Relegated to remote reservations on the rugged slopes of Mt. Pinatuba, the Aetas, the original inhabitants of the Phillipines have battled lowland expansion, commercial logging, and increasing encroachment on their ancestral land. They are struggling to survive and to preserve their ancestral culture. The Last Refuge was conceptualized in collaboration with anthropologist Dr. Ruffino Tima. It traces the history of this endangered tribe. They were hunted down and killed as "uncivilized savages" by the Spanish colonizers who sought their eradication, and were exploited as slaves by their lowland Malay counterparts. Rare archival footage documents life on the reservation that the Americans created to provide a sanctuary for these "non-Christian" people. The Americans tapped their jungle skills as guerrilla fighters during World War II. The Last Refuge presents the only footage available of tribal life before Mt. Pinatubo's devastating volcanic eruption, and tracks the Aetas as they cope with the obliteration of this mountain sanctuary, their last refuge.
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