The Ati People and Typhoon Relief

The Ati people of Panay Island are the best known of the Filipino Negritos (Spanish term of Ati). This indigenous tribe is credited with welcoming history's first Malay from Borneo in the fourteenth century. The Ati have retained their dialect with traces of the ancient terms of "Kinaray-a" and dialects of the present time "Hiligaynon."

Unfortuantely, the Ati people are often discriminated against due to their dark-skinned appearence and lack of education. As a result, many women and children are forced to work menial jobs in order to survive. This lifestyle perpetuates the lack of education among the Ati youth, making it extremely diffcult to break free from the depressed socio-economic class in which they now reside.

Across the entire nation, the latest reports are that at least 10,000 people were killed and 680,000 have been displaced, but those numbers will go up not only from the initial storm but from the disease that follows.  International relief organizations have already started to help but sadly that helps almost never gets to the Ati.  They are discriminated against on almost every level and overlooked or exploited by many individuals and national organizations. They have lost so much , their homes, their belongings, the school and preschool which served as their central meeting place, and community water pump, bathrooms etc.  They have put together lean-to’s out of palm branches and pieces of plastic bags to get out of the endless rain.  It is the rainy seasons so they can expect another 50 to 100 inches of rain over the next couple of months.

We will all have to help.  And will have to focus our typhoon relief efforts on the Ati people for them to get the help that they need today.


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