UNEP, Iriga government help Agta tribe

IRIGA CITY--Members of the Agta-Tabangnon tribe, a cultural minority group living at the foot of Mt. Asog here, have found strong partners in the University of Northeastern Philippines (UNEP) and the city government of Iriga, in their continuing quest for recognition, equal socio-economic opportunity, and better life with the signing of commitment to advance and protect their aspirations.

The commitment for this undertaking, held March 11 was signed by Delicia Alfelor- Tibi, UNEP’s vice president for Finance and Iriga Mayor Madel Alfelor-Gazmen. The ceremonial signing was witnessed by 19 Agta- Tabangnon tribal members and students of UNEP Citizen Welfare Training Service (CWTS) headed by Ella A. Pornillos.

Asisclo Bagalindoc, Officerin- Charge of the National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) in Bikol and officials and representatives of the city government’s Alternative Learning Center, Technical and Livelihood Development Center, Agriculturist Office, Social Welfare and Development Office, and the City Health Office were also present during the activity.

UNEP and the city government, through its various offices, vowed to assist the indigenous folk, residing at Parina, Perpetual Help, a village at the slope of Mt. Asog, in values education, organization and community development programs, alternative learning education, livelihood and housing assistance, and technology transfer relative to farming.

Gazmen thanked the university for its initiative in spearheading the laudable community extension service project.

“Everyone dreams [of] a bright future and everyone deserves to be given that chance. Its fulfillment might not lie solely in their hands but from people who believe in their cause. Our local government unit has committed itself in pooling every effort to realize this goal, along with other line agencies and other institution,” Gazmen said.

Tabangnons are Bikol Agta who are believed to be the offspring of the Remontado and Agta intermarriages.

Like other Agta tribes, they genetically inherited the curly hair and dark skin of their ancestors, although they are taller compared to other Agtas, since height is attributed to the Remontado physical build