Aetas face discrimination because of their diet

According to a recent study presented by the University of the Philippines, Aetas in Pampanga are now experiencing discrimination.

  • It is due to the rumors that COVID-19 originated from bats, which are a part of the Aetas’ diet. 
  • They stated that the members of the group Mag-Indi have avoided interacting with those outside their tribe because of the discrimination. 

What would you feel if you suddenly face discrimination because of what you eat? An indigenous Aeta group in Porac, Pampanga has expressed their disappointment after experiencing discrimination because of their diet that included bats.

In a press briefing of a study by the University of the Philippines (UP) and the United Nations Economic, Social, and Cultural Organization, it stated some challenges that the group Mag-Indi faced since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

There were speculations that the virus came from bats being sold in markets in China.

According to one of the researchers named July Sumayop, people have been blaming the Aetas for the virus as their diet includes bats.

“Sinasabi ng mga taga-patag na sa Aeta nanggaling ang COVID-19 na naka-ugat sa diskriminasyon,” he said.

The report stated that some Kapampangans claimed that the virus actually came from the Aetas. This accusation has made the group dread the times when they have to go downtown. They also avoid making eye contact with other people as it was believed that they are more prone to the infection and that they don’t want to bring it back to the community.

“The non-Aetas of Pampanga were reportedly spreading the rumor that the COVID-19 virus came from the IPs as they too eat bats, where the virus is reported to have emanated from in China,” the research said.

Sumayop also tackled the issue regarding the lack of help for the Aetas amid the pandemic.

“Hindi rin lahat ng katutubo ay nabigyan ng tama at sapat na ayuda. Sa Barangay Planas, pinaghatihatian ng mahigit kumulang 250 na pamilya ang ayuda na dapat ay sa 27 na pamilya lamang.”

Not only that, but they were also left behind when it comes to education as the learning modules provided to them were not written in their dialect.

“Dahil na rin sa programa ng DepEd na blended learning program na isinusulong ngayong pandemya, ay isinantabi nito ang department order na nagpapatibay sa kahalagahan ng Indigenous Peoples (IP) education curriculum integration,” he stated.

“Ang mga module ay nakasulat sa Ingles, Tagalog, at Kapampangan, ngunit walang module na nakasulat sa Aeta Mag-indi.”

The Aetas also lacked access to masks required by the local government so they had to resort to creating makeshift face masks which are made from banana leaves.

Written by J M

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