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    2 Sep 2015

    Fascinating pictures show how Filipino islanders blend ancient tradition with the modern world (31 Pics)

    Water babies: The Tagbanua people are descendants of some of the oldest people in the Philippines. It's likely they came from Borneo


    The Calamian Tagbanua (those living on Coron Island and on mainland Coron/Busuanga and surrounding islands) have adopted a sea oriented way of life, living off the ocean and its resources


    Today there are various subgroups of the Tagbanua throughout the province of Palawan. In Coron, the Tagbanua are distinct from the Tagbanua on mainland Palawan, not only in their language but also their general way of life


    Despite economic and social challenges these tribes are some of the most hospitable and friendliest people photographer Maentz had ever come across. Pictured are a father and son who were having fun on their floating balsa after harvesting seaweed beneath the ocean’s surface


    Using floating balsas and wearing goggles to see underwater, the men lure octopuses from the depths before hooking them on to a jig to capture them


    A lot of the seafood caught is packaged and sent off to Coron town where it will be sent to Manila or other cities. Pictured is a Tagbanua man cleaning his shark catch


    A makeshift path connecting two homes in the Tagbanua community. As the terrain of Coron Island is mostly tall limestone karst rock, building paths is often somewhat of a challenge


    It is likely the Tagbanua originated from Borneo, but now there are several tribes that exist on mainland Palawan or on Coron Island and the surroundings lands


    After gaining their trust Maentz was allowed to accompany some Tagbanua fishermen heading out on their early morning harvest


    From gathering seaweed and sea cucumbers, to spearfishing, net fishing and octopus fishing, there is a role for all to play in the community


    Under the sea: This dramatic image shows one of the Tagbanua, dressed only in shorts, fishing on the sea floor with a spear


    The Tagbanua is one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines and have proved extremely efficient at using what the sea offers them. This picture is one of many that illustrates just how at home they are in the water


    In order to navigate around their watery landscape, bamboo rafts are used to transport good short distances, and wooden bridges are constructed over rocks


    The fishermen stay out in the ocean for most of the day and later sell their produce on mainland Coron. And as this picture shows, the end of the working day is a beautiful sight


    Many of the tribe's buildings are constructed with native materials, which are erected on the beach or sheltered on rocky cliffs and as there is no electricity, the tribe use kerosene lamps and fires after sunset


    This stunning picture shows one of the Tagbanua paddling his wooden boat in crystal clear waters, the rainforest rising up dramatically behind him 


    In the past, Maentz was told that the Tagbanua’s traditional dress was fashioned from the bark of trees — the menfolk wore simple loincloths, supported by a woven rattan waistband called ambalad, while the women wore only brief wraparound skirts made from bark after it had been washed and dried in the sun. Today, western clothes have found their way onto the islands and are now worn by all


    Photographer Jacob Maentz spent two weeks with the indigenous sea tribe capturing the beauty of their customs and shedding light on some of the issues facing them socially and economically


    The tribe are not well represented in society and they lack a lot of basic necessities such as access to health care and basic education. When available children will attend public schools or those set up by missionaries


    A man fishes out on his boat (left) and an octopus fishing jig (right) is shown, which is used to hook the creatures in the ocean



    Homemade goods: Using natural materials, a Tagbanua women weaves a mat for her home


    Tourism income: If boats anchor near a beach, visitors also have to pay a small fee to the family who own the land


    Remote location: Coron Island, the third-largest island in the Calamian Islands, is only accessible by boat


    Helping out: A young Tagbanua boy cooking octopus for his family on a fire stove 



    Getting stuck in: There is a role for everyone in the community, from collecting seaweed to fishing 


    Having fun: Tagbanua boys play in dresses as they prepare for a barangay talent night 


    Many of the buildings are constructed with native materials, which are erected on the beach or sheltered on rocky cliffs


    In 1998, Coron Island and its surrounding waters were declared an ancestral domain for the Tagbanua


    The tribe collect sea cucumbers (pictured) and dry them to be sold on the foreign market, which Maentz found would sell for the equivalent of $83 a kilo


    Luring tourists from all over the world, the picturesque Coron Island features stunning lakes such as Kayangan and the Twin Lagoons, but there are places on the island that are off limits to the public due to being sacred burial grounds for the Tagbanua
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