People of the Mountains – Igorots of the Cordilleras

Three weeks in the Cordilleras of Luzon and I feel like I have only scratched the surface of experiencing the rich cultures that make up the Igorot people. This is a common trend I have experienced while working on the Katutubong Filipino Project and one reason I hope to extended the project longer term, perhaps for another three years. More time is needed. This is especially true when trying to tell the story of the Igorot people who live in six different provinces with over 20 tribes all speaking different languages, practicing different rituals, and have different beliefs and cultures. Visiting the Cordilleras was like stepping into another country for me, a drastic change in geography and people’s general positive outlook and attitude toward their own way of life. Although I wasn’t able to visit all six provinces that make up the Cordilleras, this trip did provide as an excellent introduction to the area and whetted my appetite to learn and experience more on a return trip. READ FULL STORY AND SEE PHOTOS

We Made it! Kickstarter Campaign Successful

Thank you everyone!! Today we successfully reached and surpassed our goal on Kickstarter. We are extremely grateful for everyone’s support and can’t wait to get things started! Be sure to check back here throughout the course of the project as there should be many exciting and interesting updates. Thank you all again for believing in us and in the project. It’s now time for a mini celebration after two long months of campaigning.

My side of the story: What next year could bring

by Nahoma Maentz

Fifty-five days. That’s the number of days left before our fund-raising on Kickstarter ends. Many of you have already seen or heard about this project that my husband and I are hoping to accomplish. We’ve got a long, long way to go still; nonetheless, we are working hard each day on spreading this out to everyone simply because we want this project realized. For the value that we believe it holds.

It’s my husband who has always shown interest in covering Indigenous people, him being the photographer and always in search for unique subjects and stories. Frankly speaking, I had thought such groups didn’t exist anymore or had all been encroached on in some way. I remember in the 80s, during summers spent in Gigaquit, Surigao, it was a common sight to see the indigenous Mamanwas roaming around barely clothed. Nowadays, you can hardly see them going about town dressed the way they used to and sadly too, they have been heavily influenced by all these large mining companies surrounding them in all corners. They have learned to ask for money. They have learned to love money. Even when you approach them and politely ask if you can take their portraits, they will ask for money.  Everything now has a price tag for them. That’s when I started to think they are forever gone.

So when Jake took me along with him to Isabela last July 2011, I was a little bit hesitant due to the reason mentioned above. Also, it’s never easy to leave the kids even for just a few days. Good thing he was relentless in telling me how much he needed me to be there (to perform various roles:). Boy, am I glad I went else I would have missed so much relearning who I truly am. A Filipino. The Filipino. And I saw an abundance of that in these Dumagats and Agtas that we encountered and later befriended. Everything is still so fresh in my memory up until now – the loveliness of the people, the simplicity of life, nature and man supporting each other, depending on each other. Money has little or no value at all. It took me back to a world hundreds of years ago and at the same time, took me back inwards. I only have to think of them and I get my jolt of inspiration when I need it.

I have always been a proud citizen of this country despite the negative images oftentimes portrayed by fellow citizens. That one particular trip however, made me even prouder. Because I have found my roots. As authentic as it can ever get. And it is a beautiful culture, a beautiful world.

Unfortunately, a constant threat is hovering over these people and their land, and time may come when everything about them and their way of life will change. Big businesses, always on the look-out for more resources can barge in at any time. If and when that happens, what I’ve seen and come to love will surely vanish. No doubt, I will also lose a huge chunk of myself.

So with these thoughts, Jake and I came up with an idea to bring about awareness to these cultures. We know that not everyone is familiar of them and their existence. It is a very modern world we live, but we believe that this project can greatly benefit us, our children and our children’s children. That through photographs, we may always have something to look back with regards to our heritages. With pride.

May it never be lost.

59 Days and Counting – Project Launched

Today is a good day! We have been working on getting our Kickstarter campaign up for the past two weeks and now it has finally been launched. Check out our Kickstarter page now to watch the video we put together and all the awesome rewards for supporters. This campaign is for the first phase of the project, basically to cover travel costs to collect stories and images from all nine indigenous areas. For those of you not familiar with Kickstarter it’s an all or nothing type of crowd sourcing campaign. Meaning we have to raise our set goal in 60 days or the funds are returned to each donor. Please check out our campaign page to learn more and of course please spread the word to people. Any support you can offer will go a long way to help bring awareness to the indigenous peoples here.

Katutubo Website Launched

With the recent announcement of the Katutubong Filipino Project this website has been launched ( to highlight important information and updates about this documentary project. The Katutubong Filipino Project is a photographic project that will document the last remaining indigenous peoples in the Philippines. The project aims to collect images and stories from the nine major indigenous subgroups including the Ati, Badjao, Igorot, Ilongots, Lumad, Mangyan, Tumandok, Negritos of Luzon and the Palawan Tribes.

The project’s mission is to bring about awareness of the Philippine archipelago’s indigenous peoples’ by visually documenting their slowly disappearing cultural heritages. Katutubo is the Tagalog word for “native” or “indigenous,” combined with Filipino to collectively mean the “Indigenous Filipino Project.”