Seven in the morning and the ferry was about to dock at the Cebu Seaport – I was wondering why the people were flocking on the far side of the vessel. I asked my friends from California as to why and they simply shrugged their shoulders with no clue at all. I went to check and asked what was the commotion about and one guy with a white V-neck shirt pointed his finger to the little ships below… That was the first time I laid my eyes on the “Badjaos.”

sea gypsies

These are the sea gypsies of Cebu. Yes. Indigenous.

These cluster of unique people went to Cebu during the insurrection in Mindanao. It was in 1964. More have followed in the succeeding years, settling in the coastal village of Alaska, which is Cebu’’s biggest slum area.

Bajau, Bajaw, Bajao, Badjau, Badjaw, or Badjao (whatever pleases you) still continue to live their nomadic, seaborne lifestyle. They hop onto their small wooden boats to “make a living” and survive.

sea gypsies

Don’t miss the action!

I took a photo of them and I was astonished when the Badjao children jumped off their small boats, took a dive, and recovered a five peso coin thrown by the woman on my right! The Badjao mother spread her cloth and tried to catch all of the articles thrown by the tourists – coins, bottled water, cookies, biscuits, etc. It was amazing. One Badjao man did a swimming stunt and even dove down and caught the coin using his teeth! I was clapping with joy! 8)

sea gypsies

“Brothers” – the last ones remaining.

Looking at them I felt ambivalent. I pity them because they have nothing to do but to ask for alms, at the same time, I am happy for them because they are able to find ways to find money and to entertain. I hope when I get back to Cebu, I could talk to them personally! 🙂

cebu map