Who are the Badjaos?
The Badjaos are a Filipino Muslim ethnic sea gypsies and group of boat dwellers people. They originated from Zamboanga, Basilan, Jolo provinces, Tawitawi in the Sulu Archipelago in Mindanao, Philippines. They are called Samal Luwaan (outcast) or Samal Laud (people of the ocean) and whose religion is ancestor worship mixed with Islamic influences.
The Badjaos are an oppressed tribe. They are referred to as Palao or Lumaan (God forsaken) by the Tausugs. They are the poorest ethnic group in Sulu depending only on fishing with arrow and diving coins tossed by ship passengers at the port, exchanging corals, sea shells or pearl for any food or money for their daily food and survival. They have no permanent dwellings and live on their boats throughout the year but in some places the Badjaos have built their own houses.
Before The Transformation
Before their transformation, the Badjaos has no proper waste and garbage disposal, no toilets, human waste scattered all over the island where they were staying. The children were very malnourished. Every week, children died of severe diarrhea, infections and malnutrition. They became beggars in every street, piers, public markets; they became thieves, very sickly and very skinny, dirty and extremely smelly of foul odor. They became an ill and hated by society around them or the every place they go.
In spite of their deep poverty and hunger, they are trustworthy people. Nobody dares to attempt or put up a school or even put consistently a literacy program that will improve their their health, sanitation situation, cleanliness and proper way of living. But GOD is not a respecter of person.
On December 14, 1999, an independent missionary couple was sent by GOD to live and minister to this outcast Muslim tribe. Pastor Albert Santiago handles the community development, livelihood, literacy, cleanliness, sanitation and peace and order. His wife, Ellen, ministers to the the medical needs of the community, clothing, health and care of mothers and children, especially the malnourished children. They both seek the help and assistance of their Christian friends for medicine, clothing, food and vitamins. They invited Christian doctors, nurses, dentists, nutritionists and many spent their own money to support the extreme needs of the impoverished Badjao community.
Pastor Albert and Sis. Ellen have lived with the tribe for almost 12 years loving, caring, helping, teaching, educating, assisting in every need of the Badjao community. Many times their lives and health were put in dangers of sickness, disease, death threats, accidents, culture shocks, depressions and discouragements. In spite of these trials, suffering and adversities, they did not give up but strongly continued the calling the LORD for them to minister to the Badjao community.
PRAISE GOD and glory to HIM, the lives of the Badjao began to change physically, emotionally, intellectually and most of all, spiritually.
The Badjao Transformation – “Pray Until Something Happens”
December 8, 2001 6:00 P.M. the Lord Jesus Christ visited this tribe of salvation, angelic visitations, miracles and signs and wonders to the 220 children ages 4-10 years old. They begun an every night prayer meeting from 6:00 P.M. to 11:30 P.M. even without electricity worshiping and singing praises to the LORD, praying very loudly to GOD, reciting 30 Bible verses. The amazing miracle is that these children had not yet started studying because the new school which will have yet to be opened will start in the following June 17, 2002. GOD performed many miracles through the Badjao children. People were healed physically and spiritually when they sang praises to the LORD and by laying their hands. These children became the bridges of GOD to their unbelieving parents and relatives. They came to the Lord Jesus Christ as their LORD and SAVIOR and a born again Badjao church was born. Revival spread out and was heard as far as the northern region, the southern region, metro manila, central Luzon and to many churches in Batangas City, and as far as Taiwan, Australia, United States, different Bible schools and seminaries, mission organizations, other religious denominations and even Catholics, pastors, Christian workers and missionaries have heard about it. They came to the Badjao island and to our present location now to see and witness the HOLY SPIRIT revival and transformation that took place in Badjao island.
The Born Again Badjao Now
The Holy Spirit revival and transformation has done tremendous changes and power in the lives of the Badjaos. Their lives began a totally uplifted changes physically, emotionally, intellectually and most of all, spiritually. They are no longer malnourished, sickly, no longer beggars and thieves in the streets, no longer ills of the society, no longer illiterate and no longer sickly and mentally retarded. There are now water wells, school, church and all the children are studying in our school free of all needs and tuition fees. The feeding of nutritious food continues through the help and assistance of other Christians. All Badjao children are now registered in the civil registry and the adults in voters registration (they all took Christian names!). Each Badjao house has their own toilet, garden and cleanliness is highly observed. The community is now peaceful and free of vices. They now live in honesty, cleanliness, good heart, fear of the Lord, hunger for God’s Word, prayers and worship. They became giver and charitable in spite of being poor and they love to stay always in the presence of the Lord. They are now “addicted” to praise and worship and prayer meetings. They are not happy without these church meetings. And the light and hopes of new life and beginnings started on that night of December 8, 2001 at 6:00 P.M. in the evening when the Lord made His divine visitations. TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY AND PRAISES.
The news about the revival spread out as far as the northern and southern region of the Philippines, to Metro Manila, Central Luzon and different part of Batangas among different churches. The news also went up to Taiwan, Australia, United States and visitors from different Bible schools, seminaries and mission organizations, workers and leaders from different denominations came and visited our new Badjao community to see and witness the revival brought by the Holy Spirit.