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Pamulaklakin Forest Trail: Discovering Aetas in Subic

Pamulaklakin Forest Trail is home to a large community of Aetas in Subic. Despite urbanization, the area is preserved in respect to the true natives of Binictican hills. The local government monitors and heads the conservation of the forest housed by the tribes, and developed the spot as a tourist attraction for the community’s livelihood. Today it is one of the most popular destinations in Olongapo.

April 7, 2019 — It is easy to recognize an aeta when you see one — curly hair, small body structure, a dark complexion and friendly in nature. Upon arriving in the area, we were welcomed by Kasoy, one of the elder tribe chiefs in Pamulaklakin forest. Dressed in the aeta’s traditional attire, Kasoy introduced himself as a fully licensed guide who has already been featured in various television programs to promote and best represent the culture of the Aeta community in Subic.

At 64 years old, Kasoy seemed to master (and still enjoy) demonstrating jungle survival lectures for tourists. He has an entertaining way of showing us how to survive in the forest such as how to make fire with bamboos, prepare and cook food, create utensils and cutleries using bamboos among others. His jokes may not be at all wholesome, but he did crack us up with his wit and charm.

 

Pamulaklakin-Trail-1 Kuya Kasoy

Kasoy demonstrates how to make fire with bamboos.

Pamulaklakin-Trail-8 Kuya Kasoy

Kasoy demonstrates how to make fire with bamboos.

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Kasoy creates a spoon out of bamboo.

 

There are over 300 Aeta families under the Tribung Aetang Ampala. According to Kasoy, the earnings of Pamulaklakin Forest Trail are directly managed by the local government. The local government, then, provides each family annual financial support of ₱26,000 or about ₱2,000 a month.

 

Pamulaklakin-Trail-5 Kuya Kasoy

Kasoy offers a short prayer to the anitos before consuming a meal.

 

Part of the tribe’s culture is their belief in anitos or nature spirits. It is imperative in their tradition to acknowledge and give thanks to the spirits before partaking food or any blessings. To demonstrate their manner of worship, Kasoy left the area where he cooked and went to the middle of the rainforest to give thanks to the spirits. Oftentimes, they prepare another set of food as an offering to the anito.

The demonstration concluded with a picture-taking. Kasoy directed the session, teaching us to pose with the weapons such as bow and arrow, knives and spears.

After the interesting demonstration of Aeta culture by Kasoy, we were endorsed to Aling Teresita for the mini-jungle tour. The group and I opted for the 30-minute hike, just enough to get a glimpse of the forestry. While leading the tour, Aling Teresita and her company shared with us some of the plant species they find useful such as a plant to heal asthma and the Payapa tree which roots were used as Aeta’s hiding spot during the war.

We passed by a stream that seemed to be a favorite summer hangout by the locals, especially the kids. According to Aling Teresita, the waters are clearer during the non-rainy season. There were a few tourists who rested on the riverbank, eating their packed lunch in peace.

 

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Aling Teresita has many children whom she raised in the tribal village in Binictican hills. They wake up at the break of dawn to hunt for food and sleep around 5 in the afternoon because there is no electricity power in their area. Sun was their only source of light. Despite their living situation, she was thankful that one of her children get to study college in the city under a scholarship.

Our time at Pamulaklakin Forest Trail may have been short, but every moment was filled with insights about their way of living. The trek had some slippery parts and involved passing by creeks. Indeed, it was a walk with nature.

 

This trip was part of a media tour sponsored by Le Charme Suites. Itinerary and expense are not published.

 

Day Tour Rates

Sightseeing  Php 100/head

Mini Jungle tour  Php 100/head

Ecology tour Php 250/head

 

Pamulaklakin Forest Trail

Address: Binictican Drive, SbmaSubic Bay Freeport Zone, Luzon 2222, Philippines
Contact Number: 0929 572 1105

 

 

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