New Clark City opened doors to better economic opportunities for indigenous people (IP) living in Capas, Tarlac with the employment and livelihood programs initiated by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Jaymar Tiglao of Sitio Kalangitan is only one of more than 300 Aetas who are employed in the construction of New Clark City Phase 1A or the National Government Administrative Center (NGAC).
According to Tiglao, since the start of the development project, many of them in the Aeta communities no longer need to continue planting camote crops in the upland. Their debts in “sari-sari” stores had already been paid off with the salaries they got from their more stable jobs as laborers in New Clark City. Some of them were even able to purchase motorcycles.
Those without jobs no longer hang around doing nothing and have become more productive, Tiglao said. “Maaga na natutulog ang mga tao dahil maaga na sila nagigising para pumasok. Nawala na ang mga tambay sa aming lugar.”
Tiglao said his life became better because he now has a more stable job compared in the past when he used to plant camote and other crops without any assurance of selling them for profit.
Reynaldo Medrano, chieftain of Sitio Kalangitan, echoed the sentiments of Tiglao.
“Nagpapasalamat kami dahil lahat ng pwedeng magtrabaho, nandoon sila sa New Clark City. Sa akin kasing karanasan, ang magsasaka ay laging bagsak,” said Medrano.
“Yung mga kababayan ko sa Kalangitan, masaya kami na nakikita namin na nandyan sila nagtatrabaho at kumikita…May trabaho, may mga maayos na daan, at masaya ang bawat pamilya dahil may pagkain yung mga bata,” Bayani Sumawang, Aeta tribal leader and former commissioner of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), added.
Because of the roads being built to and from New Clark City, access and connectivity have become possible for everyone, particularly IPs, residents, and farmers for their livelihood. The roads benefit especially those living in far-flung barangays.
BCDA holds regular dialogues with the NCIP and the communities to assure that they are part of the New Clark City development.
Financial assistance packages amounting to Php300,000 per hectare (or Php30.00/sq.m.) were made available, the highest compensation package provided by government, to project-affected people.
Relocations sites within New Clark City were also provided for those whose residential structures were affected.
BCDA worked with credible institutions, such as the University of the Philippines and the Asian Development Bank, to master-plan, and ensure the sustainability and inclusivity of New Clark City.