Aeta (Ayta /ˈaɪtə/ EYE-tə) is what we call the indigenous people that live in the mountainous parts of our province in Zambales although you can find them scattered through various parts of Luzon. They are believed to be among the first inhabitants of the Philippine Islands. A sad part of my youth is whenever I'm with my counterparts, we use that very name as an insult to someone who is dark-skinned or someone who has a very curly hair. Sometimes, we even hear adults use it in the same way too. Sounds familiar? Racism is everywhere folks and regretfully, I was guilty of it myself. Add that to the backward practice of Mainstream media that always portray dark-skinned and curly haired individuals as poor, uneducated and ugly. They even use light-skinned actors to play as natives using a form of theatrical makeup called blackface. These things become norms that eventually lead to a lifetime of prejudice and abuse towards the Aetas.

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