Bohol, Philippines: Meeting the Eskaya tribe in Duero, Bohol
Bohol Eskaya tribe scripts

Bohol, Philippines: Meeting the Eskaya tribe in Duero, Bohol

Tara and I were thinking of skipping Bohol altogether because of the seeming inexistence of any indigenous peoples community in the province. But, when we did a search on Google Images for indigenous peoples + Bohol, that’s when we saw the Eskaya scripts. From that moment on, we knew that we NEEDED to see the Eskaya tribe.

Eskaya tribe scripts

While we planned this trip as much as we could, finding the Eskaya tribe was quite tricky. At that time (December 2012), very little information about them was available online. We searched for a possible tour guide (there was none) and details on how to get there (there was also none). Even our Couchsurfing host, a local of Bohol, had not heard of them. But, we still gave it a go, not knowing if we would find the tribe that we so wanted to meet and know more about.

Getting to the Eskaya Tribe

In Tagbilaran, we took a bus going to Ubay, which is two towns from Duero. While on the bus, Tara and I asked a couple of passengers if they know how we could get to the Eskaya tribe in Duero. I’m not sure if it was the language barrier or if they were just protecting the community, but it seemed like they were hesitant to point us in the direction of the Eskaya tribe. 

At one point, we were talking that perhaps we should not pursue our trip to meet the tribe. In my mind, if the locals, who were supposed to be proud of this community or at least know of them, were scared, then maybe we’re pushing it a bit too far this time?

But, thinking about it now, perhaps they were not scared – maybe they were just PROTECTIVE of the Eskaya tribe. We are outsiders; they do not know us. And, our visit was probably an invasion of their protected space. I understand and respect that.

We alighted in Duero and went up to a shop to buy something that would cover Tara’s tattoo from the scorching heat of the sun. Tara and I found a store on the second floor, where Tara bought her red bandana. We asked the local seller if he knew of the Eskaya tribe. He was speaking in their dialect that both Tara and I do not speak. But, when he mentioned the keyword, Taytay, we immediately asked him if there’s anyone he trusts who could bring us to the community. He went down and found our manong habal-habal. [Read: A Visit to Bohol Eskaya Tribe]

The guy we rode with has been a motorcycle driver for the last eight years. He also used to deliver bread to the community in the earlier years, which is why he knew of the Eskaya tribe. The road was rough. There were times when I felt like we were in a different world – like a page from a fairytale book. Sans the pained butts, I enjoyed the ride and took in the view and fresh air.

Meeting the Eskaya Tribe

The Eskaya is an indigenous tribe from Bohol, Philippines. They lived in a beautiful community on a mountain in Duero, Bohol. According to Bohol Tourism website, the Eskaya “originated from a butterfly called Pinya Paypay Ping. The butterfly interacted with a lion and lioness which conceived a monkey that gave birth to the humans.”

Eskaya Tribe Duero Bohol Philippines

In the short time that we spent with the Eskayas, we learned that the scripts that we saw while we were doing our research were the letters of their alphabet in tablets. I found it interesting that they have 46 letters, basically derived from one’s body, body parts, and body movements.

Eskaya tribe scripts

They hold classes in their traditional school, Eskaya ya Pilipayen, every weekend. And, they have their rendition of our National Anthem in the Eskaya dialect.

Eskaya tribe

We also saw their manifesto, printed in their script, expressing their commitment to preserving their culture and traditions.

Eskaya tribe

It is my genuine hope that all indigenous peoples tribes in the Philippines would also commit to preserving their traditions, culture, and art and pass them on to the next generations.

Eskaya tribe

Sending you love and good vibes,

Monica

P.S. Thank YOU! And, in whatever space you are in now, I hope that you got something from reading this post. Talk to you soon!

Updated on October 29, 2020. Originally published on January 13, 2013.

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Ge Ann

    nice post you have here..i am now convincing my boss to stop by duero on our trip to bohol…www.sky-clad.blogspot.com

    1. monica

      Hi Ge Ann! I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂 And, yes, it would be worth the trip going to Taytay (through Duero) when you guys visit Bohol. 🙂

  2. Kiezel Abarquez

    SUPERB! 🙂

    1. monica

      Thanks, Kiezel!

  3. Kiezel Abarquez

    Hi. I would just like to ask, do you have any documentary or videos regarding Eksaya’s culture? We have decided to make Eksaya as our topic in our film documentary with the theme “Filipino Culture in the Advent of Globalization”. The said film documentary will focus on Eksaya’s changing customs and traditions brought by globalization. However, there are only few supporting videos and pictures in the internet.
    Thank you. 🙂

    1. monica

      Hi Kiezel! Apologies for the late response. Really good to know that you’ve decided to make Eskaya your topic for your film documentary. I think they’re one of our communities who have a lot to share and who need support in terms of making their traditions and culture known to more people.

      Unfortunately, though, I didn’t get to take any video during our visit. My camera didn’t have the capacity. 🙂 But, if there’s any other way I can support you in your project, let me know. 🙂

  4. Gbert Tenio Ampz

    ito ba ung cnasabing tribe daw na ksamang gumawa sa tower of david?
    at may nag sasabi din na baka daw cla daw ung nawawalang ikaw 12 tribes ng israel? …

    due to their language and writings

    1. monica

      Hello Gbert 🙂

      To be honest, I haven’t heard of that story. Pero, I didn’t know of Eskaya tribe’s existence din naman until the latter part of 2012, when we saw their pics on the web. But, yes, I have heard of questions about where they really came from, like if they’re really indigenous to the Philippines. I was looking for other write-ups on them but I haven’t found anything really informative (so if you have other resources, kindly point me to the right direction!). And, we only had a coupla hours of interaction with them so we just really enjoyed the moment. 🙂 Where did you learn of that story? Maganda ngang aralin ang Eskaya tribe. Baka pwedeng research topic. 😉

      Thanks for visiting my blog!

      Cheers,
      Monica

  5. Bamps

    Hi!

    Is it far from the city? Is it okay to stay there? Is it safe? Thanks

    1. thebohotravels

      Hi Bamps!

      It is quite far from the city. From Tagbilaran, it took us a couple of hours, I think. Then, we had to hire a habal-habal to get us to Taytay Village, where they are based. For that, if memory serves, it took us another hour or so. But, the view getting there is amazing. 🙂

      From what I heard, there are some who actually opt for homestay with them. I didn’t get to try this one though, so I am afraid I cannot give further information.

      I felt safe going there, to be honest. It is one of those places not frequented by tourists, though, so you need to make sure that you get a habal-habal driver who knows the place or have been there in the past. When we went, we were lucky to find someone who knew the place and who’ve been there several times (he delivered bread to the neighborhood). It wasn’t quite easy for us, though, because we didn’t know how to speak Bisaya. We just used keywords like “Taytay Village”, “Duero”, “Eskaya”. We were lucky that someone understood that we were looking for someone to bring us there and knew someone who is familiar with the place. 🙂

      I hope this helps! Are you planning to go there soon? Let me know how it goes. And, safe travels to you!

      Cheers,
      Monica

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