A THOMASIAN anthropologist has stressed the need to establish cultural schools for aetas.

Ma. Carinnes Gonzales of the UST sociology department said establishing a school that teaches culture to younger Aetas will promote cultural preservation.

“Establishing cultural education institutions has been a successful campaign in different indigenous cultures around the Philippines and the goal there is to let indigenous youth learn the folkways and traditions of their elderly,” Gonzales told the Varsitarian during the University’s celebration of the “Araw ng mga Katutubo” in Bamban, Tarlac last Nov. 5.

Gonzales said UST can collaborate with the Department of Education, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the National Commission for Indigenous People to help the natives draft the curricula for the school.

“What UST can do is, other than sponsoring their education and community development, we should also develop their culture in this sense, because once you lose a culture, you can’t get it back,” Gonzales said.

The Aetas were displaced from their homelands after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, prompting them to live with the natives of Pampanga and Tarlac.

UST Simbahayan Assistant Director Froilan Alipao said efforts to establish a cultural school for Aetas started in 2005 in partnership with the College of Education. But the plan was scrapped due to lack of support.

“We opted for formal education assistance for them,” Alipao said in an interview.

Alipao said Simbahayan will be looking for new sponsors and resources to restart the efforts in establishing a pilot cultural school for the Aetas.

Since 2004, UST has participated in the annual Araw ng mga Katutubo that is a part of the Simbahayan’s distance education program for Thomasian students.

The program involves literacy education, with UST professors giving adult Aetas the necessary information they need to improve their living standards.


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