The Calamian Tagbanua are the modern descendents of some of the oldest native people in the Philippines. A group of indigenous people living in the Calamian group of islands of the Philippine archipelago, the Tagbanuan have adopted a sea oriented way of life.
In 2003, Coron Island and its surrounding waters were declared an ancestral domain for the Tagbanua, and they now restrict areas that non-indigenous people can visit on the island.
Last year, as part of a long-term documentary, I was given access to see and photograph some of the more remote communities of the Tagbanua. Taking underwater images was essential to show the daily life and common activities of the communities I visited.
Coron Island is only a short distance away from Coron town, a popular jumping off point for divers wanting to see a number of WWII Japanese shipwrecks. Visitors wanting to see Coron Island can visit a number of different lakes there with the entrance fees going to the Tagbanua.
Although the Calamian Tagbanua people live in what most people would consider an island paradise they still face many struggles. There is no fresh water on the island and the lack of soil makes it difficult to plant crops of any kind. They have truly adapted to a sea-oriented way of life and rely on the ocean for most of their resources.
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