Between the Volcano and the Well: A Review of the Outcomes and Impact of the Tomas Project for the Mag-Antsi Aetas of Anupul, Bamban, Tarlac,Philippines


  • Noel G Asiones University of Santo Tomas


In 2001, the University of Santo Tomas Office for Community Development of the University started to journey, through its Aeta Integrated Development Program (AIDP), with the Mag-antsi Aetas of Bamban, Tarlac, seeking to help them recover from the severe effects of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Towards a tangible and sustained development, it designed and implemented its Tomas Project in response to the Aetas' expressed needs and challenges at that time. The title of the study depicts its overarching intent to carve a path for the dispossessed and displaced people that hopefully will bring them from the volcano to a better place of choice and opportunity as symbolized by the well. Close to 10 years after its implementation, a comprehensive assessment of the Tomas Project seemed timely in order to take stock of its disaster reconstruction efforts and outcomes. A central underlying question in this endeavor is, "Did the Tomas Project work?" Using participative action research and triangulating data-gathering techniques, the study sought to answer this question. Findings suggest that the Aetas continue to struggle with the combined impact of displacement from their ancestral land and the needed socio-economic adjustments they have to make in the resettlement areas. In some respects, the desired tangible and sustainable outcomes of the Project have not led them yet to a "geography of opportunity" that can at least approximate what the hospitable mountain and forest of Pinatubo provided them since time immemorial. In spite of its unquestionable organizational commitment, proven capacity, good funding, and substantive control of the development process, it appears that the Tomas Project remains a work in progress and has not made a significant and sustainable dent on their grinding living conditions. This work may be relevant to studies on disaster recovery, vulnerability, and resilience of communities with similar experience. Keywords: indigenous people, community development, outcome and impact evaluation

Author Biography

Noel G Asiones, University of Santo Tomas

Teaches at the University of Santo Tomas and does Research with the Research Cluster for Educational, Cultural and Social Issues. His field of interest includes community development, religion and youth