BASEY, Samar, Sept. 22 (PNA) — The provincial government here and the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Eastern Visayas have provided indigenous instruments and costumes to the Mamanwa Tribe in this town, citing the group’s contribution to local tourism growth.

“We met them a few months back and asked their tribe chieftain if they would be willing to open up their village to visitors. Her reply was yes, but in accordance to what is only allowed by their customs and traditions,” said DOT Eastern Visayas Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes.

“Today, the Mamanwa Tribe of Basey became part of our growing EV tourism family. They will tell you their stories, share their culture and warm your hearts, their place is the jump off point in visiting the famous Sohoton Cave and Natural Bridge National Park.”

Indigenous musical instrument “kimbal and agong” were turned over on Tuesday. Samar Vice Governor Stephen James was present to personally hand over the instruments bought by the provincial government in Mindanao.

The tribe members were also given their indigenous costumes from the DOT, where they proudly displayed during the turnover.

The Mamanwas came to Samar in the early 1950s when they left Surigao in search for a peaceful place and a land to cultivate. Nomadic in the past five decades, the tribe lost their houses to super typhoon Yolanda and found their way to Basey from Eastern Samar, where the local community welcomed them, according Tiopes.

The Alliance of Bible Christian Community helped them in rebuilding their village in Guirang village.

Currently, there are 20 Mamanwa families who settled in the village. The provincial government vowed to provide electricity to their settlement.

The term Mamanwa means “First Forest Dwellers”, derived from “man” (first) and “banwa” (forest). The Mamanwas still use their own dialect when they communicate among themselves although most of them can now speak the dialects of the lowlanders.

According to anthropologists and archeologists, one theory suggests that the Mamanwas are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines who arrived through land bridges that linked the country with the Asia mainland some 50,000 years ago. (PNA) LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA/EGR