A couple’s journey with Davao City’s Badjaos

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Here’s a story about a couple’s amazing dedication to help the Badjaos in Davao City

Pastor Jun and Daisy: Can you help them build a dream school for the Badjaos in Kanaan?

Pastor Jun and Daisy: Can you help them build a dream school for the Badjaos in Kanaan?

MANILA, Philippines – “Is that all there is to it?” asks Pastor Felicisimo “Jun” Morales, 59, to himself.

An old Badjao beggar named Johari that he met in 1990 changed his life. Pastor Jun said this was his first reaction – pity, which led his family to give him food, clothes and basic things he needed.

But another question popped on his head with nagging frequency –“That’s all?”

What he did next, along with wife Daisy, 54, was an amazing journey of courage for this often-disparaged ethnic minority.

Reliving the 8 years they have spent in Kanaan.

Reliving the 8 years they have spent in Kanaan.

A couple’s journey

They lived with them for 8 years in Kanaan (Erratum on original story: Kanaan not Isla Verde), located near Davao City, to help understand their culture and find ways to help them.

“We came without conditions. We just lived with them, built our own house among their shanties and tried to do what they do daily,” Daisy says with a smile of the memory.

She says: “People might have thought we were crazy giving up the comfort of our home. But back then it was not. The coastline was pristine and the sea breeze was refreshing. There was no way we can help them without fully understanding what their culture is.”

Said to be mostly from Sulu, the Badjaos are known as sea gypsies – their lives depended mostly from the sea’s fishing resources. But with the growth of commercial fishing, many of them went out of work and resorted to peddling and begging in the city’s streets. There are over 500 of them in this area alone.

Day-to-day challenges

Daisy recalled that with the epidemic of head lice going around, she got busy helping the women remove them from children’s unkempt hair and learned to use an improvised comb for sweeping the parasites.

CHALLENGES. Daisy taught the Badjao community basics on hygiene

Daisy taught the Badjao community basics on hygiene

“We lived, ate, shared stories and shown our sincerity to be with them. Over time, we have won their trust and respect, which are the most important of all,” Pastor Jun adds.

Food was always a challenge in the community. The Badjaos prefer fish paired with grated cassava, and are the main staple. Rice is hardly affordable.

Pastor Jun and Daisy set-up free clinics with the help of friends, and assisted the families in sending their children to a nearby public school.

“Helping them intermingle with the bigger community was a challenge. Most of the time they were avoided and considered different,” Daisy recalls.

Keep reading in Rappler.

To help, please email Daisy Morales at daisyhmorales@yahoo.com.ph or send us a message here in istoryya.

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