace, our families wont go hungry anymore.)” And there was so much hope in his eyes. And that frightened me.

That’s when it hit me, the magnitude of this project we had undertaken and how much the Aetas were counting on us to help them. And how we can not fail them. And it scares me… to feel that responsible for someone else’s hopes and dreams. But, in that same breath, there is a feeling of excitement. Challenge accepted. Let’s do this.

The Aeta Chieftains learned about crops they can eventually grow in their own ancestral lands.

The Aeta Chieftains learned about crops they can eventually grow in their own ancestral lands.

We all know this is just the beginning and we have a long road ahead of us. And we will make mistakes and we will stumble. And there will be times where it may feel like there are too many obstacles in our way. But the first step has been taken and we all intend to keep walking this path hand in hand. Please join us in this journey. If you are interested in any way to lend a hand, lend your time, lend your talent please send me a message so we can add you to our database of Earth Warriors

To find out more about The Circle Hostel’s #TribesAndTreks program, send us an email to zambales@thecirclehostel.com and search the hashtag on Instagram.

These seedlings are growing in the Aeta nursery, a direct result of our Tribes and Treks program.

These seedlings are growing in the Aeta nursery, a direct result of our Tribes and Treks program.

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LA UNION
Barangay Urbiztondo, Circle Road, La Union, San Juan, Philippines
email: zambales@thecirclehostel.com

ZAMBALES
San Felipe, Zambales,
Philippines
email: zambales@thecirclehostel.com

BALER
Buton Street, Brgy. Sabang, Aurora, Baler, Philippines
email: baler@thecirclehostel.com