Maporac Ayta Community and Herbanext Laboratories, Inc. at the Forefront of Pioneering Access and Benefit Sharing in the Philippines

October 3, 2023

Key stakeholders of the ABS Project, including (L-R second row) DENR-FASPS, UNDP, DENR-Region III, DENR-BMB, and NCIP (R first row), bear witness to the MOA signing between Herbanext Laboratories, Inc. and MAO-CADT Inc. in Bacolod City. Photo by ABS Project

Orange Omengan/UNDP Philippines


In the heart of Cabangan, Zambales, the majestic banaba tree, Lagerstroemia speciosa, stands tall - its lineage tracing back to ancient narratives. Historically celebrated amongst the Ayta community for its medicinal attributes, this tree now exemplifies a harmonious fusion of indigenous wisdom with cutting-edge scientific research. 


Last August, in Bacolod City, a significant stride was taken. The Ayta community from Sitio Maporac, Barangay New San Juan, Cabangan, Zambales, in collaboration with Herbanext Laboratories, Inc., a prominent figure in the realm of Philippine botanical research and development, embarked on an innovative partnership. This collaboration centers on the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the utilization of banaba as a genetic resource. 

This collaboration marks the Philippines’ first Access and Benefit Sharing initiative under the Nagoya Protocol facilitated by the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Project. 

Supported by the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Project, this agreement seeks to provide economic opportunities to indigenous communities in the country. Spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Philippines with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project emphasizes the critical role of indigenous peoples in biodiversity conservation and the promotion of sustainable practices. 

The involvement of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Region III, in accordance to Section 24 of the 2012 revised Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) guidelines, has been pivotal to this agreement.

During the August 2023 community consultations, the Maporac Ayta Organization (MAO) CADT Inc., provided consent to access their genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge through a community resolution. This decision honors their customary laws in compliance with Section 35 of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).

Leading this initiative are two distinguished individuals: Chieftain Salvador Dimain from MAO-CADT Inc., and the forward-thinking Mr. Paul Felipe Cruz, president of Herbanext Laboratories, Inc. 


Guided and endorsed by the NCIP of Region III, this agreement facilitates Herbanext Laboratories' basic research on the banaba trees within the Maporac Ayta Organization’s ancestral lands. In return, the Ayta community is poised to adopt complementary production and contemporary semi-processing practices and advocate for the sustainability of banaba. 

Blending time-honored practices with contemporary techniques offers a hopeful future for the Ayta community. Salvador Dimain expresses his gratitude for this collaboration, emphasizing its potential to uplift their community, particularly if their specific banaba variety showcases a significant level of phytochemical content. 

This partnership stands not as a historical footnote but as an inspiration. It invites stakeholders and industry leaders to cultivate the Philippines’ emerging bio-industry, incentivize biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and realize fair and equitable benefit-sharing with indigenous peoples and local communities. Within this blend of age-old customs and modern enterprise lies a vision for a sustainable future. [E]



The Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Project, also known as the Implementing the National Framework on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge in the Philippines, is implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines as the implementing agency, with funding support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).