Back in the dog days of summer, I was introduced to Zambales through the magnificence of Nagsasa Cove and Capones Island—some of the many go-to destinations in the province when the dire need to explore arises.
Recently, I was reintroduced to Zambales together with groups of passionate people who travel with purpose. We found ourselves eagerly trekking our way to Yangil Village, one of the nine Aeta tribe villages in Zambales that have been suffering from poverty and insufficient vegetation since the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo occured in 1991. It was far from the paradisiacal pictures in our thought bubbles, but what you can do for the Yangil Village is something that will matter in the lives of our Aeta brothers and sisters for many years to come.
Yangil Village is the eye-opening side of Zambales that’s far from the comforts of Nagsasa Cove and Capones Island, and here’s why and how you can make a difference for them through the Tribes and Treks Tour:
Brave an hour trek and four river-crossings
Getting to the Yangil Village requires an hour trek, four river-crossings, energy to brave either the sweltering heat of the sun or sudden whips of rain, and the will to help our Aeta brothers and sisters in need. From The Circle Hostel, the starting point of the adventure, head towards Barangay Sagpat where a carabao-drawn cart, Chieftain Irese, and local Aeta guides will wait for your arrival. They will guide you all the way through their village while sharing ancestral, cultural, and Mt. Pinatubo stories along the way. Through that literal walk of life, you will learn how Aetas swear by the natural resources, the impact of Mt. Pinatubo eruption in their life, and the importance of responsible stewardship to our motherland.
Revive their culture
Aetas welcome their much-awaited guests with the sweetest smiles there is in the world. All are eager to receive guests and let them experience their treasured culture and home-cooked meals. There, Aetas will teach you how to traditionally court a woman through tribal dances and songs, how to properly shoot with a bow and arrow, and how to survive through herbal medicines, among others. After the fun-filled activities, local home-cooked meals like kamote, tanglad tea, fried fish, adobo, and tinola will be served for a total experience.
Reforest a 3,000-hectare land
Yangil Village is blessed with a 3,000-hectare land. However, this land needs to be reforested after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, illegal loggings and mining swept the once bursting forest of Zambales. Before the tour ends, guests are highly encouraged to plant as many seedlings as they can to help repopulate the once well-vegetated land of Yangil Village. The organizers hope to reach their target number of 3 million trees two years from now. Currently, more than 4,000 seedlings are planted under a Balete tree and are waiting to be planted in the wild.
Tribes and Treks tour is a joint, innovative effort by The Circle Hostel and MAD Travel. Make a difference by joining their upcoming tours. Visit and book through The Circle Hostel at www.facebook.com/thecirclehostel and MAD Travel at www.facebook.com/makeadifferencetravel.
All photos by MAD Travel.