Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Beggars of the Sea



I’ve been meaning to post these photos for quite awhile now. I felt like I didn’t have the words to go with the photos just yet, so I deferred it for a while. But it had only been now that I was able to muster the words to truly express how I felt about the experience I’ve had with the Badjaos in Cagayan de Oro. I’d really want to share this to everyone, so let me take you back to when I first stepped foot on Cagayan de Oro.

On a tuesday morning, aboard the Cebu Ferries Ship, Tina and I witnessed a heart-wrenching sight. Amidst the towering ships parked along the port of Cagayan de Oro, are the Badjaos on their outriggers patiently rowing back and forth at the side of our ship begging for money or for anything you could give them. At first, it was just a lonesome outrigger with three adult men and two younger men on it. It seemed to me that they were just fishermen who happened to be fishing near the ship. But a few moments after, a flock of them appeared to our sight. There were no fishnets or whatsoever to indicate that they were fishermen. It was then that I realised that they were not fishermen but beggars. It was deafening to hear them beg. I couldn’t understand what they were saying as all I could hear were the mumbling and the crying of the mothers and the babies. It was heartbreaking to have heard the loud cries of the young kids and even babies that laid almost naked on the outrigger with the sun’s glare on their fragile bodies, while their mother or father dove into the ocean each time a coin was thrown at them. The expressions on the other children’s faces were blank, as they don’t seem to fathom what was happening around them. The 'crowd’s favourite' was the father who had his baby cling tightly on his neck while he dove into the sea. I felt scared for the baby as he could easily loose his grip on his father’s neck while underwater. I was saddened to see other passengers of the ship treat them like they were in some freak show. The passengers purposely had thrown coins aimlessly so the Badjaos have to jump out from their outriggers and dive into the ocean. They laughed and applauded each time the Badjaos get to catch the coins. I gave out a big sigh each time I heard the cheers of the passengers. I hoped that they would realise how dangerous it could be especially for the children. It was inappropriate, I felt. It was not even a laughing matter. It was totally degrading. It was like being in a zoo, people throwing food at animals.











Up to this day, I can’t believe what I have witnessed. I realised what extreme poverty can do to people in order to survive. These people chose to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones for a few coins. I could not bear to just stand there and do nothing. So while on the way out of the ship, I grabbed my bag full of snacks and threw it directly in one of the outriggers. It’s the least thing that I could do at the very moment.

I don’t even know if these images I took can encompass what I have witnessed that day, but think of it as merely representations of what was there that had affected me deeply.

4 comments:

Water Learner said...

Hi,

Nice pictures! A good travel blog!
I will surely drop by often!

WaterLearner (Singapore)

ruccielle said...

Gosh rills...i also really felt bad after reading your blog about the badjaos...i know how it feels 'coz i also witness almost the same incident the difference lang is that sa streets ko naman nakita yung mga babies pa lang na puro grasa na and sugat since their parents can't afford to take good care of them..my heart really exploded when i saw these kids...=(

ruccielle said...

Gosh rills...i also felt really bad after reading this blog...i really can't imagine how can these parents risk the lives of their children..eh ako nga, makagat lang ng lamok si josh eh inis na ko eh...i can relate to you rills 'coz i also witness almost the same incident the difference lang is sa streets naman ng baclaran ko nakita yung mga babies na puro grasa and sugat since their parents maybe can't afford to take care of them or doesn't really care at all...=(

dodongflores said...

I sympathize with you. We have the same feeling everytime I encountered such kind of people begging and risking their lives for a few amount of coins.
As for the photographs, you capture the scene very well and the black and white conversion sets the mode...
May those people who would come to stumble this blog entry can be enlighten what is it in our Badjao brethren and instead of treating as animals in the zoo, would come to realize they are also humans like us and deserves the same thing that we needed in our daily lives...
This is for now and good luck to your future travels...