Introduction / History
The Dumagat people are of the Agta Negrito groups found in Luzon. In the past, these people lived in coastal areas of Aurora and Quezon provinces and were lords in their own domain. However, because of the coming of Filipino homesteaders into the Agta area they were pushed into the mountains, and dispersed in small groups.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Dumagats are semi-nomadic. They move from place to place in search of better habitation. Recently, they have learned to live permanent settlements. They are reported found scattered in different locations. They are also divided into six languages.
The Umiray are one of the subgroups of the Dumagat.
Dumagat families are generally simple nuclear family. They live in extended family grouping. If conflicts arise among themselves, they just move away.
In the past, men wore a cloth of g-string and the women wore wrap around skirts. Now, they wear used, machine sewed lowland clothes.
Economically, they are very poor. Their livelihood ranges from hunting and gathering to having gardens and raising coconuts. These days, hunting and gathering are greatly reduced due to depletion of forest resources caused by logging operations. Many of them now work as unskilled laborers for lowland farmers near their location. Most Dumagats are tied into a patron-client relationship with one or more lowlander families. In this relationship, the Dumagats gather rattan and trade it with the lowlander or they work for the lowlander. In turn, the lowlander gives them rice, tobacco, money, or other items. In many cases, Dumagats are abused, oppressed and are always on the losing end. Most of them are unable to determine the fair equivalent of goods being exchanged or services rendered. They depend on their relationship for their daily ration of food.
Within their culture, much of the behavior is governed by rules between types of kinsmen. The family itself is the organization that undertakes all roles. Their social control system is unstructured. If conflicts arise, they just move away some old people.
The Dumagats are animist. Practices and beliefs differ from person to person. Dumagat animism has less control over the people's daily lives. In addition, they have adopted some of the beliefs of their Christian neighbors. Now, they hold to a universal belief in a single God, maybe a result of Christian influence. Cultish groups are also working in the area.
There has been a lot of mission work done in each of these Dumagat language groups.
Pray for a wide distribution of the Dumagat Scriptures to open the hearts of the Dumagats.
Pray that the Aeta believers as well as the Dumagat believers will take the responsibility to go ahead in the Christian groups with preaching and teaching the gospel - to reach other Negritos.
Praise God for the fruit of the faithful missionary efforts. Praise God for the Dumagat believers. Pray that the Holy Spirit will make them grow and remain in the Lord even after the missionaries have left.
Praise God for community aid projects done for the Dumagats. Praise God also that some of them have learned to live in permanent settlements facilitated by concerned groups. However, many agencies were unsuccessful in their attempts to help settle the Dumagats because their ways and means conflict with the Dumagat values and social organization. Pray that if anyone who wishes to help the Dumagats, assistance be given in a way that agrees with the values and present limitations of the Dumagat culture.
The future of the Dumagats looks bleak. Serious problems include drunkenness, chronic malnutrition, decimation of wild game, loss of land to lowland homesteaders and probably ethnic disintegration. Pray that God will show mercy to these people, and provide help to meet their needs.
Scripture Prayers for the Agta, Umiray in Philippines.
Asia Missions (AMNET)