Building a chicken coop with the Ati people

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

This past Sunday I wrote here about the amazing sight of dozens of indigenous Filipinos hacking through jungle mountains and working together to hang nearly a mile of electrical cable to their remote mountain village. Now more photos that seem like from another time; when neighbors came together and worked the earth with their hands.

The indigenous Filipinos are the Ati people. A tribe that came to Boracay Island an estimated 30,000 years ago from Borneo. Unfortunately, like native American Indians, the Ati today are near the bottom of the Philippine social and economic order. 

We first met the Ati leaders a couple weeks ago and are assisting the tribe with food and finance for several ongoing projects on their mountainous land in Malay, Aklan, on Panay Island. The photos you see here are the start of the rebuilding of their hen house.

Building a chicken coop

The Ati indigenous tribe clears their steep jungle land in June 2020, so Earth Vagabonds can help them build a chicken coop.

Like many people around the world, the Ati have had a rough 2020 thus far. On top of pandemic quarantines, lost income, and low food supplies, some of their community infrastructure – including the chicken house – was destroyed by typhoon Ursula just before the COVID-19 crisis. It’s one of the Ati projects we Earth Vagabonds are now ‘sponsoring’ with the help of some other generous donors as well.

As with the electrical wiring effort, the chicken house is truly a community project. But whereas the Sunday morning electric cable work was a 1-day volunteer event, construction of the new chicken building is much more involved. 

In fact, in order to ‘fast track’ the building process, we’ve decided to pay wages to the Ati workers. The 20 men in the photos are happy to have the assured jobs at the same rate they hopefully get in their usual day-labor work around the area; 250 Philippine Pesos (five U.S. dollars).

Without wages, the chicken house workers would have to seek other daily employment and the chicken/hen/egg project could only be addressed on off days – Sundays. With monsoon season coming soon, and many Ati needing certain work, we think it’s a fair and easy way to get the project done and get some money into the hands of individual Ati families.

Supply run

the second step of building a chicken coop with the ati is to secure supplies, as seen here with a trip to town.

While the work crew started digging a level and well-protected foundation/floor for the new hen house, myself and the Ati tribe chief and secretary went into the nearby town of Caticlan with a list of needed building supplies for the structure.

It was an interesting experience to be present for the pricing and ordering of the various components: cement, cinder-blocks, lumber, nipa roofing, rebar, nails, plywood, etc. — all done in the Visayan/Tagalog language. After a handful of stops and a couple hours, we had what we needed – with most items scheduled for future delivery.

Next: the 20-man work crew will construct the new Ati hen house. I’ll be there daily keeping an eye on things with the Ati chief and handling the ‘accounting’. Then: chicken shopping!

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Building a chicken coop with the Ati people.”

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Reminder: this is an independent blog. Unlike other travel bloggers, we do not do this to make money. We do this for fun, as a hobby, and to tell our American friends and families about the people who live in other countries with different cultures. Also, Earth Vagabonds strongly advocate for travel when international borders reopen.

2 thoughts on “Building a chicken coop with the Ati people”

  1. How cool to be part of such a worthwhile project! Are they are using the trunks of rooted trees to attach the roof framing onto? That seems smart because then the foundation won’t have to support the weight of the roof. Very interesting stuff!

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