Mission Rosa Mystica In the Philippines (6) : A visit to aborigines in Zambales

Source: FSSPX News

A group of volunteers led by Father Castel and doctor Kim from South Korea, visited an aborigine tribe in Zambales , near Subic Bay in the northern part of the Philippine islands. After getting up at the break of dawn, driving more than six hours and climbing a hill, we at last reached our destination.

We had brought lots of medication with us and after being offered refreshment by the foundation in charge of the mission, we began giving medical care. Our doctor, a pediatrician, looked after the children. Sister Eva, who is also a doctor, looked after adults after greeting us. The aborigines, Pygmies, are very small. The tallest that the doctor examined was 1,70m. Young girls are often married between 14 and 15 years of age and exchanged with a karabao (a Philippine buffalo). The foundation, Our Lady of Peace”, who is in charge of the mission, is trying to change this custom by giving them an education. They must therefore wait until they have finished secondary school before getting married. The foundation has also set up a training program for mothers as they don’t know how to look after their children and mortality is very high.

We are not used to seeing such small people. They all look like children to us, even the adults. The children are fascinated by the foreigners who are so different from what they are.

This mission was founded roughly thirty years ago by Sister Eva to come to the aid of the aborigines living on the slopes of the Pinatubo volcano when it erupted. They had to be relocated because ash spread all over the region and it was impossible to grow anything. The foundation helped the population to find a new territory 35 kilometers from the lake that the volcano became. It also helped them to form a council elected every two years as representatives to the foundation and local authorities.

To begin with, the foundation mainly helped from a political and economical point of view but missionary work got quickly under way. Before the missionaries arrived, the local tribes worshipped “Opo” (the lord) who was, in fact, the volcano. Their faith was shattered by its eruption and destruction. How could this destroyed volcano be god? Little by little, they came to ask for catechism and to be baptized. Today, 80% are baptized and married. To do so, they gave up traditional polygamy. Even though they were evangelized by a protestant group “Born again”, they want to become Catholics.

When Sister Eva asked them why, they replied “because you are alive and your devotion has shown us that God loves us”.