The First Filipino Settlers


We want to educate, yes, but we want to do so in a manner that increases interest and a yearning to know more about the culture of the countries we feature. 

While researching about the Philippines, I learned something that completely blew my mind! Did you know that the first settlers in the Philippines were the Aeta (pronounced as “eye-ta”) people and they were black?!

Certainly there is no scarcity of evidence of the Great Human Migration—prehistoric humans left their homeland of Africa to colonize the world. So why was I so surprised to discover that the first settlers in the Philippines were black? I think it may have to do with the way we as humans process information – intellectually I know this and it makes sense, but as a regular, everyday person it felt like a discovery. I told a few of my friends who are well educated and globally aware adults and it was news to them as well. I wonder why that is…

The Aeta people are an indigenous people who live in the mountainous parts of Luzon, and they are considered the earliest inhabitants of the Philippines. They have dark to very dark brown-skin, small stature, curly to kinky afro-like textured hair with some having naturally lighter hair color, small nose, and dark brown eyes. They belong to a group of people called Australo-Melanesians; also included in this group are the Aborigines in Australia.

There are a few theories about the history of the Aeta people. Some suggest that they migrated to the Philippines using land bridges that linked the country to other parts of Asia, land bridges that disappeared over the centuries via evolution. Some studies show that they are descendants of “an initial dispersal out of Africa by early anatomically modern humans,” while others show that Australo-Melanesians may be genetically related to Native Americans.

Native Filippino children playing. (

I started to go down the rabbit hole with this research for sure! After all fact chasing, I was led to this conclusion that we all know, or should know—we are all connected and are more similar than we are different.

Our January Nest Box features the Philippines! The book we selected is based on Filipino mythology and it is so captivating. Because the Aeta people are known for their musical heritage, we have included a souvenir that celebrates that. You have to get the January Nest Box to find out what it is!

To learn more about the Aeta people of the Philippines check out some of these sources: