Our Community


Our Mission

To provide an alternative for the residents of our community to improve their quality of life while maintaining our customs, ancestral roots, and our native language, all directed towards the goal of contributing to the conservation and protection of the Yasuni National Park ecosystem.

Our Community

The community of Mandari Panga began in 1980 when a group of families led by Modesto Jordán Illanes Vargas (who died in 1997) and his wife, Mrs. Damiana Santamaría, decided to leave their home in the community of Canelos because of persecution by the Huaoarini, who had killed members of the community. They originally came from small communities in the Pastaza and Napo provinces, whose residents belonged to the Naporuna and Canelo ethnic groups who had called the banks of the Pastaza and the Napo rivers their home for thousands of years.

The group finally set up their new home on the left bank of the Tiputini river, just outside of the boundaries of what is now the Yasuni National Park, which was officially formed in 1989. All of the founders initially formed an association to administer their territory as common lands, but in 1989, some of the original members disagreed with this arrangement and left to form their own community.
The community of Mandari Panga, named for a native plant with leaves that extend across the ground, is the original settlement and still manages its lands communally. Since 1994 the community has had legal title to their land, but individuals are assigned an area to live, do not have rights to sell, and have restrictions as to what they can do with the land they live on.

The community is administered by a General Assembly, the highest authority to deal with issues of commune organization, development, improvements (construction and improvement of the communal house, communal dining room, education, mingas of cleaning of the neighborhood roads and Sports fields) and project management. All actions and decisions are approved by the general assembly. They meet every two months and extraordinary meetings can be called at other times.
Every year, during the last month of the year, new community directors are democratically elected. The council is made up of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, trustee and three members. Internally the council chooses representatives to manage the areas of health, education, environment, agriculture and tourism.
When adverse situations present themselves in the community (accidents and illnesses), members work to help one another, and the community maintains solid friendships with the neighboring communities of Pompeii, San Francisco Chikta, and the associations 12 of February, Mocache and Charapa.


The commune does not have a medical clinic, currently members of the community must go to Coca where they have access to free medical care provided by public hospitals.


90% of the population of the commune is of Kichwa descent, and still speak the native language. They follow the traditional customs of their ancestors, living from hunting and fishing and from the production of their farms where they cultivate products such as cassava, bananas, potatoes, papaya, corn, cocoa, guayusa and coffee principally for the consumption of their families. Chicha prepared from cassava (ancestral drink of the Amazonian kichwas) is prepared in the traditional manner. Every year on the anniversary of the founding of the commune, the women produce their best crafts and perform dances to the sounds of drums played by their husbands.


The members of the Mandari Panga community typically dedicate their time either to their work within the community such as tending to their small farms, or they leave the community, sometimes for several days, to work in nearby towns typically as day workers in construction or other areas.