by Kattryn Erryc Sayo

Anywhere around the globe, racial discrimination and abuse has always been a continuous controversial issue in the society. Even with the presence of committees and organizations that are in line with the elimination of cultural and ethnic prejudice, the depletion of mistreatment, impartiality, and insult to the indigenous people still seems to be highly irresolvable. Aside from these, the ethnic tribes also suffer from lack of assistance from the government and the commission in charge of them.

                The Dumagat group is one of the oldest existing ethnic tribes in the Philippines. They reside in the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Quezon and Bulacan. Just like any other tribes in the country and in the whole world, they are not new to any form of discernment and deficiency from financial aids. But if Filipinos, especially the Tagalogs, would just understand their way of living, these stains of maltreatment can possibly be erased, and more forms of help can probably reach them.

                In the six areas (namely sitios Iyak, Malot, Anoling, Maputi, Pinanganakan, Basyo) of barangay Kabayunan, Dona Remedios Trinidad (DRT) in the province of Bulacan inhabits a number of Dumagat families. The Dumagats are divided in to two types: the Remontados or Mestisos (half-Dumagat and half-Tagalog) and the Agtas (pure Dumagat).

                Since the native lineage runs in their blood, the Dumagats in the province aren’t exempted from any form of racial discrimination and bullying. The fact that they do not receive any form of assistance from the government also adds to the downgrading problem.

                One of the Mestisos in Sitio Maputi, namely Nila San Jose, 33, shares that poverty is the main problem in their tribe. Since their family transferred to DRT all the way from Montalban, Rizal three years ago, her family has not yet received any kind of support from the government.

                “Wala pa kaming natanggap na kahit ano mula sa gobyerno,” she said.

                Because of this, her husband, Antonio San Jose, 40, industriously works, making him see his family for only once every week. In one to two weeks, he earns Php500-900, which Nila said is not enough for their everyday needs, especially majority of her children are grade school pupils. Since their family is deprived, Nila and Antonio’s one out of five kids had to stop studying.

                Whenever his husband is not around and no money is available for them to buy their daily necessities, their neighbors are kind enough to give them some.

                Despite their deprivation from financial security, Nila shares they aren’t like other people who go out and beg money from other people. They avoid themselves to getting further criticisms and bullying.

                “Hindi kami namamalimos. Ayaw namin na masabihan pa ng masama. Dahil ang akala ng mga tao kapag nanghihingi, sobra na,” shares Nila.

                On the other hand, Brother Edwin Cardel, the missionary in charge with the Dumagats in Bulacan, revealed how the Dumagat kids get bullied by the Tagalogs.

                “Nagkakaroon ng discrimination sa school. ‘Yong mga bata niloloko ng mga Tagalog,” he said.

                Aside from this, the Dumagats are also believed to have been badly influenced by the Tagalogs.

                “Ang mga Dumagat natuto nang manigarilyo at magnakaw dahil sa mga Tagalong. Dati nag-iiwan lang sila ng gamit sa bahay nila ng walang pangambang may mawawalang gamit, eh ngayon iba na,” added Brother Cardel.

                With this, we can sum up how difficult survival is for the Dumagats especially in their condition wherein they get bullied and judged, and wherein they lacked financial security. If the Tagalogs would just open their eyes to the reality that the Dumagat people aren’t much different from what and who they are, then maybe racial prejudice can be prevented and may give way to more forms of help not only from the government.

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