The playful Badjao kids of Zamboanga will jump overboard and retrieve the coins you throw at sea with remarkable agility and ease in a matter of seconds, earning the nickname “sea gypsies” for a reason.
“But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” ~ William Butler Yeats
This Badjao baby caught my eye as I walked carefully on wooden planks stretched across the waters within a cluster of houses built tightly and interconnected by footpaths. The family welcomed me into their community, even though I was a stranger in their eyes, just passing by to document their unique way of life. I took note of their smiling faces, houses on stilts, and their floating boats as vehicles.
An island province in the southwestern tip of the Philippines, Tawi-Tawi is home to the Badjaos, indigenous ethnic groups referred to as “sea gypsies” who inhabit the shores and waters of the Sulu archipelago.