Bataan Aytas

Mariveles BataanThe Aytas are called Negritos for their dark skin and kinky hair. They landed on the archipelago more than 30,000 thousand years ago and are thought to be the earliest inhabitants of the Philippines. The Negritos share some physical features with African pygmy populations.

Nowadays, rare is the Ayta wearing traditional clothing: the bahag (loincloth) for men and wraparound skirts for women. They now use urban attire. Ayta women are skilled in weaving, plaiting, and producing household containers, rattan hammocks, and winnowing baskets of excellent quality. Nomadic Ayta build temporary settlements made of indigenous materials, such as forked sticks, palm or banana leaves, cogon, and bamboo.

The Bataan Aytas are found in the coastal town of Mariveles, in the southern tip of Bataan Province, Central Luzon Region. Theirs is one of two endangered Ayta tribes whose numbers dwindling at a very rapid pace. Extinction looms, unless drastic steps can be taken to preserve their language and culture.

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