My experience with the Badjao community
On my first day of meeting the Badjao community, I was slightly nervous. I did not know what to expect in the slightest. It is only now I see how irrational these feelings were. The welcome we experienced was like none I ever had. The people were so warm, open, and friendly; I learned so much from them. The Badjao live an ordinary and simple life. Although they were undoubtedly trapped and restricted in ways, there was also a strong sense of freedom present through the simplicity of their lifestyle. Never have I seen people with so little so happy. The hours of entertainment the children got out of playing with a large puddle of water were endless. The Badjao are remarkable people, content with what they have and bursting with love, life and joy. The only pain I ever felt with the Badjao was the day I had to leave them. The week spent in Tacloban for me was harrowing but worthwhile. We did not meet the same laughs, songs and welcome as we did with the Badjao. However, that is not to say that everyone did not keep a smile on their faces. From listening to the stories of the survivors, witnessing the destruction of Typhoon Yolanda, which was still present and uncomfortably visiting a mass grave, I felt very out of place and almost useless on my first day in Tacloban. As the week went by, I learned what I could do to help and become more confident. From playing soccer with a group of children every night to mixing cement for builders and teaching an entire community how to make bracelets, we offered help and spread some joy. Although it did not seem like much, hopefully, it was a lift to the people of Tacloban burdened with the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.