I have always pictured far, off-road areas when thinking about indigenous communities. However, little did I know that there are much closer and accessible areas where anyone can easily visit. One of these is a small Dumagat community nestled in the mountains of Norzagaray, Bulacan—just two hours away from Metro Manila.
This area is called as Pundahan Ng Mga Dumagat (Docking Place of the Dumagat) as it is a transitionary community of the tribe. Most tribe members only come and go to this area but at the same time, it is home to around 50 families who moved closer to the city to find work as well as to send their children to school.
The natural environment where the tribe resides is breathtaking – the crisp cool air, the sunshine peeking through trees, and endless green in every direction. More to this natural beauty, what fascinated me is how they power their small community with the help of solar panels. With this solar panels, children can study during the night and they are able to charge their electric devices (lamps, flashlights, radio, etc.) ready for use the following day.
I would have never thought that the small houses of nipa and bamboo scattered in the natural forest in the mountains were connected to renewable energy. Even if electricity is limited, it was heartwarming to hear that it still makes a positive difference in their daily lives. The community also uses this natural (solar) energy source for their radio tower which allowed the Bantay Gubat (Forest Civil Guards) to communicate with one another during their daily patrols for forest protection.
This interesting integration of innovative clean energy technology into indigenous culture is something worth to see for hikers and nature enthusiasts going to the area. I have realized how rich their natural environment is and how green technology can help develop it without compromising its beauty.