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PAMPANGA, Philippines – An Aeta community in Pampanga province has unveiled a captivating wonderland, a hidden gem and previously unexplored part of their vast ancestral domain.
The ancestral domain of the Aeta community in the village of Inarraro, located in the town of Porac, spans a vast area of approximately 18,660 hectares. It boasts of captivating scenic trails amid lush greenery and a mossy gorge, offering visitors a nature-filled stroll.
There, the Tutulari Avatar Gorge beckons with its enchanting 500-meter trail, accessible only by embarking on an 11-kilometer off-road adventure, whether by the rugged four-wheel-drive pickup truck or a sports utility vehicle.
The trail remained unexplored even before the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
Mylene David, a 26-year-old Aeta tour guide, said her father, Bato, discovered the trail and has since frequented the area.
She said, “In the past, there were only trees here. Our ancestors didn’t venture into this area due to their fear of the dark. Even during the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, they were unaware of Tutulari. However, when we evacuated more than a decade ago and returned, we began considering the development of our mountains.”
The name Tutulari Avatar Gorge is derived from the Kapampangan word “tutulu,” meaning “dripping,” and is associated by Aetas with the movie “Avatar” as the gorge strongly resembles the landscapes shown in the Hollywood film.
“My father used to come here often, even before the roads existed. He named the area Tutulari because rainwater would cascade down like a stream,” Mylene said.
The Aeta community decided to open their ancestral domain to tourists with the aim of improving local infrastructure and fostering positive awareness and cultural appreciation.
In 2022, Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda handed over Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) No. 123 from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to 848 Aeta families.
The CADT grants the Aeta communities the rights, privileges, and responsibilities over their ancestral domain for collective development, control, management, and utilization, with the stipulation that it cannot be sold, disposed of, or destroyed.
How to get there
While the mossy gorges may be fascinating, reaching it is another story.
Local travel and tour operator, Pinatubo Mountainero, currently offers the Inarraro Eco Tour package at P1,625, which includes pick-up and drop-off services at SM City Clark or nearby hotels.
The six-hour itinerary involves off-roading from the Barangay Inarraro entry point all the way to the Mount Pinatubo Base Camp, where you’ll find the Inarraro View Deck.
For those driving to the area, the quickest route to the entry point is through Barangay Sapangbato in Angeles City. Tourists with private 4×4 SUVs can avail the same package with an additional P500 for the convoy.
For those planning to stay overnight, a nearby bed and breakfast accommodation, Muni Phils, is open for bookings and reservations. – Rappler.com