LANGUAGES MATTER! A UNESCO poster competition

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Languages Matter for the Aeta

by mark anthony manalang
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Multilingualism, the Aetas greatest weapon in globalization struggle. The Aeta are a mountain people who are dark skinned, short, small of frame, kinky haired, snub nosed, and with big black eyes. Historically speaking, the Aeta have shown resistance to change. The attempts of the Spaniards to settle them in reservations all throughout Spanish rule failed. During the early American colonization of the Philippines, the political structure of the Aeta was not disturbed. These days the Aetas have many "outside" influences on their traditional culture and lifestyle. One example is religion. Although the Spanish brought Catholicism to The Philippines, that conversion was largely restricted to the Malay population that had become the majority inhabitants. The Spanish had little contact with the indigenous peoples of The Philippines. Still Catholicism has reached many Aetas. Other "modern" influences on the Aetas include inter-marriage with Philippinos and the games of pool and basketball. That last one is a surprise when you realize that many Aetas are less that 5 feet tall! Although the Aetas were among the first inhabitants of The Philippines, natural disasters and exploitation of their land for natural resources have acted over the years to displace many of them. However, The Philippino government has recently paid more attention and respect to their heritage and way of life through organizations such as The Indigenous People Development Plan. As recently as February 2nd, 2001 the Aetas in these pictures were granted Ancestral Domain Title to their land. Aeta children go to school these days. Here the curriculum is no different from that followed by their Filippino peers. The subjects taught include English, culture and good manners.