I remember these children of sandy environment of Mabalacat, Pampanga and their facial beams whenever they sing Yeng Constantino’s “Ikaw” and their idol Lyca Gaironod’s own rendition of songs. I remember their loud laughter whenever we commit errors in pronouncing the words inherent to their dialect and whenever I give explanations for asking me why I am called “Dora”. I remember them responding in an open-mouthed wonder whenever a stethoscope is being placed above their chests, while wishing to hear the beating of their own hearts.
They were never hesitant to show their hospitality and trust; they never thought that we might be just another line of oppressors or the right hand men of the capitalists or of the landlords, who, in a cold instant, may take away everything that they have, including their identity.
I am afraid that one day, they might lose their mountainous paradise or perhaps take flight to the lowlands, because of the present development aggression in the area.
I am afraid that one day, these children’s shy smiles will soon dash away like dying stars, due to the continuous oppression inflicting our Aeta brothers and sisters.
Resist development aggression! Stop ethnocide! Defend the right to self-determination!