ARMM Badjao kid dreams to attend college through volleyball

Danielle Nakpil
ARMM Badjao kid dreams to attend college through volleyball
Mahid Baggeyo has never seen places beyond Tawi-Tawi until the 2016 Palarong Pambansa. But with volleyball, he now has bigger dreams.

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Mahid Baggeyo grew up under the scorching sun, beside the sea in Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao. Fishing is his family’s livelihood and the sea has become their home. It’s always been their home. 

Baggeyo, 12, is a Badjao. The Badjao people is one of the many indigenous people groups in the Philippines and are also called “Sea Gypsies” because of their seaborne lifestyle. 

Every afternoon, Baggeyo would watch his friends play volleyball by the beach using worn-out or borrowed balls and ropes as makeshift nets.

He eventually learned to play the sport and later on earned his spot as the highest pointer in the ARMM Regional Meet as an ace spiker. This is how his humble journey to the 2016 Palarong Pambansa began. 

Chasing the dream 

Baggeyo had never left the islands of Tawi-Tawi until this year for his first stint at the Palarong Pamabansa here.

Everything looked surreal to the boy – the crowds of people he saw at the sports complex during the opening ceremony, the  unfamiliar place, and even the gigantic television monitors located at the track oval. Baggeyo was beyond amazed. 

When Rappler came to meet him at the billeting quarters of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Baggeyo shyly welcomed the team while assistant coach Mohammad Tadus accompanied him.

Baggeyo doesn’t speak Tagalog and understands very little of the language but his dreams spoke louder than words. 

Pangarap kong makapag-aral tsaka makapagtapos,” he timidly said in Samal when asked about his dream. Coach Tadus translated it to Filipino. (My dream is to study and finish my education.) 

Gusto ko pong makatulong sa mga magulang ko,” he added. (I want to help my parents.) 

Many Badjao have never set foot in school. Some by choice, while some are simply incapable of availing the right to study.

Tadus said that it’s always been their goal to bring these kids to school and to educate them in order for them to help their families get out of poverty. 

Malaking tulong sa pamilya nila kapag nakatapos sila ng high school at college. Sana ma-expose at ma-educate sila.” (It’s a big help to their parents if they finish high school and college. We really hope to expose and educate them.) 

According to him, some of Baggeyo’s relatives have already finished college and are now working in the local government of the province. He has the same dream for the boy.

Ang importante makapag aral siya.” (What’s important is for him to go to school.)

The MSU Preparatory High School sports coordinator told Rappler that Baggeyo’s parents have no means to send him to school even though he’s the only child in the family. Hence, the local government helps finance his education. 

WHOLE NEW WORLD. Assistant coach Mohammad Tadus (L) translates for Mahid Baggeyo, who doesn't speak Filipino and understands very little of the language. Mahid has never left the islands of Tawi-Tawi until his trip to the 2016 Palarong Pambansa in Legazpi City. Photo by Mary Joy Gelit/Rappler

Remarkable young athlete 

Before the interview, the ARMM elementary boys’ volleyball team had just won their first match against Zamboanga Peninsula via straight-sets victory. Baggeyo performance helped give his squad momentum for their second match against the Ilocos Region.

During the lower meet, nakita ko ang galing niya. Ang ganda ng palo niya. Ang lakas,” said Tadus. (I already noticed him during the lower meet. He plays well and hits really hard.) 

Tadus has seen much potential in Baggeyo just like what he saw in some of his players who are now part of the volleyball teams of big universities and colleges in Manila. He really hopes that volleyball would help fulfill Mahid’s dream of getting a college degree.

However, he emphasized that volleyball only comes second to education. 

Secondary lang ang volleyball. Ang importante dito ay pag-aaral. 30% lang ang volleyball, 70% ang pag aaral.” (Volleyball is secondary. What’s important here is education. 30% goes to volleyball, while 70% goes to education.)

The story of this boy, who also dreams of becoming a teacher and wants to teach volleyball to the Badjao children of Sibutu, has just started.

His hopes of finishing education is already far-fetched to many of his fellow Badjao. But Baggeyo dares to see beyond the circumstances and to use volleyball as a stepping stone towards achieving his dream.

He is even determined to gain a podium finish for his team this year. 

Gusto ko po mag-champion. Kailangan lang pong mag-training pa at maging disiplinado,” he said with a smile. (I want us to become the champion. We just need to train harder and be disciplined.) –

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