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Writers Against Racism: Carla Pacis


Racism isn’t so much of an issue in the Philippines in the same way it is in the USA.  However, we continue to have many different tribal groups who are considered a minority in this country.  They have, fortunately, been able to preserve much of their old traditions and way of life.  This, however, has kept them on the margins of both the urban and rural life of the areas in which they live, which leads to discrimination.  


I have had the privilege of coming in close contact with one of these tribal groups known as the Aeta, one of the oldest tribal groups in the Philippines and most probably the first group to settle in the Philippines way before the arrival of the Spaniards.  They are shorter than most Filipinos, darker, and have distinctly kinky hair and flat noses.  They are semi-nomadic and live in the forest areas far from the urban areas but come into the city to sell the crops they grow and buy canned food and other items.   The Aetas I met had been displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Their biggest problem was (1) being unable to move over great distances and having to be too close to their neighbors, some of whom were not Aetas but people displaced from the barrios near the volcano (lowlanders) (2) the inability to eat canned food.  


This short encounter with this particular Aeta group led to my short novel for children called Owl Friends about the friendship between an Aeta boy and a girl from the lowlands.  I tackle the issue of discrimination and also bring out the extensive knowledge of the Aetas of medicinal herbs. When I am asked to speak at schools, I show them pictures of an Aeta boy happy in the company of his pet twin monkeys, or Aetas with their handmade bow and arrows or flute.   I have other short stories about other tribes such as the Badjao from Mindanao, who are discriminated against simply because they live out at sea, although this is no longer possible. 


Hopefully, by introducing children to the fact that there are tribal people who live among us, their awareness is increased and they will learn to treat people who are different with respect and kindness. 


  1. George Edward Stanley says:

    Carla, thank you for much for your story. Lawton has a large Filipino community and Cameron University has classes in Tagalog. I’m going to share this with my Filipino friends. Amy, I can even begin to tell you how excited I am to hear that the W.A.R stories will continue because more and more writers are sharing their stories. Given recent comments by politicians, it’s easy to see why the Writers Against Racism movement needs to continue!!

  2. I love hearing about books where people are allowed to discover each other. Thanks for more stories.

  3. We often forget that race doesn’t exist only in the US; thanks to Carla for introducing a broader vision of inclusiveness and diversity.

  4. George Edward Stanley says:

    I agree, Zetta! This should be a world-wide movement. I can’t wait to read OWL FRIENDS!

  5. I learned so much just from reading this post. Everyone can’t afford to travel but reading is free.
    I love the cover. The owl looks nice and cozy.

  6. George Edward Stanley says:

    78ptr, can’t you just imagine how reading the W.A.R. authors would expand the horizons of our young people? They would actually be living the experiences of every one of their classmates. They wouldn’t be stuck in the time warp of the reading lists in today’s public schools!

  7. I’m in public schools and we’re trying to update the reading list, adding new to the old and mixing them up. Right now almost everyone in school is reading Enrique’s Journey (the One City, One Book selection) and they’re loving it. Students who never read books have bought this one and worked to get a ticket so they can meet the author. What a thougt – reluctant readers asking if they can read ahead! And showing up at book discussions held at the public library. And the students are tying the book in with all the Odyssey themed stories they have read over the years – making them seem more real as they connect with a young boy much like them who is making his own journey. We’ve quit waiting for schools to find the money to buy the books. We ask students to buy them or buy them ourselves. I works, and it’s worth it if they start reading.

  8. Somehow I put my display name as 78ptr. Very smart. Not only do the students get to read a book they enjoy they get to meet the author, nice.

  9. What a neat opportunity to educate a country about itself, AND Americans about the Philippines. I’m intrigued.

  10. Aline Pereira/PaperTigers says:

    Thanks for your enlightening contribution, Carla. We look forward to sharing your PaperTigers interview, on October 2 (when we will be focusing on children’s literature from/about the Philippines), and to pointing our readers to this post.

  11. Balintay_Clan says:

    There is rascism everywhere. I am 4th generation Aeta of Mt. Pinatubo Balintay Clan. Before the volcano erupted, when all the Great Warriors were still around, tagalog’s never showed any rascism, because they knew they would be direspecting us Aeta’s and plus they wouldn’t see another day. The problem with these tagolog’s is they have a big mouth but a chicken heart. You should check out the video called The Last Refuge: Aeta’s of the Philippines.

  12. Amy Bowllan says:

    Balintay, I will certainly look into this video. Thank you for sharing. -Amy