The Ati People

The Ati are a tribal group of filipinos residing in the Visayas, the central island part of the Philippines. Known as the first inhabitants of the area, they actually look quite different than the average filipino with curlier hair and darker skin. Unfortunately, the Ati are quite prejudiced by much of their own country, notwithstanding the largest Philippine holiday feast is in their honor. Ati-Atihan (literally meaning "being like Ati's") is the Philippines version of Mardi Gras in that they parade down the street dancing tribally, participating in rituals, and painting their skin dark. Though the holiday's origins may have been pure, and I should do some more research, nowadays I feel like it is more of a mockery to these beautiful people. Because they are mistreated, they live far up in the mountains and mostly keep to themselves. One mostly would not see an actual person of indigenous blood at the festivals, unless they are begging at the side of the street. I don't know, maybe it's a culture thing and the Ati just accept it for what it is, but I don't really support it.

With that being said, I recently had the opportunity to visit two tribes in the Philippines and it was an incredible experience. With one, we traveled through the jungle to jump off a waterfall and with the other, we got to document the beautiful beginnings of a school aiding children to attain the promise of going to college, get great jobs, and ultimately bringing their family out of the cycle of poverty.