Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stranger #2: Thank you for the music

It is common to see young Badjao men handing out envelopes inside jeeps along North Avenue in Metro Manila these days. Usually, the envelopes read, "Ma'am/Sir, Kami po ay Badjao. Humihingi kaming tulong." (Ma'am/Sir, We are Badjao. We are asking for help.)

Members of the Badjao tribe are also known as Sea Gypsies. They come from the southern part of the Philippines in Mindanao. One possible reason why many of them can now be seen in Manila is the notion that the city is the gateway to earning more money. Sadly, this notion doesn't always prove to be true.

The Badjao in North Avenue play music inside jeeps in exchange for money. They put envelopes on your lap and start playing drums while singing a song in their dialect. Although some people are against giving money to jobless individuals, I find it hard to just look away and not give anything to the Badjao. When once again I encountered a young Badjao, at first I thought of just inserting some spare change into the envelope he gave me. But remembering that the kind of kindness I am pushing for is that which requires giving more than what is expected of you (whether by yourself or by other people), I pulled out a bill and put it inside the envelope. It wasn't much, but it could buy a meal.

I am aware of the negative sides of giving money to beggars. But, I thought giving some of my money is the only way I could thank the young Badjao for the music he plays all day. I couldn't understand the lyrics of his song because it wasn't in Filipino (there are about 175 languages in the Philippines), but I know that it sounded beautiful--and that beauty is something to be thankful for.

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To read more about the Badjao in the Philippines, click this link to a LA Times article.

Readers, please submit your entries to fivehundredstrangers@yahoo.com. Your act of kindness doesn't have to be mindblowing. What matters is that you made an effort to go out of your comfort zone and felt in a deeper level the beauty of kindness. You don't really have to send pictures or videos--just writing about it will do. Let's make the world a kinder place and show others that a simple act of kindness can go a long, long way! :)

Micah

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