Tillah: Badjao woman who works with dignity

Tillah: Badjao woman who works with dignity

By Apolinario Villalobos


On my way to the bus terminal of Tacurong city where I was to take a van for Davao, I saw a Badjao woman who was carefully covering the seat of a motorbike with a piece of corrugated cartoon, supposedly to protect it from the scorching heat of the sun and a sudden downpour. I talked to the woman and asked for her name which she gave as “Tillah”. She told me that she has four children who has the same “job” and that they are positioned in strategic corners of the city. By strategic, it means where motorbikes park. Even car owners concede to have the hood of their cars covered with a piece of cartoon.


The cartoons are the dismantled corrugated boxes that the Badjaos ask from store owners and had seen good old days as containers of milk, sachets of instant noodles, etc. The collection of dismantled boxes become precious belongings of these boat and stilt house-dwelling Filipinos. They are paid Php5 for their “service”. In the evening, the cartons become their sleeping mats that cover the cold pavement of a sidewalk where they could spend the night.


Further asked about her family, she told me that she is a widow with four children. Having no source of income in Zamboanga, except begging, they ventured inland, trying their luck in any town along the way, as they seek a “greener pasture”. They are lucky to have stayed longer in Tacurong because of the benevolence of the residents.


Hopefully, I would be able to meet the children of Tillah….perhaps, when I come back to the City of Goodwill.