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Sama-Bajau in Philippines


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Sama-Bajau in Philippines map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
130,000 Sama, Central Ethnic Religions 5.00 % 2.00 %   

Sama-Bajau in Philippines

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Introduction / History
Scattered throughout the Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines live the Sama Badjao, a people nobody wants. Badjao means "man of the seas." By tradition, the people are sea nomads, traveling by boat from one island to the next in search of a fishing harvest.

The origin of the Sama Badjao is not clear. The Sama originally inhabited the islands and coastal areas between the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Islands. Evidence suggests that they began to leave their homeland during the first millennium AD. Most moved south and westward, establishing themselves along the main Sulu Archipelago, the Cagayan Sulu Islands, and the eastern Borneo coast. Many believe they came from either Sumatra or the South Sea Islands. Some think their migration in the first millennium A.D. resulted from expanding Chinese trade. Originally, the Sama Badjao may have been a land-based tribe pushed into the seas by population pressures and by more dominant tribes. Historically, they held no land or other property ashore, except for small burial islands. Through years of oppression, the Sama Badjao have found solace on the seas.

The Sama are a highly fragmented people with no overall political unity. Specific Sama groups can be distinguished by dialect. However, most identify themselves with a particular island or island cluster.

The Central Sama of the Philippines live on several islands in the Sulu Archipelago, near the island of Borneo. Their language, Siasi Sama, is similar to Tausug and other Sama languages. In general, the term Sama refers to a diverse group of Sama-Bajau speaking peoples who are scattered from the central Philippines to the eastern shore of Borneo, and throughout the Indonesian islands.

What are their lives like?
The lives of the Central Sama revolve around fishing, seafaring, and trade, with some farming along the coastal strips. Throughout much of Sulu and eastern Sabah, copra (the meat of the coconut from which coconut oil is derived) is the major cash crop. Copra holdings are small, and few families own enough palms to support themselves entirely from copra sales.

Trade has also long occupied a central place in Central Sama society. Since long ago, seafarers were valued as suppliers of trepang (sea cucumbers), dried fish, pearls, pearl shells, and other marine commodities. Among the Central Sama, both men and women share in agricultural labor and engage in trade. Fishing, building boats, and working with iron are primarily male occupations. Women generally weave mats and market pottery.

The people now live in one of three types of dwellings: stilt houses on the coast, ordinary land houses clustered along protected shorelines or houseboats. Houses, which are raised one to three meters above the ground or highest water mark, usually consist of a single rectangular room with an attached kitchen. Houses built over the water are connected by small bridges or planks. Houseboats are often double dugout canoes. Typically each boat shelters five or six people - a family and maybe one or two other relatives. Two to six families anchor their boats in a cluster while fishing, sharing food and pooling labor and resources.

Households are grouped in larger units called tumpuk, which means "clusters." The Central Sama live near their families and maintain close ties with their relatives. One household head is selected by the cluster members to act as the tumpuk spokesman. A parish consists of local groups whose members are affiliated with a single mosque. Sometimes, clusters and parishes are one and the same.

What are their beliefs?
Many identify themselves as Muslims. Those who are well versed in religious matters, including the imams (religious leaders) and other mosque officials are called paki or pakil. The paki preside over all major rites, act as religious counselors, and conduct minor rites of thanksgiving.

Friday prayers are performed in the parish mosque and are the climax of a weekly cycle of daily prayers. An annual religious calendar includes Ramadan (the ninth month in which all Muslims fast) and the prophet Mohammed's birthday.

Almost all the Badgao hold animistic beliefs. They believe that non-living objects have spirits. Spirits of the dead are thought to remain in the vicinity of their graves. These spirits require offerings for appeasement. Some graves have reportedly become the sources of miracle working power.

During the month of Shaaban, it is said that Allah permits the souls of the dead (roh) to return to this world. To honor their return, the people offer special prayers to the dead and clean the grave areas.

What are their needs?
Since the early 1970s, the fight for independence has resulted in massive relocation of the islanders to other parts of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Muslim extremists are still very active and there have been numerous murders, kidnappings, and battles with the Philippine military forces. These fiercely independent people need to find their identity and future in Jesus in order to know peace.

An area of great need for the Badjao is education. Currently less than 10% of the school age children attend school despite the fact that the public schools are free to attend.

Prayer Points
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth Christian laborers to work among the Central Sama of the Philippines.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Central Sama.
* Pray that God will give the few Central Sama believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders in the Philippines who will boldly declare the Gospel.

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2016-06-16
Global Prayer Digest: 2016-06-17
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Country: Philippines
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
10/40 Window: No
Location in Country:Muslim Mindinao autonomous region, Sulu andTawi-Tawi provinces, Siasi, Tabawan, Bonggao Sitangkai, Cagayan de Sulu island; Basilan island, Maluso, Malamawi, Bohe’ Lobbong; Zamboanga del Sur Province, Rio Hondo, Batuan Lumbayaw, Taluk Sangay, Sanggali; Zamboanga del Norte Province, Olutangga; Davao City, Isla Verde, and Sasa; Cagayan de Oro; Visayas, Cebu and Tagbilaran; Palawan, Puerto Princesa; Batangas.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Sama-Bajau
People Name General: Sama-Bajau
Alternate People Names:
BadjaosSea Gypsies
ROP3 Code: 114778
Joshua Project People ID: 18873
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 130,000
Population all Countries: 150,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
People Cluster: Filipino, Muslim
People Name General: Sama-Bajau
Ethnic Code: MSy44z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Sama, Central (130,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): sml    Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect:Dilaut-badjao
Dialect Code:16236
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity5.00 %(Evangelical: 2.00 %)
Ethnic Religions65.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam30.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 2   Less than 2% Evangelical. Initial (localized) church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1966-2008
New Testament:
Complete Bible: None Reported
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament (FCBH)
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Sama, Central
GeneralAudio Bible, Scripture apps, sermons in ...
Ministry Activity
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Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Sama-Bajau in Philippines

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Filipino, Muslim     Asia, Southeast    
      Sama-Bajau Philippines    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Sama-Bajau in Philippines          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Sama, Central  
    All Religions                              

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