In recent years, the Ayta people’s traditional lifestyle has come into conflict with mainstream Filipino culture. New highways make it easy for land-hungry outsiders to acquire Ayta homelands, and officials plan to change the resettled Aytas’ livelihood from their semi-nomadic forest lifestyle to a sedentary existence of raising fish in ponds. Though Ayta families express opposition and fear about their future, they feel helpless as they watch the modern world encroach on their way of life.
When missionaries arrive with gifts, medical services or entertainment, a large crowd always gathers, creating the illusion that many Ayta are Christians. But most still call on spirit mediums when family members are ill, and appease forest spirits before planting gardens or building homes. Local churches simply don’t have the tools they need to reach Ayta hearts.