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Walking on Water March 9, 2008

Posted by Janjan in All, cebuano, I, Lawyer, maniniyot, Seriously now….
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In one of my previous picture posts, I talked about the symbolic significance of water in my life and how during times that I am stressed, troubled or in despair, I dream of being near bodies of water.

I am going through one of those times now.  A lot of times I think about how much simpler life was when I wasn’t an adult, where I didn’t have to deal with choices, responsibilities, relationships, or be worried about the state of the nation and the rising costs of basic commodities and goods.

Sometimes I find myself wanting a quiet and uncomplicated life, much like the subject of this series of pictures lead, the Badjao children.



How much simpler it is to be Badjao.  A lot of people look down on the Badjao, because it seems that they live a life spent begging.  It didn’t used to be like this.  My bestfriend Danny C. told me that the Badjao are really a peaceful tribe of indigenous people from the Southern parts of Mindanao who had spent a simple life of subsistence fishing.  They are a peaceful tribe, unused to conflict and warfare, getting along well with each other and always smiling.

It’s a pity that these Badjao have been displaced back in the 1970’s during the time of the political upheaval in Muslim Mindanao.  These poor non-violent people were forced out from their ancestral homelands by their more warlike neighbors, and in order to escape the massacres of that era, the Badjao were made to flee to various parts of the Philippines.

Unused to a life of toil and hardwork, it is now common for us to see the Badjao here in Cebu, in Cagayan de Oro, in Davao, and yes, even in the wharves of Tagbilaran, Bohol, where I took these shots.

Growing up in a family where I was raised to value the dignity of work, I had come to look down on the Badjao.  All you ever see them doing is beg, beg, beg.  They’re dirty, unmannered, and rude.  However, after I heard the story from Danny, I grew to see the Badjao in a different light.  These people have never known better because all their life, they had always known simplicity and living off the sea.  To force them to adapt to the complicated rules and values of the big city is asking too much of these simple people, who now adapt to it the best way they know how… through begging.



I am older now.  I have adapted to the city.  I have work that keeps me facing my laptop the whole day long.  My life has definitely become complicated, and sometimes, it is too complicated.  I’m always exposed to pressure and expectations and a lot of times, it takes everything I have in me just to keep up with my job.  Unused to running, I trip on my feet and land hard on my face.  To quote a toy figure that my other bestfriend Johndi gave me back in high school, “Getting older sucks.

And now, these times, I envy these Badjao children.  Instead of looking down on them, I envy their simple uncomplicated lives.  I envy their freedom, their ability to laugh at their hardships, the close bond that they have with the sea and with each other.  Yes, their lives are tough and it borders on day-to-day survival.  But then again, can we really say our lives are much better?  True, we have more resources and wealth than these little beggars, but in exchange for these, we are saddled with burdens such as taxes, responsibilities, and for us lawyers, an exacting code of professional ethics.



Tell me now, are our lives really any better than theirs?



We are still beggars, living off grace and looking to God to provide us with our daily bread, regardless of whether we are Badjao children, Philippine presidents, or struggling CPA-lawyer-photographers.  Each of our lives are hard on one way or the other, frought with hardships, sacrifice and tears.  As that song by REM goes, “Everybody hurts.

It is times like these that the Badjao children remind me that each and everytime a question of love, faith and hope arises with Jesus, it somehow always involved the water.



We see it when the apostles were trapped out at sea during the height of a mighty storm, and Peter called out to a soundly sleeping Jesus to save them.  “Oh ye of little faith,” Jesus said, as he brought the squall to subside and the boat back to safety.

We see it again when the apostles were out at sea and encountered Jesus walking on water.  Calling out to him, Peter got out and started walking on the waves towards Jesus.  But he looked at the tides, got scared and started to sink to the depths.  Again, calling out to Jesus, he came by and saved him.

Finally, I’m reminded of the time after the resurrection that Jesus told the apostles to cast their nets to the other side of the boat, and came back with a catch of fish overflowing to the brim.

We all experience the storms.  We all have questions of faith, and look within only to find ourselves sorely lacking.  And we cry out calling to the Lord for succour and He tells us, “Oh ye of little faith.”



Like the Badjao, we need to believe that despite all our troubles, tomorrow will be another day.  The sun will be shining and the tides will subside.  Like them, we are all beggars of faith, wholly dependent on our Father to get us through another long night.  And with this trust in Him, we lean back and smile.

The storms will not last forever.

It takes one step then another, holding Jesus’ hand, for us to find out to our disbelief, that yes, through the certainty of faith, we CAN walk on water.


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Comments»

1. Indigenous Peoples researcher - March 10, 2008

Great post, it is very hard for people to understand many indigenous people’s lifeways – that is often why they are displaced or assimilated. I think you did an eloquent job of showing us that other ways of life are equally enriching.

2. marvin aceron - March 15, 2008

great shots!

3. amelyn - October 30, 2008

I was inspired by your story and pictures. I was working with the badjao before for 6 months as social worker and I agree with you really they will teach about the simplicity of life especially the kids. Now, I wanted to go back to davao to research about badjao young women and to learn from them again for my thesis but more than that I wish our government can provide better services for them.


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