Badjao in the City

Tagged as "Gypsies of the Sulu and Celebes Seas", the Sama Dilaut, commonly known as badjao have now invaded the city streets in search for a better life.

Poverty and inadequate attention of the government for the minority group are sighted as the major reason.

Cagayan de Oro (CdO) is one of the many urban sites that have become the new home for the opportunity seeking badjao. Agora Tabacoan, located in between of the Agora Market and of the modern shores of the city became their refuge. With its location, the site is a perfect niche to the new city comers.

The city streets became the life support for many city badjaos. The young, with their pipe drums sings with their nomadic tongue in exchange for some peso. The women, often seen on the streets carrying their child, reaches their hand to the commuters when the traffic light hits red. Men are rarely seen on the streets.

Digna, a badjao of Zamboanga inheritance  moved to CdO some years ago with her family. Poverty had caused them to leave their old ways and to live a life that was once stranger to them.

Many says that they are sluggish but they are not. As Sea Gypsies, they had established their name and built a reputation. Life in the urban streets may be new to them but this doesn't them in believing for a better life.


  1. Cebu has the same case. As far as I know, there were several programs implemented by CSWD and the city government. i am not just sure if the programs are inadequate, not fully implemented or the Badjao themselves don't believe on the program because they already feel comfortable with what they have now.

  2. [...] perspective with Badjaos had changed long ago when I wrote Badjao in the City. I had a chance to talked to one of them and went to their new “niche” in the city. The [...]

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  4. Same scenario in Metro Manila. Several minorities brave the streets of Manila especially during holiday seasons. Teenagers and children ride jeepneys with their drums while singing vernacular songs or doing some funny antics. I don't think they realize how dangerous the city is.

    P.S - So this is how you started...five years ago! I am so impressed at how your style of writing has improved and how your views have matured and become more socially relevant.

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