MANILA, Philippines – Broadcast journalist Anthony Taberna meets the “Anne Curtis” of the Aetas this Friday (April 10) on “Tapatan ni Tunying” as he travels to Subic, Zambales and Capas, Tarlac to check in on the plight of the Aeta community.
Inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Tunying tries Matam-Ih, a restaurant serving authentic Aeta and Kapampangan cuisine. Aside from its menu, the restaurant’s interior design is also inspired by the Aeta culture and its more than 50 staff members are of Aeta descent. But here in Matam-Ih, every waiter and waitress is given a celebrity name.
Jenery Victoria, or “Anne Curtis,” admits that working as a waitress, and eventually as a supervisor, in the restaurant took some getting used to. “It just so happened that she’s my idol and I picked the name by drawing lots. At first, I was hesistant to use it. Guests would say, ‘You’re Anne Curtis, but Anne Curtis is fair and beautiful. Why are you dark-skinned? I’d tell them, ‘I’m the Anne Curtis who bathed in the sun and went swimming,’” she adds.
Jenery, a licensed teacher, has experienced discrimination all her life due to her skin color and ethnicity, a challenge that she continues to endure here in the restaurant. Despite the difficulties, Jenery is happy that she is able to help her family through her work in the restaurant. Employment doesn’t come easy for people like her, even with a diploma, Jenery says.
Even with a stable job in the city, Jenery still wishes to go back to their community in Sitio Kalangitan in Capas, Tarlac and teach young Aetas.
“Education is important to indigenous people like us. Being an Aeta does not mean we should just farm in the mountains. We should show that we can also grow and become successful just like our fellow kababayans,” Jenery says.
Watch “Tapatan ni Tunying” tomorrow (April 10), 4:30 PM on ABS-CBN’s Kapamilya Gold.