Zamboanga City – THE seafaring and nomadic Sama Badjaos unleashed their colorful costumes, unique dances and traditional music last November 25 in an effort to boost their cultural recognition in society.
The event, which was held at the city’s Plaza Pershing, was part of the third year celebration of the tribal association called the National Sama Badjao Movement. The celebration aimed to let the public see beyond the Badjaos’ negative image as beggars, illiterates and outcasts.
This ethnic minority has been known for excellent skills in underwater diving and fishing, and is often described as sea gypsies. But majority of them have remained poor and underprivileged. This has been due to the difficulties in pursuing their traditional livelihood due to increasing prices of the fishing paraphernalia. Their fishing grounds, too, have been depleted. Rampant piracy has also driven them away from the sea.
Modern lifestyles have prevented them from easily integrating in the social mainstream.
“This event is for the Sama Badjao to be recognized as human beings who are also inhabitants of our society. We should not be marginalized,” said Nulhamdu Cegales, president of the Sama Badjao association.
Cultural numbers were performed by natives of barangays of Arena Blanco, Taluksangay, Rio Hondo, Sinunuc, Sangali, and Mulu-Muluan. The famous “pangalay” dance was the main attraction of the event.
Another performance was of a group of drummers called “dabbana”.
Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) president Fr. Angel Calvo in his message during the program praised the efforts of the movement to raise public awareness of the social and economic plight of tribe. He said the Badjao culture is a valuable asset to the national heritage of the nation.
The Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace has also been helping the Badjaos with various development and humanitarian projects.