Culture of Badjao

One lifestyle, making use of small wooden sailing vessels.  Their village is in the southern Philippines, on a little stretch of beach on Sarangani Bay, which is just a few miles south of General Santos. Traditionally Badjao had no permanent dwellings and lived on their boats throughout the year.

        Badjao was displaced by wars and the death of their traditional fishing culture. Their homeland has been taken away from them and their culture is gradually slipping away. Amongst themselves, they’re known as Sama Laus (Sea Sama) and are found living on houseboats where they make their livelihood solely on the sea as expert fishermen, deep-sea divers, and navigators.

Mode of Dressing


       Regarding about their background on culture, beliefs and costume, many Badjao of the east coast retain their seaborne lifestyle, together with remnants of traditional pre-Islamic beliefs. Focusing on their mode of dressing the traditional attire of a Badjao is the “patadjong.” It has many uses. They are made large enough to fit any person and are used by both men and women as a skirt or gown tucked at the chest level. It can serve as head cover, waistband, sash, blanket, hammock, shoulder bag, cradle, pouch, hood, or pillow.The women’s “sablay” is a loosed sleeved blouse reaching down to the hips. A “simpay” (band) forms the front opening and extends to the back from a small collar. A woman’s typical accessories are jewelry and colored combs. The bracelet is the most popular ornament. Other pieces of jewelry are the pendant, earring, ring, necklace, and anklet.

     Badjao believes that they are descended from loyalty that is why they are a colorful, festive and musical people.  Also why they wear such richly colorful clothes, often made by hand from traditional dastar fabric. Brides and grooms wear even more colorful clothing at their wedding. The more highly regarded a woman is the more brightly and colorfully she will be dressed. She will also receive many water buffalo which, to the Bajau, is a special animal that usually forms part of any woman’s dowry. Arranged marriages are common. Marriage by kidnap and elopement are also still quite frequent.




        As Filipinos, we are all know for being talented and competitive that shows the true blood of a Pinoy. Dance or dancing is one of those talents that we have, where we can prove to the world that we can sway with every beat of life; fast or slow. Even the youngest or the eldest on us can move with music; even the richest or the poorest can move along in every single beat. And we are all proud of having different dances even in indigenous places.

Just like other ethnic groups have, Badjao tribe from Zambales also have their own cultural and traditional dance. And as I am reading some articles about them, I’ve discovered that ‘Igal or Pangalay or Janggay’ is the dance they’d adopted from the Samal group of Sulu. This dance was usually and commonly performed by female Badjao. The dancers should bunned their hair though sometimes accepted to be hang loose. And to add twist to the traditional Pangalay they use ‘janggay’ and wear to their hands to enhance and magnify the dancers’ hands while dancing this traditional dance of them. ‘Janggay’ is a metal fingernails or claws; this was used as an extension of their fingernails to give emphasis to the movement of the hands of the dancers. This was accompanied by drums or gabbang played by male Badjao.

This traditional dance of them shows their confidence that even the indigenous group of people can be known for their talents and competitiveness.



     Language is somewhat a necessity of mankind. It serves as an identification of people on where they belongs to. It is a system of conventional spoken, manual or written symbols by means of which human beings, as members of social group and participant in its culture express themselves.

Of the more than a hundred languages being spoken by the different ethnolinguistic groups of dwellers in the more than seven thousand and one hundred islands comprising the Philippines, I’ve focuses and pay for attention to the Badjao’s language because of curiousity.

Sinama is the language of Badjao that is being used on their way of communication. The Sinama has a seven classifications based on their mutual intelligibility. The seven Sinama languages are Northern Sinama, Central Sinama, Southern Sinama, Sinama Pangutaran, Mapun Badjao West Coast of Sabah and Badjao Indonesia. These classifications are rarely recognized by Sama themselves who instead classify their Sinama by the village or island it originates from.

Superstitious Beliefs

     Badjao or Sea Gypsies have strange beliefs. Believes indigenous Badjao recognition of their master and having wisdom is the most beautiful way to having a good life.They also believe that where the spirits of the dead are kept in a grave and every period of Shaaban, the soul is allowed their master to come back to our world. They also believe that the dead can communicate with the living through the ritual ceremonies of celebration, worship, and exorcism. As a welcome, people were cleaning graves and conduct prayers. A ritual allegedly accepting tribe, the Badjao throwing newborn in the deep-sea and re-ascent of the older men in the baby.


        Badjao are widely known as the “Sea Gypsies” of the Sulu and Celebes seas, the Badjao are scattered along the coastal areas of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, and Coastal municipalities of Zamboanga del Sur in the ARRM. Thay are found living on houseboats where they make their livelihood solely on the sea as expert fishermen, deep-sea drivers and navigators. Unique to their cultural rituals is the concept of life and their relationship to the sea. A newly born infant is thrown into the sea and members of the clan dive to save the newborn. Orher traditions such as marriages are prearranged by the parents for their sons and daughters , the process similar to other ethnic groups. In that, a dowry is often presented to the parents of the woman a man wishes to marry. And only the Badjao leader can consecrate a marriage. Therefore a leader is chosen based on individual inherent virtues, wisdom and “charisma” and male ability to attract followers.

     Due to the ongoing conflict in the region between revolutionary muslim groups and the government, many Badjao have migrated to Sabah in Malaysia , Sulawesi and kalimantan in Indonesia. As a result , they now comprise the second largest ethnic group in Sabah, despite the fact that many of them are illegal immigrants. There, the badjao speak nearly ten languages of the Sama-Bajau subgroup of the western Malayo-polynesian language family.

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