The Agta Tribe are a people group that is among the earliest inhabitants of the Philippines, with a proud heritage, unique culture, language and tradition. Located remotely on the San Ildefonso Peninsula on Luzon Island, they have traditionally led a nomadic hunter gatherer lifestyle for generations.
For the first time as a whole, the Agta Tribe are being directly addressed by modern societal issues. Once uninterrupted, they now have experienced societal discrimination, corporate oppression, and cultural prejudice. They have had to navigate these complex issues without basic fundamental education.
The Agta mission is to empower their youth through education. The hope of the Agta is that their rich culture and language will live on, and that they will see Agta students thrive and prosper as professionals. And be equipped to defend their tribe in the future. They have asked us to partner with them in this mission.
As civilization has continued to advance, the victims of progress are often small group of indigenous people who have no way to adapt to the rapidly changing world around them. The Agta people of the Philippines are no exception. Less than 50 years ago these semi-nomadic forest dwellers, made their living hunting in the rainforest and fishing in the coral reefs. There were no roads and almost no sounds of machinery or traffic. Now, the virgin rainforest is a memory of the past, and the coral reefs are no longer alive. Therefore, without the tools to adapt or an understanding of how to protect their rights, how can they continue to survive in this rapidly changing world?
I grew up with the Agtas. I speak their language. I was a part of their culture. And even now, I continue to wonder what I can do to help them face the modern world as it has encroached on their lifestyle. The answer, I have come to believe, is to give them the opportunity for education. In the past, they had no way to stand up for themselves. As their land was taken away, as their forest was destroyed, as they experienced prejudice from other people, they had no way to help themselves.
But now, at the request of the tribal pastors and leaders, we are offering education so that they can function in the modern world. They are so thankful for the opportunities. And they are so thankful for those of you who are helping turn their future around.