Nomadic tribe in Philippines tries to maintain tradition
By Cheryl Baldicantos

Like many members of his nomadic tribe, Samuel Inosendo moved away from the mountains 18 years ago.

Most chose to live in Naga City in Cebu, located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines.

But Samuel still does his best to maintain the tradition of his Negrito Ati tribe.

In his free time, he sets up booby traps to catch monitor lizards, as the Atis believe that eating the lizard will help strengthen their bodies.

Apart from teaching his fourth-grader son tips on catching the monitor lizards, Samuel also tells his children about Ati’s traditional marriages rites.

Speaking to Assignment Asia, the city government worker said with a chuckle, "On a hill surrounded by lights, the woman runs and is chased by the man. If the man catches the woman, they're married. After that, they are blessed by the tribal priest. After they are married, they can kiss or do whatever they want."

Like other parents concerned about modern influences such as cell phones and the internet, Samuel is worried that his children will forget what it is like to be an Ati.

"I talk to them in our language, but they answer me in Cebuano. We’re going to die and they’ll remain. That’s why I always speak to them in our native language at home," said Samuel.

Samuel Inosendo and his catch. /CGTN Photo

Samuel Inosendo and his catch. /CGTN Photo

The Atis are said to be the first inhabitants of the archipelago, coming from Borneo where they first settled 30,000 years ago.

Apart from hunting, they traditionally sold medicines, especially those for pregnant women, as well as bracelets for kids to prevent bad luck.

However, in recent years, due to encroachments into their territory and greater opportunities in the cities, many have moved from the mountains to live in urban areas.

Assignment Asia is CGTN’s award-winning current affairs program featuring long-form stories and documentaries on some of the most pressing issues in the region. The show airs Saturdays at 1330 and 2130 GMT, with replays every Sunday at 0630, Monday at 0130, and Tuesday at 0530.