Herbal Medicine from the Aetas

August 29th, 2010

The Philippine Daily Inquirer had this news item to day, August 29, 2010. It includes a story from Carling Domulot, Aeta leader and ELF leader-graduate.

Some years ago, when ELF, in partnership with PBAZ, started an Alternative Learning System (ALS) for Aeta out of school youth and adults, the PBAZ leaders asked why the modules of the Department of Education did not include any on indigenous peoples’ rights, or on Aeta culture, including their health practices. We asked them (and helped them) to produce special learning modules on these topics.

I think we should ask them to produce additional modules on herbal medicine.

In villages of Aetas, cure found in plants

Tonette Orejas

MABALACAT, Pampanga, Philippines—Villagers in Barangays Marcos and Macapagal here boil the leaves of acacia and roots of cogon together. The mixture is an old solution to high fever and malaria and is used to wash the patient down to lower his body temperature.

It is now being used to combat dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Patients are made to drink a concentrated version of the mixture, according to Robert Serrano, a tribal leader in the two villages.

Acacia and cogon abound in the area.

But Aetas do not rely only on this indigenous cure, he added. They avail themselves of medical help and medicines at the provincial government-run Mabalacat district hospital in the town proper.

The Aeta way

In Barangay Bihawo in Botolan, Zambales, the 150 Aeta families there keep dengue away by keeping their resettlement site clean, according to Carlito Domulot, chair of the Lubos na Alyansa ng mga Katutubo Ayta sa Sambales (Lakas).

For two years now, they have maintained an organic farm in nearby Barangay San Juan where they grow 100-percent chemical-free vegetables.

“There is not one case of dengue in our tribe for years,” Domulot, 55, said in a phone interview. “Mosquitoes are rare here,” he added, referring to the carriers of the dengue virus.

Should a dengue case occur, Domulot said he would go up their old village at Villar near Mt. Pinatubo to look for “kupit-kupit,” a highland grass that rises to a person’s knee.

The leaves are heated and pressed on the forehead of a sick person. The roots are boiled to produce a mixture for drinking, Domulot said.

Other cures

For Aetas originally from Barangay Poon Bato in Botolan, Zambales (they now live in Itanglew resettlement), the big leaves of a tree called “dita” is a cure for high fever and malaria.

Elsa Novo, a village councilor, said old folk used dita during the malaria outbreaks in evacuation centers from 1992 to 1994. The tree is difficult to find in the upper slopes of Mt. Pinatubo, she said.

Aetas have growing trust for modern medical help, Novo said. Last week, a 17-year-old boy survived dengue because his parents immediately took him to a local hospital.

In Ifugao, which recorded 187 dengue cases from January to July this year, indigenous communities have also resorted to their old remedies against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, which used to be their bigger seasonal health problem.

Santos Bayucca, an Ifugao environmental advocate, said villagers have started burning dried peelings of locally grown pomelo. The smokey pomelo aroma had been credited for warding off mosquitoes and other insects, Bayucca said. With a report from EV Espiritu, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

Leave a Reply