Spearfishing with the Badjao, A Divers story – In the Philippines with Badjao Bridge

Over a traditional Filipino meal of barbecued intestines, livers, chicken and pork, our team had a conversation with Salonga Tapsilani. Salonga, a 24 year old Badjoa, has been spearfishing since the age of 15 to provide for his family.

Like many of the Badjao, Salonga heads out to sea at three in the afternoon and dives until five in the morning. He free dives to depths of up to 80’ with a primitive airline held in his mouth with his teeth. The oxygen supply comes from a lawnmower engine in the boat where it is a challenge to keep the fumes out of the hose, failure to do so can be fatal. After eight hours in the water the diver’s signal to come up is his oxygen supply being turned off. When the Badjao diver experiences the loss of oxygen, he swims rapidly to the surface, coming up at a rate that threatens his life.

I have tremendous respect for Salonga’s hard work and his desire to provide for his family. Our team felt honored to work beside these young men that work so hard for so little. Their pay for risking their lives? Roughly two dollars a day for a job that severely compromises their life.

Change does not come easy for the Badjao tribe, their days are hard and their conveniences are few but they cherish their life on the sea. Their smiles are contagious and their sense of community always leaves me a bit envious.

I loved my time diving with the Badjao today, these photos will give you a glimpse of our time together.

To learn more about Badjao Bridge and their unique ministry to the Bafjao go to – http://www.badjaobridge.org

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