Children at school

People expressed a desire for better educational opportunities © Eden Terol

New research from the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) explores the wellbeing and satisfaction of indigenous Ayta families in Luzon, and highlights their concerns over access to healthcare and education.

The Aytas are a group of indigenous people thought to be descended from the very first inhabitants of the Philippines. They live in scattered, isolated communities in mountainous parts of the island of Luzon.

Like many indigenous peoples, the Aytas have traditionally been marginalised, and many live without access to basic amenities like running water or access to healthcare.

Although there have been some efforts to ensure their rights are upheld, it is widely acknowledged that more needs to be done to tackle poverty and social injustice among the Ayta people.

This year, Professor Eden Terol and her colleagues at UPD embarked on a study to assess the Aytas’ current wellbeing and explore their hopes, fears and future aspirations. They observed and interviewed 50 Ayta families living in the Pampanga district.

They found that overall wellbeing and satisfaction was low, with many expressing unhappiness over lack of water and lack of educational opportunities in their communities.

A researcher interviews an Ayta family

A researcher interviews an Ayta family © University of the Philippines Diliman

Health was a prominent concern, with early death and ill health among the biggest fears. Concerns about landslides in the area and the associated damage to property were also mentioned.

When asked about their hopes and aspirations for the future, they appeared to have no fears in terms of their material wealth, but seemed primarily concerned with the health and happiness of their families. Most people expressed a desire for good health for themselves and their family, as well as for their children to be educated.


This research aims to raise public awareness of the challenges faced by indigenous people in the Philippines, and help the local government design and deliver programs that will improve the Aytas’ lives and ensure a better future for generations to come.

For further information contact:

Professor Eden H. Terol
University of the Philippines Extension Program in Pampanga