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Alternative Souvenirs from Zambales

Zambales

Angelica Valdez
Angelica Valdez | Aug 15, 2018
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For most of us, traveling is a way to see beautiful sites, try delicious food, and have new experiences. While we’re busy checking things off our bucket lists, it’s easy to forget how powerful travel can be as a way to transform the lives of the locals in our favorite destinations.

Tucked away in the mountain ranges and fresh rivers of San Felipe, Zambales, not far from the popular Liwliwa beach, is the Aeta village of Yangil. The Aetas of Yangil are indigenous people, with their own unique culture and way of life. Two decades ago, their land, livelihoods, and much of their culture were wiped out by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Thanks to travel and tourism, however, the community has finally been able to recover.

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The Aeta village is the host of MAD Travel’s Tribes and Treks tour, done in collaboration with the local government of San Felipe and The Circle Hostel. The tour starts with an offbeat trek through lahar (volcanic ash) and mountain rivers, a stop at the village tree nursery to help reforest the Aeta ancestral domain, and ends in the village itself, with fresh Filipino food and activities like native archery, herbal medicine demos, and indigenous songs and dances. Read more about the Tribes and Treks tour here.

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The Tribes and Treks tour has helped renew the spirits of the Aeta village. The interest and positive responses of the guests have reminded the Aetas of their rich resources, beautiful culture, and productive skills. Today, several members of the community have taken it upon themselves to use their resources, culture, and skills to create unique handcrafted products that the village can be proud of and  that help kids go to school, mothers provide for their families, and elders pass on their passions.

Lolo Doyong’s Native Flutes, and Bows and Arrows

Lolo Doyong is the village’s master archer with a passion for playing the flute. Until recently, he had nobody with who to share his skills and songs. Since so many guests have enjoyed trying their hand at beating Lolo Doyong’s bullseye and watching him play his songs, Lolo Doyong now makes souvenir flutes and bows and arrows that guests can take home to practice with.

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The Nanays’ Bamboo Straws and Woven Plates

Due to lack of resources and no connection to markets, the nanays (mothers) of Yangil village did not have sources of income or ways to use their skills. Today, with help from MAD Travel and the Tribes and Treks tour, the nanays make bamboo straws (normal size and milk tea size, which are now being sourced by restaurants and cafes all over Manila) and hand-woven plates and baskets.

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Princess and Rihanna’s Friendship Bracelets

Princess and Rihanna are two of the bright and energetic kids of the village. To help support their families, these young girls braid colorful bracelets that fund their baon (food allowance) for school days.

Visit the Aeta village of Yangil, experience its culture, and see how travel can positively  transform not just your lives, but the lives of destination locals as well. The Tribes and Treks tour runs every Saturday. Sign up here.

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