By Maolen Oledan-Estomagulang, Davao Today Intern
DAVAO CITY – More than 500 Badjaos are expected to celebrate their annual Family Day on December 20 and 21 putting highlight on their traditional games.
During Monday’s Kapehan at the SM Annex, Felicisimo “Jun” Morales, a volunteer in the Badjao community, said that the Family day aims to “bring back the pride and to preserve the culture of the Badjaos.”
“I live with them in the community for eight years. And what I really wanted was to stop mendicancy,” Morales said.
The Badjaos, commonly known as the “sea gypsies”, live along coastal communities. Historically, their main source of living included fishing, boat building and deep sea diving.
“Aside from encouraging Badjaos to stop mendicancy, one of the goals of this family day is to gather both Badjao adults and youth in re-creating our traditional dance, practices and skills in connection to preserving our rich heritage,” he said.
According to Morales they started the activity in 1992, with only three families. About 170 families now join their annual activity.
This year’s Family Day will include competition on traditional dance, boat building and racing, wood goggles assembly, prayer mat weaving, and fish hunting.
There will be about 12 groups of Badjao communities, representing the coastal communities from Seaside to Matina Aplaya. There are also groups coming from Sta. Cruz, Davao Del Sur. The participants to the competition will be wearing their traditional attire of malong for women and sawal for men.
Morales said that there are around 2,000 families of Badjao in the city, many of whom are in Isla Verde.
The activity’s sponsor, City Councilor Leonardo Avila III said the proceeds from the Family Day will be used to complete the construction of the Badjao Multi-Purpose Building located at Seaside 2, Matina Aplaya.
“It will be used for their social and community rites,” he said.