SQUARE POINT: The friendly gypsies PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 December 2011 13:39

BY Jack Edward Enriquez

Please treat us equally as a people, a part of the local community or the Filipino nation for that matter.

This is the swollen sentiment expressed dishearteningly by an educated leader of an organized group of Sama Badjaos here in Zamboanga City. In a TV news program, he was asked to comment on the presence of several Badjaos, mostly adult women, downtown begging in the streets.

The city government through the Office of the City Social Welfare is actually trying to rid the city of mendicants and beggars for they’re an eyesore to the tourists and visitors.

However, such task is so difficult to accomplish because these beggars cannot be kept inside the social center for a long time.

By a streak of chance, they would sneak out and back to the streets with open hands blocking the people’s way or seated beside the pedestrian lane begging as the people pass by.

Among the old mendicants, disabled beggars and malnourished street children, are the Badjaos usually with a sleepy baby in the arms rushing to the motorists by the traffic lights begging for money.

The Badjaos are one of the indigenous natives or lumads in Mindanao particularly here in the southern tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula. In our history, they are known as the sea gypsies for they are borne in vintas where they spend their lives gliding on the sea waters stormy or not. Some of them live in small shacks on stilts along the shorelines as those in Mariki and Malamawi, Isabela. The peace loving and law abiding Badjaos live by fishing and gathering shells, seaweeds and other edible marine lives. Some of the women are weaving nice mats using pandan leaves that they peddle at low price. Their lifestyle is so simple for they don’t have to get well-dressed roaming the seas except when they go astray in the city or poblacion during a Muslim celebration. They eat panggih or cassava with some grilled colored fishes.

The Badjaos are too shy to mingle with people not theirtribe especially the Christians as if they’re so sensitive of being ridiculed. But there’s more than good deep inside them and they can make nice friends worthy of remembering.

Our point of gratitude— these interesting accounts were gathered during some pleasant moments together with a known broadcaster who has been in media works for more than three decades. As a writer and a poet, he’s coming out the first and only Chavacano poetry book “Memorias En Poesia”, a collection of beautiful poems originally written in Chavacano by early next year.

This column will try to keep in touch with this prolific writer for more of his works that would hopefully raise the Chavacano to the prestigious pedestal in Philippine literature.