Segments in this Video

Indigenousness of Palawan (00:60)


Batak's struggle to preserve their culture as their surrounding rainforest environment vanishes with the encroaching modern world.

Subsistence Hunter Gatherers (01:50)

Batak's forage the canopy and streams on their southern Philippines isle. The Batak population is numbered at approximately 600 persons.

Batak Knowledge (01:55)

The Bataks as ecosystem dwellers thrive on tubers, mollusks, eels and subsistence agriculture. The have an extensive understanding of their regions plants and animals.

Spiritual World (02:45)

Without outside materials the self sufficient Batak have little need for numerology (math) until modernity makes it necessary. Their protein is supplied by smaller animals, as wild boar is scarce.

Forest Spirits (02:11)

Bataks are careful to respect the rock and tree spirits who control the availability of rain forest resources. Illness and death occur when the animals of the rainforest are not respected.

Immigrant Settlers Cause Change (02:52)

Outside immigrants seeking land impact Batak culture. The Batak's value isolation and avoid newcomers. Their own traditional nomadic lifestyle causes them to lose valuable coastal settlements.

Batak Survival (01:54)

The Batak, higlanders, gather fish and shells from the a coast controlled by immigrants. To eat they trade, rice farm and hunt and gather.

Batak Displacement (03:12)

The remote living Batak are exploited by the coastal traders. The Batak transport the rainforests' wealth down to traders in return for rice and dried fish. Isolation makes life difficult.

Environmental Destruction (04:12)

The lucrative almaciga tree, for shellac, causes conflict between the Batak and Christianos (immigrants). Trees tapped prematurely die and the Panyeon spirit's reaction is felt by Chistianos.

Village Life and Ceremony (04:20)

The medicine man (Babalian) performs a lambay to restore the balance between honey collection and the spirit world. If respect is restored then the honey will once again be available.

Babilian Spirit Soars (02:32)

Disease is caused by spirits not germs. Forest deities enters the babilian (medicine man). A prayer to Diwata, a good spirit, insures that the honeycombs and health will be restored.

Prosperity in the Capitol City (02:02)

Puerto Princessa grows with prospering immigrants. Bataks, in traditional garb, participate in holiday cultural celebrations. Signs in the capitol urge rainforest conservation and preservation.

Cultural Change (02:22)

Eco-tourism replaces logging as a source of income on Palawan. The closeness of Batak's ancestral lands leads to Bataks' going both to school and Christian church.

Bataks As Conservationists (03:10)

Bataks and IUCN: The World Conservationist Union opposes large "slash and burn" agriculture. If the government gave control to the Batak the forest would be preserved and human rights would thrive.

Contact and Cultural Diffusion (02:45)

Batak's accept medicine for measles and tuberculosis. Life expectancy is a short and famine exists. The dying rainforest compels them to emerge in order to the save it from destruction.

Villages Organize (02:45)

The Batak Federation discusses the harvest, health issues and the marketing of forest products. They petition for land tenure and the right to harvest. Their rice paddies are configured to stop erosion.

Day Care Graduation (02:07)

Batak youth participate in the day care graduation ceremony. A mother explains that even though she is suspicious of lowlanders she supports her daughter's school attendance.

Forest Dwellers Threatened (03:28)

Inter-marriage and poverty threatens the 400 remaining Bataks. Soon the highlanders will lack a tribal identity and spirituality. Their sustainable forest practices keeps the forest intact.

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Batak: Ancient Spirits, Modern World

DVD Price: $149.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $224.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



This program featuring sociocultural anthropologist James Eder—author of On the Road to Tribal Extinction—travels to the island of Palawan in the Philippines archipelago to document the Batak tribe’s eco-friendly hunter/gatherer way of life. Repeatedly displaced by immigrants and increasingly driven to take part in the island’s growing cash economy, the tenacious Batak struggle to maintain their cultural and spiritual identity while attempting to adapt to the modern world. Can conservationists, who approve of their sustainable methods of harvesting, help to secure the tribe’s ancestral forest before it is all lost? Contains nudity. (50 minutes)

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL11180

ISBN: 978-1-4213-8368-2

Copyright date: ©2000

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Only available in USA and Canada.