Ati tribe members use long bamboo poles to position the basketball hoop in the community area of Kurong Village in Malay, Aklan, Philippines.

Ati village now features hoop, swings, sunset seating

Quarantines over; time to play!

It may seem a bit premature, with a major surge of Delta COVID cases in Manila, but the Philippines (like many nations) is relaxing coronavirus protocols nationwide. The pandemic is becoming endemic.

That means here in Malay, Aklan, Panay — where we’re waiting for international travel barriers to lessen — we can move about comparatively freely, cautiously visit friends and neighbors, even purchase alcohol again. Woohoo!

To celebrate the end of many weeks of local “Enhanced Community Quarantine with modifications” we completed some ‘lifestyle upgrades’ for the nearby indigenous Ati tribe we’ve befriended and supported throughout the virus time.

Yep, that is a basketball hoop and backboard being installed. The ‘court’ is the dirt/grass plaza of the hilltop Ati village known as ‘Kurong’ (translated to English literally as ‘curly hair’).

Below are a few more pics of the day the disadvantaged tribe got their game back.

Basketball is THE sport of the Philippines (I’ve never yet seen a soccer ball). And like many Filipinos, the Ati — despite their diminutive stature — are spirited and accomplished players/shooters.

It was fun to witness and sponsor the Ati community effort to raise the tree post, plywood backboard, and rim with a rare net. Amazingly, the process was completed with minimal tools and no ladder… but plenty of bare hands, shouts, and bamboo poles.

Actually, if you look closely, the photos show two different hoops being put up. The first one I purchased (colored blue) at our local small-town market broke after a couple days of heavy shooting usage.

We took it down, welded it, and reinstalled — but the flimsy rim support came apart again after a few more days. $20 imported junk! Thankfully, a trusty, rusty, old piece of rebar was available, fashioned into a hoop, welded — and is now being used without issue. (We transferred the net).

Ati tribe members of all ages can now shoot hoops for fun, relaxation, and exercise. When I hike up, it makes me smile to hear the bouncing ball before I can even see the plaza area. I’ve also witnessed some wagering on intense half-court games.

The backboard/hoop set up was the missing piece in our efforts to create a park-like ‘community space’ for the Ati around their central village plaza.

As seen in the pics above, in addition to the basketball court, we crafted and added swings and see-saws and climbing apparatus for kids. Some thick, de-barked, timber pieces were arranged for table seating with a gorgeous sunset view.

My western capitalist vision is to have a café on site… lol. Truthfully, there are no potential customers at present – but who knows about the future.

It would be great if someday the Ati themselves had disposable income for restaurant dining. More likely, local visitors/tourists might be invited up. There are some terrific ‘Instagram opportunities’.

Of course, all our Ati help and upgrades have been made with the support of overseas donors. Earth Vagabonds and the Ati themselves are grateful for the generosity throughout this difficult time. (A full project list with links is just below.)

Like everyone on earth, Filipinos are tired of the COVID saga and restrictions and the dreadful economic hardship. And although the country continues to grapple with virus cases and vaccine distribution, it’s heartening to see something so natural as children playing.

With any luck, things will continue to improve here and worldwide. And activities like basketball and café dining will become commonplace again for the Ati and all of us.

As always, be thankful and generous (like our overseas donors), happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!

Earth Vagabonds Ati projects for Kurong Village

In addition to the playground and community area detailed above, these are our Ati projects:

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