The Aetas were the earliest inhabitants in the Philippines. They are nomadic and build only temporary lean-to-shelters made of two forked sticks driven to the ground and covered with the palm of the banana leaves. The more prosperous and modernized Aetas have learned to live in the villages on tablelands and mountain clearings. They live in houses made of bamboo and cogon grass. The Aetas are located in Zambales, Tarlac, Bataan and Nueva Ecija. Due to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo they were resettled in various resettlement areas in Region 3 like Porac Pampanga and in Dueg, San Clemente, Tarlac.
The Aeta is distinguished by his small structure, kinky hair, flat nose, thick lips, and black skin distinguish the Aeta. His arms are abnormally long and his feet are too large in proportion to his body. Aetas have peculiar characteristic, which is his large toe that extended inward, a feature that might have evolved as consequence of his constant grasping of a tree branch between the large toe and the other toes.
The Aetas senses are highly developed. Their senses of direction and senses of smell is extraordinary. They can track down a snake by its smell and can identify more than five hundred plants and its flowering patterns.
The entertainment fare of the Aetas consists of songs and dances. Their musical instruments are highly developed.
Abians are the Philippine aborigines often called Negritoes. They live in Barrio Igang of Batobalani. Camarines Norte and in Camarines Sur. In 1987 they numbered 12, 407. They are short and dark with kinky hair.
When their homes were bulldozed for forest concessions, they again experienced being driven away from the place by lowlanders. As a result, they have become nomadic and do not possess any material property for fear of losing it whenever they suffer further confiscation.
The Abian house is a semi-permanent lean to called butukan. They get their food by means of the kaingin system, clearing portions of the forest and planting root crops and rice on the cleared area. They also work for landlords by the weeding the fields or helping during harvest time.
Many old customs have been retained by the Abians. The old women of village still assisst mothers in giving birth.
They have no marriage rites, or formal religion. They practice polygamy and do not believe in the Christian God but they believe that there is a life after death. Some are known to put scars on their arms to take away the bad blood.
When an Abian dies, neighbors across the hills are called by shouts to announce patapusan, the death rites that take place three months afterward. At patapusan there is dancing, chanting of the lidong', and weeping and wailing over the passing of a love one.
The Agtas are found in the Bicol Peninsula and on the slopes of Mt. Asog, Iriga City. The group population was 11, 078 in 1987.
Like any other Aeta group, they call themselves and their language Agta. They are darkskinned, kinky-haired, pug nosed and think lipped people with a height less than five feet tall.
They generally go bear footed. Men wore G-strings without shorts, but now wear shorts, the women wear clothes similar to lowlanders.
They can speak varied languages such as Bicolano, Tagalog, and Agta language. Indigenous materials such as wood, bamboo, cogon or talahib, abaca barks and coconut leaves are used in the house. Houses are built in clusters ranging from two to five families for economic and security purposes.
They get their food by means of the kaingin system. They also work for landlords but receive a very minimal daily wage, not even enough for subsistence.
They marry at an early age of fourteen to their chosen partner but since they have no marriage rites, the couples simply live together as husband and wife. They practiced polygamy and at the present, the Agtas do not subscribe to family planning, believing that marriage is to produce offspring and that only God determines the number of children a couple will have.
The Agta believes in the Anitos and the Spirits of the ancestors to whom they offer dances during rituals. Some dances depict the movements of animals, insects, and hunting movements.
There is no organized political leadership. However the older and more experienced males in the community are consulted for arbitration purposes.
The dark-skinned Ati group of Panay Island are probably the best known of the Filipino Negritos (Spanish Term of Ati) being the indigenous tribe credited with welcoming history's first Malay datus from Borneo in the fourteenth century. The Ati have retained their dialect with traces of ancient times of "Kiniraya" and dialects of the present time "Iligaynon".
Ati is the local term for their "dark brown" to "scooty black" skin color. They have wavy to kinky hair, pug nose, and thick lips. They are short in stature and generally below five feet tall. Their physical appearance is genetically carried up to the third or fourth generation even with mixed marriages. When the Spanish colonizers came they called the indigenous people of the island Negritoes because of their skin color and also named the Island Negros.
The Atis are scattered in the provinces of Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. The biggest population is settled in Negpana, barangay Lipata, Darotac Viejo (Iloilo). Other bigger groups are found in Hanti (Antique), Malay (Aklan) and Lambunao (Iloilo). The total popultion is 63, 654 (OSCC, 1987)
For economic survival, they are adept at hunting, fishing, and food gathering. Nowadays, they have become less sedentary and constantly move in panung (band). They become the "mountain people" in escaping the civilizing process of the colonists. They are perennially dependent on the yields of the forest, since they practice no permanent agriculture.
Until the modern times, the Atis have used the forest for indigenous medicines as it yields medicinal roots, woodchips, shavings, gums, wines, leaves, seeds, barks and herbs for curing kinds of sickness. They apply such herbs with the corresponding rituals.
Because they are nomadic, the Ati put up their dwellings in the form of a lean-to or shack. During the olden times, most of the Atis went about naked. The Menfolk were ubad to cover their private part, while the women wrapped their lower torso with the sahat leaving their breasts exposed. In recent times, their few clothing are frequently laundered in the stream without use of soap.
The Atis have an animistic religion. They believe in the existence of Kalosonin (spirit of the forest) and the aswang (witch). They will possess a unique wedding rite held on top of a hill. The bride was made to run fast one hundred meters away from the groom. Drums were sounded when the groom started to pursue the woman.