HYI Working Paper Series: Aoyama Waka

AbstractIn Davao City, the Philippines, ethno-linguistic and cultural diversity are officially treated as resources. However, the Sama-Bajau (a mixed group of Sinama speaking peoples, more commonly referred to as the “Bajau” in the local context) are largely perceived by non-Sama-Bajau populations as the least privileged people, and sometimes even mentioned as “uncivilized,” partly because of their image as beggars/divers as well as a popular discourse about their “having no religion.” With such paradoxical reality, I will attempt to bring together sets of data I gathered from 1997 to 1999 in order to achieve two objectives. The first objective is to find out what kind of living space(s) Sama-Bajau migrants have created in Davao City. The second objective is to explain variations in the living space(s) found among them, applying the concept of social exclusion in development studies. In this working paper, I will first describe the life of Sama-Bajau migrants in the research site. Second, I will attempt to find the reasons for adaptive variations among Sama-Bajau migrants, applying the analytical framework of social exclusion in development studies. Third, I will try to analyze the reasons for the characteristics of the space(s) created by the Sama-Bajau in Davao City at a deeper level, comparing the present case with two other cases, the Sama Dilaut and the Olang Alsi, in Malaysia. Finally, I will present two implications delivered from this study: 1) the predicament of the Sama-Bajau in Davao City may in part echo an institutional bias that the Philippines as a nation-state has had as part of its political structure; and 2) if so, a remaining question is who should/could be responsible for social policy in the Philippines to mitigate the social exclusions from which poor ethnic minorities like the Sama-Bajau suffer. Thus, as a next phase of my ethnographic study, I will continue to explore the role of faith-based development organizations, especially Christian missionaries (Pentecostals), as well as the meaning of the lived experience of Sama-Bajau converts from their own perspectives.