CAPAS, Tarlac—Aetas in surrounding communities of the New Clark City have found new livelihood opportunities after 500 of them, from different tribes, were employed as laborers and landscape maintenance workers during the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The Aetas were also given the chance to watch different SEA Games events hed at the NCC while working.
“We’re happy because a lot of our tribesmen also get to watch,” said Ernesto De Guzman while watching the games at the Aquatics Center.
“Natives like us won’t have to go to other towns to watch games like this,” he added.
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority holds regular dialogues with the Capas local government and the communities to assure they are part of the New Clark City development.
Financial assistance packages amounting to P300,000 per hectare (or P30 per sq.m.) were made available to project-affected residents, the highest compensation package provided by government for them.
Further, relocation sites within New Clark City were also provided for those whose residential structures were affected.
Another Aeta worker in New Clark City is Corazon Capiz, a grandmother who watched the games with her two grandchildren.
“We’re all happy,” she said, noting she could not help but compare the difference now that they have jobs and better roads.
“Now, everyone ― with or without curly hair, with work or without ― managed to improve the roads. Before, you couldn’t ride a motorcycle here. Now, even at night, you can ride a motor in peace,” Capiz shared.
“It’s a great boon to us that jobs are available here now. Before, I used to cut cogon grass for a living, or pluck banana hearts from the mountains, then go down to sell them. Now I have a good job,” she added.
Lourdes Rivera is also grateful for her job as a gardener in New Clark City.
“I plant bougainvillea, carabao grass and peanut now. Before, I foraged for vegetables that we would sell in the markets. We would plant rice too,” she said.
When asked if she will come back again to watch the games, Rivera said yes.
“It’s the first time for us to see (sports) like that... even when I was young,” she added.
BCDA worked with credible institutions such as the Asian Development Bank in masterplanning and ensuring the sustainability and inclusivity of New Clark City.