HYI Working Paper Series: Aoyama Waka

Living a New Life as “Christian Bajau”? (Aoyama Waka, University of Tokyo)
Abstract: This manuscript is a direct self-translation of chapter ten from my Japanese book, An Ethnography of Poverty: Socioeconomic Life of Five Sama Families in Davao City, Philippines, published by the University of Tokyo Press in 2006. A few parts have been modified, however, to fit in the given space with careful effort to retain the original contents. This chapter is intended to update the reader on the situation of the third group (represented by Papa Melcito’s family in a previous chapter, Harvard-Yenching Working Paper series, January 5, 2016), or the groups of lower social status among the Sama in the research site. They have dramatically accepted Christianity since missionaries (mainly Pentecostal pastors from local fellowships and pastors from non-denominational independent churches of North America) came to spread the Gospel with passion and enthusiasm around the year 2000. This shift in belief systems and its concomitant inflow of resources as offerings from outside have resulted in a significant reconfiguration of their self-identification as “Christian Bajau.” The power structure within the community has also been changed with the rise of a Sama Dilaut pastor as a new type of leader who receives donations from outside and distributes them among his members. No significant upward social mobility or empowerment of the “Bajaus” in larger society has occurred so far.