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Maalagay Dogal/Matilo, Philippines


A. Biophysical Profile

A.1. Location

The Ancestral Domain of the Ayta Abellen community is located in Sitio Maporac, Barangay New San Juan, Cabangan, Zambales. Maporac is the recipient of the first Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) in the country awarded by former President Fidel V. Ramos on March 8, 1996 at Iba, Zambales pursuant to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Department Administrative Order Number 2 (DAO 2), series of 1993. It has a total area of 6,208 hectares. But based on the latest survey conducted last 2009 pursuant to the conversion process of their CADC to Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), it has now a total area of 5,430 hectares covered by CADT No. R03-CAB-0110-151 with 2,685 hectares or 49% of the total area as an open canopy forest. The ancestral domain of the Ayta Abellen form part of one of the Key Biodiversity Area in the Philippines - the Zambales Mt. Range.

The Ayta Abellen community is composed of around 186 households or 934 individuals in several settlements. Majority of them settled in Sitio Maporac in Barangay New San Juan while some have established settlements in Sitio Tangos, Barangay Dolores and Barangay Casabaan of the same municipality. Of the total number of households, 26 of them are migrants or non-indigenous peoples.

A.2. Biodiversity

The Zambales Mt. Range is part of the Zambales-Bataan Biogeographic Zone and is considered as one of the centers of endemism of flowering plants in the country. In a study of Merrill (1923-1926) on Philippine flowering plants, he cited 21 species and 2 varieties of flowering plants as endemic to Zambales Mountain Range, including Mt. Pinatubo. According to him, there are 232 plant species in 158 genera that are also endemic to Zambales. The families that have the most number of endemic species are Orchidaceae (25), Rubiaceae (16), Euphorbiaceae (16), and Myrtaceae (14). In a later survey conducted by Elmer (1934), he recorded 39 new species in the place. These surveys showed that Zambales is one of the centers of plant diversity and endemism in the country.

In a separate study conducted in the Zambales Mountain Range by Dr. Domingo Madulid from the National Museum, he cited that there are some areas that were less affected by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, as they were in more protected slopes of the mountain range. These include Mt. Liwitan, Mt. Kimmalogong, Mt. Kontitit and Mt. Nagdalayap, all part of the ancestral domain of the Ayta Abellen in Sitio Maporac.

The result of his study showed that there are four (4) types of vegetation. These are the lowland evergreen rainforest, lower montane forest, forest over ultramafic soils, and grassland. In the lowland evergreen forest, at least ten (10) species of mature Dipterocarp trees were found in the area. Most of them are primary timber species and are of high commercial value. Several seedlings of Alupay, Bolong-eta, Malaruhat, Pahutan and Yakal were observed particularly in forests were canopy gaps are found. Mature tall trees of Almaciga were also found on the lower montane forest.

Based on the results of the resource inventory of plants inside the community declared ICCA conducted last October 20-30, 2011, findings showed that the type of forest within their ICCA is dipterocarp mixed with molave. Results also revealed the presence of 182 species (both from 2 transects and sample plots), some of which are considered critically endangered (Yakal or Shorea astylosa), endangered (Bolong-eta or Diospyros pilosanthera), vulnerable (Pahutan or Mangifera altissima) and endemic (Pamayabasen/Magarau or Phyllanthus luzoniensis based on "The National List of Threatened Plants and their Categories" released by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Some of the endemic species which have been noted to be found along the trail in Mt. Kimmalogong are Ardisia zambalensis, Dillenia luzoniensis (Dingin), Piper ovatibaccum, Phaius ramosii, and Clerodendrum philippinense. Other remaining forest cover consist of Dipterocarp species (Yakal, Lauan, Palosapis, Guijo), Almaciga, Dita, etc.

B. The Ayta Abellen and their Maalagay Dogal/Matilo

As common to most Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities, the Ayta Abellen consider their ancestral domain or territory as sacred, for their lives are deeply interconnected to it. For several generations, from their ancestors up to the present, they have developed an intimate relationship with their environment as explained in their belief that their territory is the home of Apo Namalyari their "Supreme Being" and other unseen Spirits/Deities. As related by the Elders (Apo), their "Land is Life" for it is the source food and water, source of their livelihood, their market, their pharmacy and most importantly it is the source of their traditional knowledge. Their traditional knowledge is deeply intertwined with the spiritual, cultural and economic importance of their land.

The teyem/tum-an or water spring (sibol) is also considered as a very important part or feature of their ICCA. They considered this as sacred for water is very important to the community. As described by the Elders, teyem/tum-an will not run out of water even during summer season. Protection of the source of water in the community includes the prohibition on the cutting of trees, instead, tree planting activities particularly those water bearing trees is encouraged.


kaingin" on the lower part of their ancestral domain, outside of their ICCA. Upland farms or gasak are usually planted with different variety of crops: upland rice, sweet potatoes, yams, bananas, corn, different kinds of vegetables and fruit bearing trees. Others have also established small gasak and backyard gardens near their residential area.

As stated above, the community considered their land as the source of everything: food, water, shelter, medicine. They are entirely dependent of their land or ancestral domain for their survival. The Ayta Abellen community are mostly farmers. They practice slash-and-burn agriculture.

Economic activities inside their ICCA or Maalagay Dogal/Matilo include hunting, fishing and gathering of forest products like honey and rattan. They use traditional hunting and fishing methods and techniques. In every economic activity they are governed with the idea of "sustainability" meaning to gather or get only what is enough for their needs. A particular time of the year is also set as "no hunting season" as such period is known as the "mating season of wild animals". Conduct of rituals through offerings is also a prerequisite to this as a sign of reverence to Apo Namalyari and other unseen Spirits and Deities they consider as "Guardians of their Forest"

Traditionally, what they gather from the forest like wild pigs are shared by the rest of the community. But nowadays, with increased demands of economic needs, products gathered from the forest (wild animals, honey, etc.) are being sold at the local market.


Aside from its economic importance, the Ayta Abellen community also valued the Maalagay Dogal/Matilo (ICCA) and the whole ancestral domain because of its cultural and Spiritual significance. Essentially, their lives are deeply connected to their land, their territory and its environment, the very core reason why they continue to protect and preserved its resources despite several threats brought about by illegal activities.

Below are some of the cultural and spiritual significance why Ayta Abellens continue to protect their territory:

  • The Maalagay Dogal/Matilo (ICCA) is the abode of their Supreme Being "Apo Namalyari" and other Spirits and Deities like Apo Balandang and Apo Tibuhok.
  • A sacred area called "Patolo" is believed to be the source of water that cures all kind of sickness.
  • The Maalagay Dogal/Matilo (ICCA) is the venue of culturally and spiritually important activities like rituals.ayta
  • It is the burial grounds of their ancestors.
  • The Maalagay Dogal/Matilo is dotted with several teyem/tum-an which is considered as sacred source of water.
  • The Maalagay Dogal/Matilo is their source of everything: food, shelter, water, medicine and their school. It is here where they master skills in hunting, fishing and farming.

Commercial Value of Resources

Selling of bamboo furniture and handicraft products like baskets made of rattan are sold based on orders made by customers and are not sold through mass commercial or production.

Tiger grass which is also found inside their ICCA are also utilized and made as broom and they sell it to the local market. This served as livelihood among women Ayta Abellen and this project is supported by the Local Government Unit (LGU).

Charcoal making (pag-uuling) also becomes the main source of livelihood to some community members and also from people who are not members of the Ayta Abellen community. Aside from its market value, they also use it as fuel for cooking. According to the 2009 Barangay Socio-Economic Situation, charcoal ranked as the primary product of Barangay New San Juan. Unfortunately, this is also perceived as one of the main causes of forest degradation in the area.

The declaration of portion of the Maporac ancestral domain as ICCA include regulation of charcoal making in the area. As indicated in their future land use plan, they have designated areas outside their ICCA for multiple use where they can cut trees intended for charcoal making (see attached Maporac CADT Management Zones 2012 map). Some community members have also undergone trainings on Wildlife Enforcement and are now Deputized Forest Guards (Bantay Gubat).


Philippines is known for its diversity. It is the home of 110 ethnological groups spread all over the country. They constitute sixteen percent (16%) of the national population of 88 million. One of the widespread ethnic groups in the Philippines are the Aetas.

Local History of the Aeta in Maporac, New San Juan, Cabangan, Zambales

According to the Aeta leader Ka Badong, their ancestor lived in scattered villages. The early settlements of Aeta in Cabangan were located in Mt. Binanwawan, Malhay Bato, Banayoyo, Mareglem, Gahalaw and Nangoyon-bakel. Binanwawan was taken from the word "namanuwa" which means "people gather themselves". Evidence that further reinforces the claim about the Aeta's early settlements in Mt. Binanwawan includes the pieces of broken jars, old bowls, and porcelains on its mountain peak. Presence of kamagong, mabolo and mango trees which is also another indicator of a settlement is also evident on the area.

Aeta are nomadic in nature. They historically lived in simple huts in scattered villages and survived mainly through hunting and gathering. Slash-and-burn farming or gasak also sustained their economic needs. Based on the recollections of the Aeta elders, their ancestors were said to roam around the mountain ranges of Cabangan like Mt. Liwitan, Mt. Dalayap, Mt. Binanwawan, Mt. Sta. Cruz, Mt. Patalbara and many others.

These territories which have been passed on to them by their ancestors were once covered with lush vegetation. Hardwood trees like Yakal, Lawaan, Giho, Apitong and Palumboyon were abundant. Their ancestors also gathered food and hunt wild animals like wild boar, deer, monkeys, snake and wild chickens within these territories. Among the identified hunting grounds are Mt. Sta. Cruz, Mt. Binanwawan, Mt. Patalbara, Mt. Liwitan, Tayab, Nabehe and Mt. Kimalugong. The Aeta used traditional tools in hunting food like bow and arrow, bai or booby-traps made of hardwood and bamboos and snare traps. Hunting and gathering of forest products were also supplemented with occasional fishing in rivers and creeks using wooden goggles and spear gun made of bamboo and a piece of rubber. They were entirely dependent on forest because this is their source of life. They used to live a nomadic life, today the present day Aeta were able to establish permanent residents in Sitio Maporac.

Sitio Maporac is already part of the Aeta's territory long before the arrival of any foreign and local intruders. The place was previously known as Bawkok, a fruit-bearing tree which abundantly grew near the river. According to one of the Aeta elders, Mr. Francisco Dacpano, ten (10) unfortunate events happened in Bawkok in which one of these is the reason why it was changed to Maporac. Acccording to him, there used to be ten (10) Aeta elders who were so close to each other but due to misunderstanding, close relationship were broken. They were said to argue on something, by which the informant cannot specifically tell, and never reached into a common decision then resulted to a broken relationship. Since the event, the place Bawkok was replaced with the name Maporac.

During the 18th century, Aeta's were being organized by a certain Mr. Calixto Rol, who was the President of the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribe (BNCT) according to Ka Badong. He encouraged all the Aeta settlers in the upland areas to establish permanent settlement near the towns for east access to government projects. He declared Sitio Maporac as an Aeta reservation.

In the year 1927, Maporac was resurveyed for the Aeta settlement. It was already surveyed before but the papers were not being handed to the Aetas. Because of these, Aeta's were not spared the victims of encroachment among lowlanders. Being kind in nature, the Aeta allowed the entry of some lowlanders who asked permission to utilize their lands to be used as pasture land. When this lowlander whom they identified as Jose Pidenes learned that these lands didn't have titles, he immediately applied for ownership and was able to secure a Tax Declaration declaring him as the owner of the land. This happened without the knowledge of the Aetas.

By the early 1930's, the Aeta tribe had a leader by the name Miguel Calubhay. The Calubhay clans were among the early settlers of Maporac together with the clans of Amado, Suarez, Ramos, Angkot, Magumi, Mag-ilong-gamot, Pataboworld ng and Maluyok. When World War II broke out in the 1940's, the Aetas were forced to leave the lowlands. They sought temporary refuge in the mountains. When the war ceased, the Aetas returned to their settlement in Maporac.

In the late 1940's, several logging companies owned by a certain Mr. Santos and a former mayor Juan Pastor started to operate extractive activities on Aeta territories particularly Mt. Binonton and Mt. Matagaylanom. Mr. Santos even built a saw mill on those areas.

In 1948, the anti-American guerilla group Hukbong Mapagpalayang Bayan or HMB were reported to have established base in Sitio Maporac. Aeta leaders Mr. Francisco Dimain and Esperdion Dimainimmediately reported it to the military for protection. This created fear among the natives and resulted to the displacement of some of Aetas. They temporarily transferred to Talingkawa, the present barangay New San Juan.

It was on the early 1950's that the Aetas decided to return to their settlement in Maporac. Several lowlanders extended help and further organized them. One of them was a certain Mr. Hermosilla, a member of the Army and Crispin Blanco. It was also in the 1950's that another influential person in the name of Mr. Ditso Dy, a Chinese national started his logging operations in Mt. Dalayap, Mt. Binonton and Mt. Nagbubungan. The logs were delivered to the saw mills located in barangay Sto. Nino. After Mr. Ditso's logging operation, it was followed by Mr. Tony Rodriguez. He also operated on the areas of Mt. Dalayap, Mt. Binonton and Mt. Nagbubungan. During this time, the logs were directly delivered to the saw mill of Mr. Levi in nearby Subic. Some of the Aetas were forced to work in the logging operation in order to sustain their needs.

By the mid 1950's following the end of WWII, the Aetas were led by fellow Aetas from Morasa and Payodpod. They were Mr. Domingo Oliva and Mr. Andres Atanasio, who was said to be the Governor of the Aetas. They distributed basic goods like rice, canned goods, daing, clothing, carabao and other farm tools.

It was on the year 1957 that a certain Mr. Jose Pedenes decided to develop the land he stole from the natives. He authorized his workers to bulldoze Maporac.

By the 1970's, logging operations finally stopped because forest resources were already consumed and depleted. In the same year, Mr. Pedenes fenced-off the area with barb wire to prevent the entry of the Aetas.

It was only on the same year that barangay New San Juan or the barangay of the minorities was created and it's first Barangay Captain was Mr. Francisco Dimain Sr., the father of the present Aeta leader Ka Badong.

In the year 1972, the elders of the Aeta community organized themselves and decided to return to Sitio Maporac. They destroyed the fence built by Mr. Pedenes and again started to build homes.

By the year 1980, the heir of Mr. Jose Pedenes, Anisito Pedenes requested a dialogue between the Aeta at the office of the Mayor. The Aetas were represented by a certain Mr. Vicente Abegania, Mr. Mario Rodriguez and Mr. John Sabangan. The Aetas remained strong and firm on their decisions that they will not allow Mr. Pidenes to take away their territory. It was also on the same year, that the present Chieftain MR. Salvador "Ka Badong" Dimain started to process their rights to their land and territory.

By the year 1993, Ka Badong started to process the application for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim or CADC.

On March 8, 1996, the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) was awarded to the Maporac Aeta Organization (MAO) by former President Fidel V. Ramos under his Social Reform Agenda.

Sixteen years after, in December 2010, Maporac obtained its Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), On that same year the Koalisyong Katutubo at Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI Inc. or National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines) assisted the the community in formulating its Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP). This was followed by six months of painstaking work to document, map and declare portions of its sacred sites as Indigenous Community Conserved Area (ICCA). As of the present, Maporac's CADT is yet to be awarded. Its non-awarding is the reason outsiders have intruded into the area, ignoring the tribe's land tenure.


The Maalagay Dogal/Matilo (ICCA) have been managed by the Ayta Abellen since time immemorial because of its value and importance to their lives in terms of spiritual, cultural and economic aspect. Primarily ensuring the tenurial security of their land or ancestral domain, the Ayta Abellen community look at this also as assurance of their continued protection and preservation of their culture and tradition as well as all the resources found therein.

 Spiritual/sacred sites protection

Preserve and protect the tribe's sacred sites and ritual area to ensure continued connection to their Supreme Being/Creator Apo Namalyari and other nature Spirits/Deities like Apo Balandang and Apo Tibuhok. The Tem-en/Tuyom (spring) is the source of the community's clean drinking water for both humans and animals.

 Cultural/traditional preservation

o Preserve and protect the ICCA for this also equates to the preservation and protection of their culture and traditions. In addition, the community also initiate activities that showcase Ayta culture like the annual Ayta Festival held every March. Construction of Maporac Kainumayan Institute (MKI) which serves as a museum for the Ayta community is also among the listed priority project of the community. Artifacts and other cultural relics will be displayed in the said museum.

Land ownership security

o Secure land ownership of the community through the awarding of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) which will ensure continuity of their conservation and protection efforts of their ancestral domain without being questioned as the rightful owner.

Continuous engagement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office is also being ensured by the community. At present, they are on the pipeline of being a beneficiary for the National Greening Program (NGP) implemented by DENR. The program encourages community participation in the restoration and reforestation of denuded areas. Aside from being a reforestation initiative, the NGP is also seen as a climate change mitigation strategy as it seeks to enhance the country's forest stock to absorb carbon dioxide, which is largely blamed for global warming.


Traditional Governing Structure

o Spiritual Belief – belief in Apo Namalyari as Supreme Being and other Spirits and Deities

The ancestral domain of the Ayta Abellen and their Maalagay Dogal/Matilo in particular is considered sacred because it is the abode of their Supreme Being/Creator Apo Namalyari.

It is also the abode of other Spirits like Apo Tibuhok and Apo Balandang whom they believed to be the protectors of the environment. Consulting with this Spirits is necessary especially when doing traditional economic activities. This place is highly revered that conducting ritual is necessary before entering the place.

o Apo and Council of Elders

Traditional leadership among the Ayta Abellen already existed long before the establishment of a formal form of government. The community is led by a leader called "Apo". Leaders are chosen based on his character, his ability to mediate and defend his people.

Elders or Council of Elders serve as the adviser of the Apo. Elders play an important role to the community, aside from being the adviser of the Apo, they are also the source of important information regarding customary law, customs and traditions and traditional knowledge related to the environment and resources. They are the ones who can provide history and stories about their sacred places and other important information regarding the community and their ancestral domain.

Presently, the Ayta Abellen community also established its own Indigenous Peoples Organization (IPO) called Maporac Ayta Organization (MAO). With KASAPI assistance and guidance, MAO's leader, Ka Badong has represented Aetas in national and international conferences including the latest UN-CBD Conference of Parties 11 held in India.

 Threats

o Extraction (hunting, mining, logging, fishing)


There are areas inside their ICCA and ancestral domain that are potential for mining development. The presence of chromites, nickel and talc and other minerals have attracted some "powerful" individuals' with interest in mining. In a document retrieved from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Botolan, Zambales, three small-scale mining permits have been issued by the Provincial Government of Zambales last March 2011, which aimed to extract and remove 50,000 metric tons of chromite, nickel, and other minerals inside the declared ICCA. This was granted without the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the concerned community.

The purported small-scale mining activities are actually large-scale due to use of big trucks and other heavy equipments including bulldozer and backhoes. The strong opposition of the community together with various support groups from the civil society led to a Congressional Hearing where officials from concerned Government Agencies, community representatives and other concerned individuals were summoned. The result of this hearing led to the cancellation of the extractive activity.

Charcoal Making

Charcoal making (pag-uuling) also becomes the main source of livelihood to some community members and also from people who are not members of the Ayta Abellen community. Aside from its market value, they also use it as fuel for cooking. According to the 2009 Barangay Socio-Economic Situation, charcoal ranked as the primary product of Barangay New San Juan. Unfortunately, this is also perceived as one of the main causes of forest degradation in the area.

Illegal Fishing

The continued practice of illegal fishing using "electricity" or "kuryente" is seen as one of the perceived causes on the decrease of supply of aquatic resources in the different water bodies inside the ancestral domain. The use of "kuryente" as a method in fishing results to the killing of both big and small fishes including fingerlings. Despite its negative impact to the environment, some community members still resort to this kind of practice to have an additional source of food and livelihood. The lack of knowledge on the different fishing regulations also contributes to this continued illegal practice. However, with the deputation of forest guards and wildlife enforcement officers, this is now being regulated.

Global Climate Change

The Ayta Abellen community already felt the impact of climate change especially on their traditional livelihood activities. As most common to indigenous communities, they are dependent to the environment for signs that will serve as guide in their hunting and gathering activities as well as farming. For example, the presence of a particular bird signifies season for planting. But with the sudden changes in the weather pattern, these have a direct impact on their crop production.

Nowadays, the community also experiences natural calamities brought about by climate change like floods especially during monsoon season which bring continuous rains. Incidence of landslides was also observed on some areas in their ICCA.

During summer season, intense heat is also felt by the community which causes the drying up of rivers and creeks and also of the vast cogon areas (kayabutan) which often resulted to forest fires.

Erosion of traditional knowledge/cultural change among the young

Another threat to the ICCA is the diminishing culture and traditional knowledge especially among the young. This is primarily due to the influence of religion, western education and media. However, tribal leaders and elders are now taking steps to prevent this from happening by initiating activities like revival of dances, songs and engaging in elder-youth dialogues and participation in indigenous knowledge workshops and community planning.

V. What's Next and Lesson Learned

A Community Conservation Plan (CCP) has been formulated by the Ayta Abellen community. It serves as another layer of protection of their ancestral domain. The CCP seeks the kind assistance of private and public entities with programs on conservation of biodiversity. The CCP is an expression of indigenous people's rights enshrined in national and international instruments. But more importantly, it is a people's challenge to the world for support against the destructive effects of climate change impact exacerbated by mal-development and the treatment of resources as commercial base instead of life-giving biodiversity (see attached resources).


Barangay Development Plan. 2009. Barangay New San Juan, Cabangan, Zambales

BirdLife International (2011). Important Bird Areas Factsheet: Zambales Mountains. Retrieved July 2012, from BirdLife International: Sites: Important Bird Areas (IBAs): http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sitefactsheet.php...

CCP. 1994. Aeta. CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art: Peoples of the Philippines, Aeta to Jama Mapun. Manila

DENR. 2007. The National List of Threatened Philippine Plants and their Categories, and the List of other Wildlife Species. Retrieved March 2012, from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. http://server2.denr.gov.ph/files/dao-2007-01_200.p...

DENR. 2012. The National Greening Program (NGP). Retrieved January 2013, from http://www.denr.gov.ph/priority-programs/national-...

Elmer, A.D.E. 1934. New Plants from Mt. Pinatubo. Leaflet Philippine Botanicals: 9(126):3179-3226

IUCN. 2012. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Version 2012.2. Retrieved December 2012, from http://www.iucnredlist.org/

Madulid, D.A. 1992. Mt. Pinatubo: A Case of Mass Extinction of Plant Species in the Philippines.

Silliman J. 36(1):113-121

Merrill, E.D. 1923-1926 (4 vols.) An Enumeration of Philippine Flowering Plants. Manila: Bureau of Science.

Reed, William Allan. Negritos of Zambales. Manila: Bureau of Printing.

Small-Scale Mining Permit No. 2010-098. March 2011. Office of the Governor: Province of Zambales. Retrieved Decmber 2011, from PENRO-Botolan, Zambales.

Small-Scale Mining Permit No. 2010-099. March 2011. Office of the Governor: Province of Zambales. Retrieved Decmber 2011, from PENRO-Botolan, Zambales.

Small-Scale Mining Permit No. 2010-100. March 2011. Office of the Governor: Province of Zambales. Retrieved Decmber 2011, from PENRO-Botolan, Zambales.

Contributed in March 2013