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Tribal people find place in 'paradise'

Philippine govt finally grant Ati families their own land on Boracay

A nun talks with Ati children in Boracay A nun talks with Ati children in Boracay
  • ucanews.com staff, Manila
  • Philippines
  • February 16, 2011
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At least 40 indigenous Ati families on the central Philippine island of Boracay have finally found a home in what tourist brochures call “paradise.”

The tribal people have recently received land titles from the government giving them the right to own 2.1-hectares of land on the island.

The Land Registration Authority awarded the plot late last year but only gave the land titles last month.

Delta, the tribal chief, thanked all those who helped the tribe secure their place in paradise.

“At last we don’t need to roam around the island. We now have land of our own,” he said.

Boracay parish priest Father Isauro David, said the site suits their needs perfectly and has a source of water and transport links.

“They can plant vegetables and other crops there,” the priest said.

It has been a long wait, however.

Last year, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples announced that a Certificate of Ancestral Domain had been issued to the Ati, 10 years after they filed a petition claiming land in the village of Manoc-Manoc.

Since 2000, the Atis, who number about 2,000, have been claiming legal ownership over Boracay, which they regard their ancestral home.

The island is now a major tourist destination famous for its white sands and beautiful sunsets.

The Supreme Court had earlier declared Boracay government land, affirming a presidential proclamation that classified more than half the island as “disposable.”

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