Fishing is the main source of livelihood of the Badjaos in Brgy. Malitam, Batangas City.
In this side of the city, a community started with only two families two decades ago. Now, there are more than 200 hundred families in the Badjao community in Barangays Malitam and Wawa, Batangas City. Badjao is a muslim ethnic group and considered as the sea gypsies of the Philippines. Most of them came from Mindanao and the southern islands of the Philippines.
The Badjao community is located on the mouth of Calumpang River towards Batangas Bay. Fishing is the main source of livelihood, however, some are already employed, particularly the newer generation of the Badjaos. With easier access to education, these newer generation of Badjaos are literate, unlike their parents. Due to inter-marriage with locals, some younger Badjaos already have different religions.
According to Gavino Oxillo, Barangay Councilor of Brgy. Malitam, education and livelihood are very important for the stability of the Badjao community. "Before, the community here enjoys a bountiful harvest of marine resources, but now its dwindling", Councilor Oxillo said. The Badjaos are now mostly harvesting small shellfish, small fishes and few crabs in nearby mangroves, Councillor Oxillo said. The Calumpang River mouth has widend due the onslaught of Typhoon Nina in December 2016. Some houses of the Badjaos were destroyed and they were forced to move further inland.
The dwindling shellfish catch is a big concern for the Badjaos.
The community is also beset with social problems, due to lack of jobs. "Petty crimes, family disputes, waste management and even teenage pregnancies are some of the issues that the barangay government is concerned" according to Barangay Councilor Raffy Gonda. However, he said the Badjaos are generally peaceful. "They cooperate very well, especially during calamities, they voluntarily evacuate especially during typhoons, because they know they are the first one to be affected if the sea waves become bigger", said Coun. Gonda.
Mr. Odilon Conti of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) of Batangas City said the Badjaos are already considered "Batangueños", despite being migrants from southern Philippines. "Mayor Beverly Dimacuha regularly visits the community and she is aware of their needs", Mr. Conti added. He also said Mayor Dimacuha prioritizes the education of the Badjao children.
The City ENRO has funded the documentation of the Batangas City State of Environment (SOE), in which SESAM, led by Mr. Thaddeus Lawas, University Research Associate II, is currently producing a documentary video which includes the plight of the Badjaos in Batangas City.
Access to education is important for the Badjao children, who are happilly playing along the shores of Calumpang River.
The Badjaos are known to sail hundreds of kilometers to look for a better life. However, opportunities are not always plenty. These people only desire daily food for their families, a safe community and a long-term place to stay thus avoiding constant relocation. Education will always be the equalizer, not just for their safety but also for the survival of their culture.