In pictures: Protecting the Philippines' Mangyan tribes
For generations, the dense tropical rainforests of Occidental Mindoro in the Philippines have been home to 7 tribes of indigenous people collectively called the Mangyan.
Not only are the Mangyan physically and socially isolated from the rest of the Filipino population, but they are also among the poorest and most marginalised.
It is estimated that 60% of Mangyan children are malnourished. Infant mortality is high and a child considered fortunate to reach the age of 10.
Most Mangyan people follow ancient farming methods which rely on root crops. Over 5,000 farmers have been trained by Plan in sustainable farming to help the community through the rainy season.
The reclusive community also face another threat as their ancestral land is believed to be rich in gold, gas and minerals worth millions of dollars.
"We are petrified that big mining companies will soon take over our ancestral domain and fear our land and heritage will be lost forever," says Juanito Lumawig, supreme leader of the Mangyan.
Plan is assisting the Mangyan to gain the title of their ancestral land - helping them to document their case, survey their land and create 3D maps of their 40,000 hectares of forest.
Through livelihood training in honey production, the Mangyan people are now able to process and supply forest honey directly to local markets, giving them economic security.
The Mangyan people can see the immediate gains. "Now, we process our own honey, sell it direct in the market and earn 70 pesos for 300-gramme jars," says 32-year-old Roberto.
Plan has also set up Alternative Learning System (ALS) centres to provide basic literacy lessons for over 1,000 Mangyan people in their own dialect.
The ALS initiative preserves and promotes the Mangyan's unique cultural identity. Traditional stories, songs and poems have been archived for future generations in story books.
In addition, community members and teachers have been trained to use art forms, such as painting and shadow puppetry, to keep the Mangyan people's cultural identity alive.
9 August 2011: As the UN marks International Day of the World's Indigenous People, the indigenous Mangyan people in the Philippines prepare for another restless night of fear and uncertainty.
Living in the dense, dark forests of Mindoro Island, which are believed to be rich in gold, gas and minerals, the Mangyan tribes are under threat from commercial exploitation.
“We are petrified that big mining companies will take over our ancestral land. If the government gives them licence to operate, our land and heritage will be lost forever,” says Juanito Lumawig, the 62-year-old supreme leader of the Mangyan tribes.
View the slideshow to learn more about the challenges faced by the Mangyan and see how Plan is assisting them to gain the title of their ancestral land.
Community projects to support livelihoods and protect the Mangyan’s unique cultural identity are also underway.
Read an article on the Mangyan by Plan's Davinder Kumar via the Huffington Post* website
Learn more about Plan’s work in the Philippines
*Plan is not responsible for the content on external websites