An Encounter with the Sea Gypsies (Badjao) of Surigao

Badjao Kids

While our ship is docking in Surigao Wharf, I noticed a small wooden vessel tailing our ship and I can tell that they are Badjaos. They are the ethnic group in the Philippines known for begging spare change to ferry passengers and and dive into the sea trying to recover the coin thrown by the boat passengers. A lot of us finds this scene an entertaining one. They're diving skills are really impressive but we cannot hide the fact that this activity are very dangerous and threatening, but these are their ways to feed their families and aching stomach.

I believe that these Badjaos has other talents apart from diving which they can use to their advantage. There is nothing wrong of diving for coins because it is legal and its a hard-earned money but being exposed to getting injured or die is a different story.

This ethnic group is common in Sulu, but nowadays, the Badjaos has reached farther destination not only in the provinces in Mindanao but also in Visayas like in Cebu.


  1. Yeah, I agree. I think I'd rather hand them the money than let them dive for it. They can dive their way to catch some sea creatures to eat but not the coin worth their life!


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