A Day with the Aytas of Payangan, Dinalupihan, Bataan

6:23:00 PM

I went to the Ayta community in Payangan, Dinalupihan, Bataan last Sunday to talk to their tribal leader for my research involving the Ayta indigenous knowledge on medicinal mushrooms. I learned about this community through a high school friend, Michael, who is a university student in UST. Their student organization has been working with the Ayta communities in Payangan for almost three years now. They were conducting community development and livelihood programs in the community. (Thank you very much Michael for informing me about this community).

Michael (rightmost) with the Ayta community leaders in Payangan, Dinalupihan, Bataan

Payangan was near to our home in Palihan, Hermosa, Bataan. It only took me thirty minutes to reach their place. Michael accompanied me to the community since I was not familiar with the place. We were welcomed by their elders and tribal leader Poon Marieta. I love their hospitality. I introduced myself to them, I said I am a medical student and currently doing a research involving indigenous mushrooms. I explained to them the objectives of the research and how both of us can benefit from this research collaboration. They agreed to participate in the research and they said that they also want to share their indigenous knowledge to the rest of the world especially to students. Although they have reservations in sharing their indigenous knowledge because they have experiences before that foreigners exploited their knowledge on herbal medicines. There was a group of foreigners who visited them to gather information on traditional herbal medicines that they use. After the foreigners extracted information and brought samples from their ancestral domain, they never returned and they never updated the Aytas in Payangan regarding the results of their studies on Ayta's indigenous medicines.

I explained to them that the research that we will conduct is for educational purpose only. We have no plans of commercializing their herbal medicines or use it for our own gain. I also explained to them that all information that we can get from this study will be returned to the community. Whatever findings we get will be made available to their community. Poon Marieta said that she trusts us because we are students and she knows that we are doing this to generate new information. I was so blessed because the elders and tribal leaders trusted me and decided to help me in this research. They also gave me the contact details of the head of Ayta Association in Bataan since I need to coordinate with other Ayta communities in different municipalities in Bataan.

Aytas are very knowledgeable in herbal medicines. When I said that I will be doing research on herbal medicines, they shared to me different kinds of plants that they use in treating several diseases. Some of them even showed me the actual plant and demonstrated how it is used to treat different diseases. They also said that there are different edible mushrooms in the forest and some of them have medicinal use. But mushrooms only appear during rainy season (July to August). I said that I will come back to them by January 2016 to do the actual research. I said that I will bring students with me the next time I visit them because I am helping students from UP Manila Department of Biology in their thesis.

Before leaving, I asked them if they have problems in their health. One of the leaders said that he has hypertension. He said that his blood pressure is always high and he is already under medication. I offered to check his blood pressure because I have a stethoscope and blood pressure apparatus. I borrowed it from Kuya JC. I was about to return it to him before coming home to Bataan but his phone was out of reach so he did not receive my message. So I went home to Bataan bringing the stethoscope with me. Well, I now know the reason why Kuya JC did not receive my message and I was not able to return his BP apparatus. A lot of people from the community also asked me to check their blood pressure. There was a pregnant women with palpitations but her BP is normal. There was a lady with difficulty in sleeping and her BP was a bit lower than normal. Unfortunately, I still dont know how to diagnose diseases. Soon, soon. But all in all I was so happy during that time. Praise God because we just finished Cardio module and I just learned how to use stethoscope and blood pressure apparatus.

After checking their blood pressure, I invited them for a group picture so that I have a souvenir photo with them and then I went home. Poon Marieta said to me to come back anytime I want. Hahaha. It was a great experience. I really enjoy doing research because I gain a lot of insight and lessons from my experiences. So far, this research involving indigenous people is my favorite. 

Me with the Ayta community leaders in Payangan, Dinalupihan, Bataan

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