On our most recent trip to the Philippines we had and opportunity to reach out to the Negrito People of Isabela.
Negritos could be called the “hidden” inhabitants of the Philippines. They don’t enter city areas for the most part and prefer to remain in their tribal territories. Yes, we see them on occasion, but that’s only when they choose to mingle with the rest of the population. The history of the Philippines starts with Negritos, not with the Spanish colonization of the 1500s.
Who are the Negritos?
Some of the Negritos, but not all of them, were the first indigenous inhabitants of the Philippines. The term “Negrito” is the Spanish or Portuguese diminutive of Negro, meaning “little black person“. Early European explorers used that term to describe the native population because they assumed that they came from Africa. No one knows when the first of the Negritos arrived in the Philippines, but we know a few things about them.
The term “Negrito” actually refers to several ethnic groups, including the Aeta, Agta, Ayta, Pygmies, Ita, Baluga, Ati, Dumagat and at least 25 other tribes of the Philippines totaling an estimated 15,000 people. They share some common physical features with the African pygmy populations, including their short stature, hair texture and dark skin. Regardless of appearance, they share more DNA with Asians than Africans.
Many of the Negritos live in the jungles of the Philippines. The group we were honored to spend time with were living under a bridge near Ilagan. We had the opportunity to share the gospel as well as extend and invitation to the medical mission. We prayed with these people and some of our team gave some money to help with immediate medical needs. It is our hope and plan to continue to reach out and demonstrate the love of Christ to these people. This ministry was not planned by NFI but came out of Devine opportunity.