Friday, July 12, 2013
Feature: Badjaws in our midst
There were Benito, a tall and lean boy, Purita, a petite girl, Alibangsa, with set of well filed white teeth and others I can no longer remember their names. They were my classmates in school, my friends. They were scholars of the School Director then Fr. Henry Lavalee, OMI (RIP) and they were Badjaos!
In those years during elementary (1979-1985), Badjao pupils and students were common sightings in school. They played with us, conversed with us, they were ordinary students who were part of our daily encounter, a part of our society. They participated in field demonstrations/ kalesthenics during Notre Dame Day celebrations. In fact I had a picture (grade 5) where one of my Badjao classmates was right behind me dancing just like the rest of us. Unfortunately they did not finish their secondary schooling. They simply vanished without a trace while some of them settled down. I do still meet them once in a while.
Few years back when I was still working as a staff nurse at Holy Family Hospital, I came across with Alibangsa. We had a short chit-chat and later she told me she had named one of her daughters after me. Yes she had a daughter named Christine. A manifestation that the friendship we had was genuine and not a charade.
With the changing of time, today there seem to be no more Badjao Pupils/students enrolled in Notre Dame. But here at Luuk Bangka ES where they composed majority of the population. This is their school within their own community. The teachers and school nurse must have a compassionate heart to teach them and lead them to a new future. Knowing that this group of people has a culture of their own, it needs a lot of perseverance, understanding and love in order to get across with them.
The question now is: How far will this new generation of Badjao pupils/students continue their education? Will education change their views of life? Because as I observed they live a very simple life with simple wants; they have a house built originally by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) of the Apostolic Vicariate of Sulu-Tawi-Tawi exclusively as a low -cost housing project for them. Beyang ( referring to a lady friend) and Sehe ( a man) earn a penny through selling fresh fish and sea shells around the neighborhood to buy a meal of cassava/rice and viand for the day satisfy them plus a game of volleyball in the late afternoon, voila they survived and seemed to be happy. They do not crave for more. They have their pride and strive for their own living. However, with the changing of time, some Badjao kids are asking for alms at the downtown are, in malls/department stores mimicking those at the urban areas which is not a practice before.
Will there be a teacher or a nurse coming from their ranks in the future to add to the likes of Teksan ( a Badjao who finished College at MSU TCTO Bongao assisted by the OMI and now a DepEd employee)? That is for us to hope. After all these Badjaos are equally the same with us.They are Filipinos who have the rights and privileges akin to us as citizens of this republic. Like all the other marginalized sectors or communities, they too deserve the love and respect of the government and of the people. (Tinsangkula/DepEd Tawi-Tawi).
"Matuwid na pamamahala tungo sa ARMM sa masagana't mapayapa"
English - "Good governance for a progressive and peaceful ARMM."
Sinama - "Hap pamarinta tudju ARMM na sambu maka salamat"
Bahasa Sug - "Dan mabuntul tudju pa ARMM masambu iban mahatul"
Meranaw - "Mathitu a kandatu sa ARMM ko katagompiya go kalilintad"