Climate Change Impact on the Way of Life of Indigenous Peoples of Palawan
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Climate Change Impact on the Way of Life of Indigenous Peoples of Palawan

Climate change has impacted heavily on the way of life of indigenous people, the Palaw'ans.

The brunt of climate change impact has caused a major change in the way of life of the indigenous Palaw’ans of Culasian in southern Palawan in the Philippines. The peaceful group of Palaw’ans saw their crops eaten by multitudes of rats out of nowhere during the driest months of the year. Pests are everywhere devouring their livelihood.

The Old Man

An old man, a native Palaw’an, living alone in the mountains was last seen weaving handicrafts for a living. He had not eaten anything in days due to poor crop growth. One day, a fellow tribesman saw him dead, his hands still holding his handmade craft. Many of the native Palaw’ans became malnourished, threatening their very existence.

Coping Mechanism

As a coping mechanism, the native Palaw’ans content themselves with what was left of lowlanders’ rice harvest. They winnowed the mounds of rice straw in farmlands hoping to collect enough grains of rice to pass the day. It would have been an ordinary sight had the author not asked about those people and found out why. They are not the harvesters. They are the scavengers of the rural areas (see how urban scavengers behave).

way of life picture

The native Palaw'ans winnow grain from chaff in Barangay Culasian.

The native Palaw’ans noted that their recent experience is unlike any that they have been through before. There was a shift in the seasons and they saw their efforts to plant rice gone to waste as sudden, heavy rains pounded the almost ripe crops. They could not predict the whims of the weather.

Aside from rat outbreaks, changes in weather can also trigger the spread of plant diseases, parched crops, lesser crop production, and displace farmers from their land (see 5 agricultural consequences of global climate change).

Change in Way of Life

The problem of global climate change still lingers and affects all people. It appears, however, that people relying on subsistence farming and fishing or hand-to-mouth existence such as the Palaw’ans are at a disadvantage. While these people can undertake many coping mechanisms, their way of life which would have had positive effects on the environment, is gravely threatened.

Subsistence living requires the minimum amount of natural resources keeping the forests and coastal regions virtually intact until the much more exploitative activities of the migrants came into play. There seems to be a need for the indigenous people to change their way of life in order to cope up successfully to the growing threats of global climate change.

©Patrick A. Regoniel 9 December 2010

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Comments (2)

very interesting story here..they are great really... I've seen Palawan's boys at age of 7-9 years old able to swim and diving at sea. :)

Thanks Mr. Ghaz for your encouragement.