While working on the renovation of the Tandu Dagmay PrimarySchool in Patikul, Sulu, I was told Badjaos don’t normally go to school because they are being bullied by the Tausugs.
Then, one of the classrooms in that primary school is vacant in the afternoons, and so I asked if we can hold classes especially for the badjaos after mid day. Through some support from friends, we can probably fund a teacher’s salary to conduct a class for these kids. The captain escorted me instead to a standalone room about 300 meters away.
He told me that in case I’d like to hold classes for the Badjaos, I can do it here. Thing is, the size is too small to even conveniently hold a class for a size of 10 kids.
I didn’t understand why such a response when they can comfortably have classes in a room that is not used anyway. I am betting it has something to do with the discrimination over the badjaos again, so much that they don’t want anything they have being used by badjaos as well.
Meantime, with the offer from the captain, I thought I can still somehow make use of the structure. We can probably turn it into a self-guided learning resource center with books, especially comics, art materials, such as paints, brushes, pencils, papers, and games.
The badjaos are quite inclined into arts. Weaving and dances being the ones they have been popular for. We’d like to give them materials to rear their artistry, and train themselves further into craftmanship.
In fact, one time, I spotted some kids playing with cute miniature copies of the badjao boats. I later spoke to the guy who made it and he said he made it from scrap materials he picked up around (especially in SULU where proper garbage disposal and recycling are concepts never thought off).
As it seemed to have been a common pastime of their elders, children would be gambling from the very morning until evening.
Rather than leaving rearing this habit, we can provide easy educational board games to keep them entertained and learning at the same time.
Meantime, this May, we will be distributing school suppliesto Primary Schools and we would like to start fixing this Badjao Learning Resource Center. I have requested my friend Mai to look after the project.
If you have anything spare at home (books, especially comics, art materials, such as paints, brushes, pencils, papers, and games; I prefer used to that we have to go away from the habit of buying and buying; If a used one is good enough, then it is good enough) which you think would be instrumental to the development of the badjao kids, please let me know.