Dubbed as one of the most illiterate tribe in the Philippines, according to the pastor who housed them, the Badjaos had to leave their homes because they were mistreated and taken advantage of. Their houses and boats were burnt, which ceased their main source of livelihood -- fishing. Now they are found scattered all over the country with the same goal of searching for a place to call home. Lucky for the group of Badjaos we got to interact with, they got help from two individuals, Pastor Albert and Sister Ellen Santiago, who gave them a chance to start over. They found ways to give the Badjaos a new source of livelihood, they gave them capital and taught them to buy materials (i.e. fancy accessories, pearls, etc.) in Divisoria, and sell it in Batangas, sometimes even reaching Tarlac. This put an end to some of the Badjaos who reduce to begging or stealing in order to survive. The missionaries also ensured that the children were properly nourished and eating the right food, from their usual kamote and fish, they now get to eat rice with viands other than fish. I used to believe the color of their hair was because of seawater, the heat, or that it was dyed, but to my surprise, it's actually due to severe malnutrition. Now that they follow the right diet, the hair of the Badjaos are slowly turning black.
During our visit, all we ever did was interact with them (even with the language barrier) and gave them the simplest of food, but with our little gesture, we were able to make them happy. I guess that's why I want to go back to this community, because all I remember are the smiles from their faces and we didn't even do and spend so much. Hopefully soon, we get to gather funds and supplies to have something to give when we go back. :)