Meet the Badjao Kids Who Beat the Odds to Become Champions
Great things start from small beginnings. MILO® has been supporting children in their journey to lifelong success through youth sports programs, regardless of their background or status in life. One of these sports programs is Aktibo Dabawenyo, an initiative of the Davao City Sports Office that aims to make sports programs accessible to grassroots communities through online and on-ground activities.
Aktibo Dabawenyo’s mission is to provide sports training to people in Davao, and MILO® shares in this mission by co-creating sports programs and providing sports equipment. Children from the Badjao tribe are among those who have been able to hone their athletic abilities through the said initiative.
The everyday lives of Badjao children
The Badjao is a nomadic seafaring tribe originating from the coastal settlements in the Mindanao region. Widely known as “sea gypsies,” the Badjao tribe traditionally lived in houseboats called vintas–sailing the seas and hunting for the bounty of the ocean.
Al-hasief (10), Junner (12), Shermin and Jemar (14), AJ and Renan (15) are elementary school students, while Kobe (19), Alhaber, and Alex (22) are in first-year college. A typical day for these Badjao children entails helping out with household chores and going to school.
The Badjao’s primary source of livelihood is fishing. However, due to the overfishing of other groups and rising fuel prices, the Badjao tribe faces even more challenges now than before.
“My father is a fisherman, and the income is not stable. Sometimes, there is fish [but] mostly don’t,” says Jemar.
When the pandemic hit, earning money became more difficult. Children like Jemar helped their parents fish at sea so they could sell fresh catch at the market.
Sports as part of everyday life
Since the Badjao are renowned for being skilled fishermen, deep sea divers, and navigators of the sea, it is common for Badjao children to learn how to swim at a very young age.
Competitive swimming, however, is different and requires teaching from a professional. Through Aktibo Dabawenyo, the Badjao children–Al-hasief, Junner, Shermin, Jemar, AJ, and Rena–are trained by a swim coach on weekends. On weekdays, they play basketball with their peers after school.
Kobe, Alhaber, and Alex are already in college but haven’t forgotten their love for sports. They all believe that going to school and playing sports are crucial to their happiness and success.
Hoping for a brighter future
When asked about their greatest dreams, the kids said that they want to give back to their parents and be successful–wherever the tide takes them.
The Badjao children fully comprehend that good education is key to unlocking a promising future. They are keen on finishing their studies. Most want to be coastguards–yet another indication of their deep roots in Badjao seafaring culture and inherent love for the sea.
As they chase their dreams, these kids follow the simple yet important lessons life has taught them. Be grateful and listen to your parents. Be patient, and do not let challenges and failure keep you from pursuing your dreams. Above all, pray and seek God in all your endeavors.
Driven to succeed
Tradition is the precursor of innovation. Passion, perseverance, and hard work are keys to success. These Badjao youth realized their potential with the help of MILO® and Aktibo Dabawenyo, but without their drive to succeed, all potential would have been wasted and lost. Each grappling with daily struggles, these kids show no signs of giving up and look forward to achieving their goals.
“These Badjao kids are proof of how sports can make a difference in people’s lives. We at Aktibo Dabawenyo are very happy to partner with MILO®. Through this partnership, we are better equipped to create programs that help Davao youth realize their potential through sports," said Sports Development Division of the Davao City Mayor's Office (SDD-CMO) officer-in-charge Mikee Aportadera.
Anyone can overcome limitations if they persevere and work hard in the face of adversity. MILO® celebrates every child’s ability to be their best. Through advocating proper nutrition and providing opportunities for children to engage in sports, MILO® delivers on its promise to help raise winning Champions–in sports and life.
MILO® aims to help more children reach their full potential and prepares them for bigger things through sports. For more info, register for updates on MILO® sports programs here.