Challenging Perspectives Photo Challenge – the Philippines

To encourage SERVE 2015 volunteers to think critically about common perceptions and misconceptions related to developing countries, we were given the task of taking photos that we think will challenge the perspectives of people in Ireland – keeping in mind the Dochas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages.

With this task in mind, we quickly realised that it would not be that difficult to fulfil. While so much has changed, developing countries continue to be described through a series of lacks and absences, failings and problems, plagues and catastrophes.

SERVE has worked with the Presentations Sisters and the Badjao tribe in Cebu for the last 12 years.  The Badjao people are a marginalised community living on the edges of society in Cebu.  They are discriminated against by other Filipinos and are considered second class citizens by the general population.  A tribe commonly referred to as worthless and lazy by the country’s own citizens, over the years the SERVE volunteers have come to see the resilience and determination of this community to provide for itself and to strive for the success of it’s people.

The accompanying photos aim to illustrate the perspectives that are being challenged within the volunteer group and hopefully witihin the surrounding community, through such things as:

  • The construction of a permanent school building structure
  • The construction of concrete family homes
  • The opening of a health centre
  • The importance of education – from the youngest children to the tribe elders taking lessons to improve their literacy
  • Loyalty to the tribe: Badjao tribe members graduating from college and returning as qulaified teachers in their home community
  • The importance of identity and maintaining the tribal culture and traditions
  • The understanding of the need for shared gender roles within the community
  • The importance of embracing technology and new developments to enhance the development of the tribe

Despite the discrimination they face, the Badjao tribe are realising that they are just as entitled to a brighter future as other Filipinos and with that self-belief can only come acceptance from the community around them.