“Isang kahig, isang tuka,” or living from hand to mouth is how the Aetas in Capas, Tarlac describe their day to day life. Simply put, they will not be able to eat if they will not labor for the day. They make a living by growing and selling crops. To transport and sell their produce at the town they have to cross rivers. However, in most cases, they hardly make much profit because their crops are sold at a bargain price.
Their chieftain Ram Dela Cruz shared how difficult their situation is: “Kung minsan, lalong-lalo ng ang puso [ng saging], napakahirap minsan na i-biyahe. Tapos minsan, hindi pa nakukuha sa tamang presyo at kasama rin po yung mga tanim namin na luya, iyon po kung minsan nakukuha po ng medyo mura. Syempre ibenta na namin para magkaroon lang po kami ng pang-agarang pambili ng kung ano man ang pangangailangan po namin.”
(The banana blossoms are hard to transport. Worse is that, we can’t sell them at the right price. Even our harvested gingers are sold at a cheaper price. We are forced to sell them at a very low price just for us to immediately have money to buy our basic needs.)
When the rain is frequent, they can’t go to town because of high water. They will then be left with nothing to eat but ‘kalut’, a crop that looks like a potato but is poisonous if not prepared properly. Aside from this, they may also opt for the ‘apong-apong’ plant but it is only available at the highest and steepest parts of the mountains.
In hopes of receiving help for their community, they sent their request to “Serbisyong Bayanihan”, a television program in the Philippines which aims to help people in need especially during the current pandemic.
“Magtiis tayo, maghintay tayo. Kapag talagang kailangan, merong makakatulong sa ating pangangailangan. Iyon na siguro talaga ang bigay ng Gumagabay sa atin. Darating ang araw, may gagamitin ang Dios para sa atin,” Ram recalled his thoughts.
(Let us endure, let us wait. When we really need it, the One who is guiding us will send us people who would help us. The day will come when God will use an instrument to help us.)
And surely, God heard their pleas. The Members Church of God International (MCGI) brethren happily granted the request of the Aetas in Capas, Tarlac for goats. They were also given relief goods and the opportunity to talk with MCGI Elders to find out how else the Church could be of help to them.
“Ako po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat unang-una sa Panginoon at kay Kuya Daniel at sa MCGI na sila po walang sawa na tumulong sa amin, sila po ay nagmamalasakit kahit kami ay nasa liblib na lugar. Sana po matulungan kaming lahat ng katutubo dito sa bayan ng Capas,” Victor Valentin of Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative remarked.
(I am very grateful, first of all, to the Lord and to Kuya Daniel and to MCGI who tirelessly help and care for us even though we are in a very remote place. I hope all our fellow natives here in the town of Capas will be helped, too.)
For more information regarding the charitable works of the Church, please visit www.mcgi.org/public-services.