Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 5, No 1 (2016)

Aeta Indigenous Women Healers in the Philippines: Lessons and Implications

Rose Ann Torres


This study investigates two central research problems. These are: What are the healing practices of Aeta women? What are the implications of the healing practices of Aeta women in the academic discourse? This inquiry is important for the following reasons: (a) it focuses a reconsidered gaze and empirical lens on the healing practices of Aeta women healers as well as the lessons, insights and perspectives which may have been previously missed; (b) my research attempts not to be 'neutral' but instead be an exercise in participatory action research and as such hopefully brings a new space of decolonization by documenting Aeta women healers’ contributions in the political and academic arena; and (c) it is an original contribution to postcolonial, anti-colonial and Indigenous feminist theories particularly through its demonstration the utility of these theories in understanding the health of Indigenous peoples and global health. There are 12 Aeta women healers who participated in the Talking Circle. This study is significant in grounding both the theory and the methodology while comparatively evaluating claims calibrated against the benchmark of the actual narratives of Aeta women healers. These evaluations subsequently categorized my findings into three themes: namely, identity, agency and representation. This work is also important in illustrating the Indigenous communities’ commonalities on resistance, accommodation, evolution and devolution of social institutions and leadership through empirical example. The work also sheds light on how the members of our Circle and their communities’ experiences with outsider intrusion and imposed changes intentionally structured to dominate them as Indigenous people altered our participants and their communities. Though the reactions of the Aeta were and are unique in this adaptive process they join a growing comparative scholarly discussion on how contexts for colonization were the same or different. This dissertation therefore joins a growing comparative educational literature on the contextual variations among global experiences with colonization. This is important since Indigenous Peoples' experiences are almost always portrayed as unique or “exotic”. I can now understand through comparison that many of the processes from military to pedagogical impositions bore striking similarities across various colonial, geographical and cultural locations.


Aeta women healers; Aeta people; Indigenous knowledge production; talking circle; Indigenous healing; public health; anti-colonial theory; post-colonial theory; colonization; Indigenous feminism; decolonizing methodologies; participatory action research;

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