The Phillipines: Revival of Negrito forest food traditions



Ati women cutting palmheart, Eata Festival, Malay. Photo: Yasmin Arquiza.The indigenous Negritos, with a hunter-gatherer background, share a strong relationship with the natural environment in which they live. For the Negritos, wild gathered foods from forests, rivers and coastal waters, are an important element of their diet. These foods include ferns, yams, mushrooms, honey, banana flowers, and palm heart, as well as fish, mollusks, crabs and other aquatic animals.  

This project is a collaboration between the NTFP-TF, People and Plants International, National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), The Negros Museum, Kakai, NATRIPAL Heritage Centre, and Team EnergyBuilding. Building on cultural revival work already underway, it will support the wild food traditions of Negrito communities, and further greater awareness in civil society of those traditions, by:

Aeta archery competition, Mam-eh festival, Capas, Phillipines    •    Holding wild food tastings during the Cultural Revival Festival in Batak, Palawan, at the Negros Museum in Bacolod, and a popular restaurant in Metro Manila.

    •    Helping to develop, promote and preserve wild foods for sale in local markets, including edible mushrooms and nipa, which produces sugar, syrup, vinegar, eau de vie and flour.

    •    Document the living but threatened traditions of these groups through the production of Aeta woman digging wild yams, mount Pinatubo area, Phillipinesposters and a film.

    •    Develop a traditional food module for inclusion in indigenous groups’ school curricula, and train teachers on the subject, in collaboration with the Department of Education.

    •    Support efforts in universities to address forest foods, including a proposed NTFP Center in the Forest College of UPLB.


These activities will take place in the Southern Sierra Madre/Polillo islands (Agta-Dumagat) where local groups harvest coastal wild food resources; the Cadiz mountains, Negros Occidental (Ayta), an exceptionally intact forest in which local groups harvest edible mushrooms and honey; the Zambales mountains (Aeta), where the forest was damaged by recent volcanic eruptions, but wild food-related knowledge and skills are well preserved, and attempts are being made to restore forest ecosystems in order to regain access to traditional food species; and Palawan (Batak), where local groups host cultural revival festivals.