From owner-TAINO-L@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU Sun Sep 22 01:00:05 2002
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 00:44:19 -0500
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Subject: TAINO-L Digest—10 Sep 2002 to 21 Sep 2002 (#2002-82)

Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 11:43:53 -0400
From: Sub-Chief Carlos Rodriguez <Tribal-Affairs@TAINO-TRIBE.ORG>
Subject: Fw: Land for the Agta on San-Ildefonso Peninsula

----- Original Message -----
From: Hartmut Heller <>
To: Ramon Rivera <>
Sent: Friday, September 20, 2002 9:55 AM
Subject: Land for the Agta on San-Ildefonso Peninsula

Land for the Agta on San-Ildefonso Peninsula

Friends of Peoples Close to Nature (Germany), 22 September 2002

Request for Finance to Purchase Land for the Agta on San-Ildefonso Peninsula

The organisation Friends of Peoples close to Nature has been given the opportunity to buy another 10 Hectares of cheap land on San-Ildefonso peninsula for the Agta.

Since time immemorial Agta have lived in the Sierra Madre and on the Pacific coast including the San-Ildefonso peninsula. Agta are Negritos. The Negrito race is by far the oldest one in Southeast Asia and adjacent Oceania. Like all Negritos the Agta traditionally live a vagrant hunter-gatherer life in the natural forests.

Within the past 20 years Malay o-Filipinos, the mainstream society on the Philippine archipelagos, have intruded and stolen almost all the ancestral Agta land. Agta are seen as inferior and are de facto without rights so if a Filipino makes a claim on land where Agta live they have no choice but to move.

The San-Ildefonso peninsula, some 30 km long and 2 to 10 km wide, remained for some time one of the last retreats and strongholds of the Agta peoples. In the last 10 years however, masses of Filipinos have intruded on the peninsula, cut down the remaining forests and evicted Agta from their ancestral lands. The legal authorities never intervene.

A few years ago the the Government supported logging industry started to exploit the peninsula. Loggers do not even spare the fruit trees, used for generations, in front of Agta huts. The powerful logging interests do not tolerate any protest by Agta people.

Much of the mountainous interior of the ancestral Agta land is relatively undeveloped and therefore used as a retreat by guerrilla fighters. Agta often get caught in military conflicts with the guerrilla and are killed. In military conflicts in the 80's and 90's some three quarter of all Agta men were murdered.

Everywhere, except on the San-Ildefonso peninsula, Agta have become a tiny minority within their own lands. Additionally, within the last few years, Agta have been forcibly mixed with Filipinos and pure Agta children are now rare.

Some facts about the land The land is situated on the south-west coast of the San-Ildefonso peninsula, on the slopes of the highest mountain in the area which rises 700m above sea level. Most of the 10 hectares are covered by natural forest and the land reaches almost down to the shore. In the vicinity of the land there are some Agta families, while Filipinos, who claim much of the area, visit only occasionally.

The land is accessible by a two hour boat journey from our land in Dipuntian or, when the sea is calm, by a similar journey from the small town of Dinadiawan opposite the peninsula. There is no title for the land; we will buy the rights from a Filipino who claimed it a couple of years ago. This procedure is very common in the Philippines.

Land use Agta families, who have been evicted from their land by Filipino settlers or loggers, will be allowed to live on the land. There they will be safe from further eviction. We will take up to 10 Agta families. Other people will not be allowed to live permanently on the land. We will also allow sick Agta to stay on the land and we will treat them with appropriate medicine. Generally, Agta face difficulties in getting proper treatments in the local public hospitals.

Most of the land will be protected as a strict nature reserve. Agta will be allowed to do traditional hunting and gathering. Cutting of forest trees will be strictly forbidden.

Other f P c N activities for the Agta

1. Eco village Dipuntian (< our Dipuntian group) In 2001 f P c N purchased an initial 10 Hectares of land on San-Ildefonso peninsula.

Most of the land is declared as a strict nature reserve. Some 10 former landless Agta families live there in a small village called Dipuntian. Many more Agta want to join, hence the requirement for funds to purchase additional land.

2. Agta tribal school < P c N—Germany has recently received a 8000 Euro donation for a tribal school in Dipuntian. The school will be built on request of the Agta in Dipuntian, who want to avoid to send their Agta children to a governmental school. The school will be a cultural centre for the Agta, where Agta language, Agta culture and Agta history will be given priority. Preparations have already started and the school is due to open in early 2003.

3. Agta Ranger f P c N may receive some funds to pay two Agta rangers to protect a 20 Hectares area of rainforest, including a breeding place of the rare Philippine eagle.