Loving Tawi-Tawi under sea and the Badjao beauties PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 12:38

Straddling peacefully between Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea in the southwestern Philippines, Tawi-Tawi has hundreds of beautiful tropical islands and islets with unspoiled white-sandy beaches and serene landscapes. It can be one of the world's best tourism destinations someday. Because of 2014 Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Awardee Dr. Filemon Romero, a Consultant at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Philippines and Professor of Oceanography and Environmental Science at Mindanao State University (MSU) Tawi-Tawi, I am updated with what’s happening there and edging to visit this exotic province again. I went there more than a decade ago as a medical representative and covered only Bongao (Tawi-Tawi capital).

Here’s my new Tawi-Tawi discovery I got from the Facebook account of Dr. Romero. Last May 29, he was the Chairman of the Board of Judges for the Pagpeneh Budjang South Ubian 2014 at Tabawan (one of Tawi-Tawi’s remote islands). What caught my attention is the crowning of the beauties of the Tabawan Badjao women. They are beautiful. Although Dr. Romero agreed that "showing of their upper flesh” seems to be contrary to the teaching of Islam, the purpose of the event was to showcase the overall personality and beauty of Sama Womanhood. It was more of a cultural parade of the Badjao costume, sablay and batawi attires and display of talents, he wrote. It gave the contestants an opportunity to show their artistic abilities in dancing the Pangalay or the Igal and to play native instruments. And the last minor part, the evening gown competition,  was a show how a Sama woman can carry herself in a formal attire.

Tabawan has also a sea specie known locally as Langgal, enshrined in our old P1,000 peso bill. Scientifically named “Theutidrolus Samae,” it is a squidworm, a new specie found only in the deep waters of South Ubian and no other part of the world. It is published in the internationally peer reviewed journal, the Biology of Letters.

Together with his family, Dr. Romero has been living in Bongao for years peacefully and harmony with the locals of different culture and traditions. Aside from spearheading the protection and revival of Tawi-Tawi corals, he shared that MSU has a sea farm that cultivates mother of pearls. 

Congrats Dr. Romero to your Gawad Bayani award!


By Dante Corteza

Job 12:7-10 "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (NIV)