by Gale Tamon
From the word, “rumakat” or “lumakad”, the Dumagats originated from the Negritos. It is assumed that they got their name from migrating by walking on land, rather than crossing the sea. They are a semi nomadic tribe, meaning, they have no permanent abode, but they stay in one place, going around the area, cultivating the land, harvesting their food, and leaving when the land is no longer fertile, letting nature take its course. They are usually found in the hillsides and mountains of Quezon, Rizal, and Laguna provinces, however, near the wooded land around Angat Dam in Bulacan, less than 3 hours from manila, the team found plywood houses, which can easily be destroyed by strong gusts of wind, no electricity, and no plumbing. This was the day of Trisports Solutions Inc.’s outreach to donate the old*, unclaimed finisher and event shirts to the Dumagats. Their community is made up of around 7 large families. Our contact, Brother Martin Francisco of Bantay Gubat, acts as their barangay captain, taking charge of their education, both academic and livelihood, being the peacemaker between disputing families, and their connection to the “outside world”.
*2015 and back
The Dumagats near Angat Dam, despite being so close to one of the most bustling and fast paced cities in the Philippines, are not exposed to money and the most basic commodities. Brother Martin believes that they should not be taught to be dependent on commercial items since they wouldn’t have any access to it in the long run.
While there, the team found a community of happy, but shy people, excited to see visitors and spend the day with them. Stopping first at Brother Martin’s for a courtesy call, they learned that their families are very close knit and moves as one unit. If one member is called upon, you can bet everyone is gonna show up. They also have the patriarchal family structure, unlike most untouched people groups, with closed cultures, however, in their communities, it is the women who have confidence in conversing with outsiders, because they are the ones who get attend school. The main role of men are to go out and look for food, whether by harvesting or paying in order to borrow a boat and fish near the Angat Dam.
While the food is being prepared by the Dumagat women, the children presented a special song and dance number in their traditional outfits as their way of welcoming their guests. Next, the team taught the children to play Patintero, and they had so much fun, it wasn’t long until the teens, adults, and even elders joined in, as well. While everyone was resting, Brother Martin regaled them with the history of the Dumagats and the area, especially with how the people are protecting the environment which feeds them. After which, the team, together with the 70+ members of the community had a boodle fight, because if there’s anything that binds Filipinos together, it’s food. They had a feast pansit, chicken and pork adobo, and tilapia.
At the end of the day, the old finisher shirts were turned over for distribution, however, the team left feeling like they had received something instead. There was quite nothing like creating unique relationships such as these. Seeing these people, who are so close, yet so far, in so many aspects, bonding with them, and making them happy, are the highlights of the trip, more than the cave exploring and rock climbing.
Gale Tamon is a Marketing Officer of Trisports Solutions Inc.