From Capiz, we made a side trip to the island of Boracay not to swim but to visit the Ati community. They are the marginalized community on the island since there are lots of foreigners and migrants now living in Boracay. Atis were the original inhabitants of the island believed to be around more than a century ago.
The Ati people are the Negrito ethnic group in the Panay Island. They are genetically-related to the Negrito ethnic groups such as the Aetas of Luzon, Batak of Palawan and Mamanwa of Mindanao. Their ancestors are the aboriginals or the first inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago. With this Ati people there are four tribes namely: Tribu Tumandok, Tribu Ugyon, Tribung Aktibo and Tribu Katutubo.
There is a controversial issue over their claim of their ancestral domain. Their story has been featured on television and other media because of their battlecry to own their native land. Since the day the island became popular, more and more buildings and establishments mushroomed around the area and hence, people grab their lands and put up private resorts. It was really unfortunate that the land they were born at cannot be owned by them. However some entities support their plight. The National Commission for Indigenous Peoples supports their claim. They are also supported by the nuns of the Holy Rosary Parish Ati Mission.
On the lighter side, we had the interaction with them. They shared their rich culture and tradition by way of singing indigenous songs. An Ati mother has showed to us how to make a purse or wallet made from abaca. This one serves as one of their livelihood projects. I played with the toddlers Tristan and Lyn Rose. At first they were aloof but later they became close to me and enjoyed my company. Lyn Rose loves to make hi five with me.
Hope the general public can help in their current problem that is encroachments into their territory and another problem is the discrimination.