The Aeta people are a very simply, kind, and friendly people. They were the earliest inhabitants in the Philippines preceding the Austronesian migrations. They are an indigenous people who live in scattered, isolated mountainous parts of the island of Luzon. They typically live in huts made of bamboo and cogon grass and they plant fruits and vegetables. They are historically animists in their religious beliefs. They believe that good and evil spirits inhabit the environment, such as the spirits of the river, sea, sky, mountain, hill, valley and other places. They are mainly located in Zambales, Porac, Tarlac, Bataan, and Nueva Ecija. Due to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo many were resettled in various resettlement areas.
The Aeta is distinguished by his small structure, kinky hair, flat nose, thick lips, and dark skin. The Aetas senses are highly developed. Their senses of direction and senses of smell are extraordinary. They can track down a snake by its smell and can identify hundreds of plants and flowers. Though they are usually small in structure, they are very strong physically as they have adapted to difficult living conditions and they work very hard. They can effortlessly hike through many miles of hot, difficult mountain terrain and it's not uncommon to find even the elderly Aeta still going out regularly to work on their fields.
The precise history of the Aeta continues to confound anthropologists and archaeologists. One theory suggests that the Aeta are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines, who, contrary to their seafaring Austronesian neighbors, arrived through land bridges that linked the islands with the Asian mainland. Unlike many of their Austronesian counterparts, the Aetas have shown resistance to change. Aetas had little interaction with the Spaniards as they remained in the mountains during the Spanish rule. Even the attempts of the Spaniards to settle them in reservations failed.
According to Spanish observers, Aetas possessed iron tools and weapons. Their speed and accuracy with a bow and arrow were proverbial and they were fearsome warriors. Unwary travelers or field workers were often easy targets. Despite their martial prowess, however, the Aeta's small numbers, primitive economy and lack of organization often made them easy prey for better organized groups. Zambals seeking slaves would often take advantage of their internal feuding. They were often sold as slaves to Borneo and China.
Mining, deforestation, illegal logging, and slash-and-burn farming has caused the indigenous population in the country to steadily decrease. The Philippine government affords them little or no protection, and the Aeta have become extremely nomadic due to social and economic strain on their culture and way of life that had previously remained unchanged for thousands of years.
The infant mortality rate is very high. The life expectancy at birth of the Aeta is just 16.5 years, with only a third of children surviving to adulthood at 15 years - at which point life expectancy is still only 27 years
Before Jeremy even came to the Philippines he had a heart for getting the Gospel to lost tribal people. After arriving in the Philippines in late 2003 Jeremy began to make visits to different areas of the Aeta tribal people who lived in the mountain areas of Pampanga. Even though Jeremy was involved in church planting in other areas he continued to pray about establishing a serious ministry among the Aeta people also. Visits were frequently made to different Aeta areas throughout the years, but it wasn't until 2014 that a proper, fulltime church planting effort began to take place as Bro Daryl Lalu, one of Jeremy's converts and Bible students, completed his studies in our Bible school in Mexico and was called by the Lord to fulltime ministry work among the Aeta.
Our first Aeta church was planted in 2014 and currently has 70 Aeta people in regular attendance. They have church services every Sunday morning and afternoon (along with Sunday school classes) and a midweek service / prayer meeting. Bro Daryl lives in the Aeta village, living in one of the Aeta huts and learns how to speak to the Aeta people in their own native language. God has blessed Bro Daryl's sacrifice and there are more and more Aeta coming to salvation and being baptized in the location of our first Aeta church, praise God! This church also has a Bible College where we are training Aeta men to become missionaries and pastors to their own people. By the grace of God we also have a second Aeta church since one of our Aeta mission points saw the first group of Aeta baptized in early 2016! That second church has 30 in regular attendance.
Bro Daryl has also started an Aeta Bible school with the main goal of training up Aeta men for the work of the ministry and by God's grace there are already some Aeta men who are preparing themselves to serve in the ministry! Bro Daryl even teaches the illiterate Aeta reading and writing lessons and he often assists the sick and needy during times of difficult struggle.
We also currently have an Aeta mission point at another location, which we are praying to become a local church also. Jeremy works with Bro Daryl on a weekly basis to assist in these expansion works and by the grace of God we currently have several people regularly listening to the Bible! In order to learn more about our Aeta missions please read through our newsletters where you will find a lot more information and pictures as well.