BBC documentary features Palawan divers, Badjaos

By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Feb 17 2011 11:13 AM | Updated as of Feb 17 2011 08:41 PM

BBC documentary features Palawan divers, Badjaos 1LONDON - A British documentary has highlighted the dangers of aquatic lifestyles in the Philippines featuring compressor divers from Palawan and the Badjao community of Sulu Sea.

“Into the Blue,” an episode of the BBC documentary series “Human Planet,” explores the lives of people from around the world who face and overcome challenges of the sea.

It features a group of compressor divers in the Philippines, fishermen from the island of Palawan who risk their lives deep in the ocean using the most basic of diving equipments. They are considered to be among the lowest wage earners in the country, with an average of $25 per week.

“The documentary is well done in many aspects,” said Dr. Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno III, a maritime health expert from Cardiff University. “From its content to the way they wove the story and the way they shot the scenes, it is technically excellent. It shows the beauty and natural resources of the country.”

He added: “It is a good glimpse on how some sectors of the Philippine society are not well protected by the laws of the land. It is an eye-opener to the reality of what is happening in the country, especially with the marginalized and the poor. Compressor diving is a profession that is hazardous and should not be practiced anymore. As novel at it may seem - and interesting not only to foreigners but to Filipinos as well - these individuals should be protected by the occupational health laws of the country and be provided better opportunities for earning money.”

The documentary also features the Badjao, an indigenous ethnic group from the southern seas of the Philippines as well as parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. The Badjao community dwells on boats and spends most of their lives at sea, venturing on land only for supplies and emergencies. They have no nationality and no fixed abode.

“The documentary was successful in selectively bringing in oceanic ways of life and people’s adaptability to the environment,” said Analyn Salvador-Amores, an anthropologist from the University of Oxford.

She added: “The Badjao section does not tell much, though it shows how man can live in water over land with their own notions of time and space. The Badjao's way of life is a stark contrast to the rest of the human population who dwell on land.”

"Into the Blue" also features mullet fishermen from Brazil, shark callers from Papua New Guinea, big wave surfers from Hawaii, whale hunters from Indonesia, and goose barnacle collectors from Spain.

Human Planet airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer until March 2011.