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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Badjao carolers

It has been a few days since Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has issued a statement that they will round up all street carolers and bring them to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), however, I haven’t seen any of their men along Recto area. There are so many carolers along that route in the morning particularly before reaching Abad Santos St. taking advantage of the heavy traffic there this season so that they could carol to more public vehicles.

Actually there are only few kids singing Christmas carols while begging for money. These are the kids that used to climb a jeepney wipe the shoes of the passengers then ask for money. There are more Badjaos that beg now. It used to be that they would just ask for money but now they go in group – by twos sometimes more. A young girl (sometimes a teenager) would get inside inside the jeepney while a boy with his improvised drums made of cans or big tube pipes would sit at the jeepney’s opening and beat the drum to a rhythm while singing something you can’t really understand. You’re not sure if he is just making it up or if it is really a Badjao song. The girl inside would be dancing, her legs bent if she is tall and standing if she’s a small kid. Here’s a video I found of two young Badjaos one playing his crude drum the other dancing (unfortunately the boy is not singing):

They look like they are exploited right?
There’s so many of them along that route nowadays. You know it is not just ordinary poor people begging but a syndicate involved not just because of their numbers but by their operation. One time, one even handed out a leaflet when she got in the jeepney. I read the leaflet and it begs for money for a certain person so that he could go home to Basilan. The leaflet is similar to the leaflet being handed out by so-called volunteers of a religious group that solicits for their church charity. They follow also the same pattern of giving the leaflet to the commuters then performing then asking for money then getting the leaflet back before getting of the vehicle.

I seldom give to these people knowing they belong to a syndicate. However, sometimes I am fascinated by the performance or the performer and I would give something. One time, I saw a girl that danced really well. She was dirty and dark and messy but behind those I actually saw a pretty face and she was graceful. Today, while some kids were performing in our ride I got struck again by the drummer in another jeepney. There were other kids that were watching him while he played his drums. He drummed a different beat, there was a different force to it and I could feel the vibration in my chest. I wished he was the one performing in our jeepney and I would have given something. The jeepneys were not moving so I got to watch him, their group didn’t stay long though because they transferred to a jeepney that was farther.

I was in awe then wondered what would happen to these kids. I thought about their talents and I felt sad. Would they be doing the same thing all their lives? What happens when they are older?

And now with the MMDA’s move, will something good happen for these people?
I doubt… yet I wish deeply that something good does happen for them.
Yes, I pray that something good happens!


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