'Left with nothing': Aeta community in Batangas among affected during Taal eruption
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - January 28, 2020 - 8:53am

TAGAYTAY CITY— An Aeta community of around 69 families in San Luis, Batangas were among the residents who were forced to relocate when the Taal Volcano erupted last January 12.

This community, composed of almost 300 individuals, were residents in a seaside area in Barangay Banoyo, San Luis, Batangas. Their ancestors were formerly from Tayabas, Quezon but some of them relocated in various araeas in Batangas where they decided to stay.

Aeta chieftain Zosimo Magtibay shared that they have been in San Luis for 50 years now and are currently seeking shelter in the mountainous area of Banoyo after experiencing ashfall and a series of earthquakes due to Taal unrest.

“Noong nagdilim na ho ang dagat, nag-ahon na kami lahat ng mga kasama ko,” Magtibay told Philstar.com, citing that the seaside was covered with volcano ashes.

(When the seas darkened, we all went up)

“Natatakot ang mga bata.. Para maligtas, nung Lunes ng umaga (January 13), kami ay tumaas na sa bundok,” he added.

(The children are scared. To rescue them, we went to the mountains on Monday morning (January 13),

Magtibay said they also have chickens and dogs left at the seaside, which are being fed by their members from time to time.

Ana Banaag, a volunteer teacher for the Aeta community, said the tribe in Banoyo was divided into three. Some are residing in the seaside of Banoyo, others are living in the riverside and near the bridge, making them vulnerable to natural calamities, flooding and landslide.

The tribe’s chieftain shared that prior to the eruption, they already planned to transfer to their new community area permanently, which is located 15 minutes away from the foot of the mountain in Banoyo.

They have been paying P700 a month for the 102-meter land, owned by a private individual, since September 2019.

However, the recent eruption hastened their relocation leaving them with no roof, water and electricity.

The tribe has been receiving several basic necessity donations from various private sectors and local government units since the eruption. But they are still calling for aid in rebuilding their new homes.

'Jobless and homeless'

Magtibay said they are planning to build huts in the future but they are asking for donated materials first as the eruption not only left them homeless but also jobless.

The chieftain said that most of their members are fishermen, some are weaving doormat and others are working as construction workers in several parts of Batangas such as Lipa, Taal and Lemery.

The government declared lockdown on these areas during the Alert Level 4 warning raised over Taal. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology then said areas within the 14-kilometer zone of the volcano are high risk zones.

“Kaya wala kami ngayong kabuhayan (That's why we lost our livelihood),” Magtibay said.

The chieftain, however, said he is thankful the lockdown order is now lifted and they are looking forward to return to their job as construction workers.

He said they no longer plan to return to their livelihood at the seaside area.

“Maraming salamat ho at makakapagtrabaho na ang mga kasamahan,” the chieftain concluded.

(We are very grateful that our community members can now work again.)

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