MANILA - Internationally acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza has joined the call of thousands who signed a petition at change.org to allow Badjao evacuees to return to their homes in Zamboanga City.
Around 850 Badjao families from the villages of Rio Hondo and Makiri have been staying at evacuation centers and bunkhouses after they were displaced during the Zamboanga siege.
Mendoza, who developed close ties with the Badjaos when he made the internationally-acclaimed film "Thy Womb" starring Nora Aunor and Bembol Roco, asked the government to consider the Badjaos' culture and traditions in their plans to relocate them inland.
He said that not looking into the culture of Badjaos in their relocation plans is "tantamount to taking their souls away."
"Ngayon ang edukasyon natin, naka-focus sa technology, sa advancement of learning pero yung history natin, yung kultura natin? Hindi mo ba napapansin, kahit na ilang presidente na yan, yung culture hindi nababanggit sa SONA. Sa priorities, kahit pang-20 wala sya," he added.
The 2009 Cannes Best Film Director awardee also plans to rally several celebrities in his call to help the Badjaos.
Mendoza also encouraged Filipinos to stand to create awareness about the situation of the Badjaos and other minorities.
Brillante Mendoza wants Badjaos to be allowed to return to their homes.
The director is set to present signatures to Sen. Loren Legarda and personally appeal for Badjaos on Tuesday.
He will be accompanied by filmmaker and petition starter Honee Alipio.