A kind Filipino policeman is now being considered as a hero after he decided to lend a home to Badjao beggars for free this Christmas season. This is after he saw the poor condition of the families especially the small children and babies sleeping in the cold streets with only carton boxes as their bed.
The policeman, who wishes to remain anonymous, only identified himself as “Noel” of Tanauan City, Batangas. According to him, he saw the Badjao families while doing his regular night routine patrol early this month. At first, he politely asked the family not to sleep on the sidewalk, and they followed him.
But the following night, Noel saw the Badjao families again on the same area. Muin Upalao, the oldest man and is considered as the leader of the group, begged him to allow them to stay there. Noel told TN that the group is not among the familiar Badjao beggars people see especially during Christmas.
“Muin can speak Tagalog well. He told me that they used to live in Baclaran and that they are not really beggars. That time, they were selling goods on the streets and sleep on abandoned houses. However, local police always drive them away so they were forced to leave.” Noel told TN.
“He told me that the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) has ‘rescued’ them twice. But they left the shelters because they were not treated humanely. He said there are also other Badjao families who escaped before them.” The Batangas cop added, who is also a member of a Baptist Church.
According to Noel, he understands that there are a lot of Badjaos that are being used by syndicates forcing them to beg on the streets. He also knows about the Anti-Mendicancy Law of 1978 as issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos under Presidential Decree 1563, but is not being strictly implemented.
Apparently, Upalao presented him some “IDs” and other documents proving that they are not professional beggars. This is why Noel invited the families to stay on his place in a nearby barangay, at least during this Christmas season. He said he asked permission from his wife, who also feels pity to the Badjaos.
Noel and his wife prepared two small apartment units for them. They actually have three of them, which they managed to establish when the couple was still working in Dubai. That time, they have only one child but now they have four. Two of them are now in college, while the other two are in high school.
Noel said that after saving some money, they decided to return home for good and Laura put up a small business. His in-laws gave them a piece of land, where they slowly build the apartment. His neighbors told TN that the rent costs P3,000 ($60) a month. Each unit has a one room, a bathroom, and a kitchen.
Currently, only one of the three units has tenants who are also members of the Baptist Church. Noel said he decided to lend two units because Upalao has 10 other companions including 3 small children and a baby. The church also provided them some blankets and old clothes, along with two old beds.
Humble enough, Noel didn’t tell us that two Muslim families offered an advance payment for the rent. But after he decided to help the Badjaos, he requested them to move on the first week of January. The Muslims agreed, but insisted to give the advance payment. The cop did not accept the money but promised them to reserve the units.
“I have always wanted to be a cop. It’s unfortunate that the public has somehow lost trust on us, which I’m trying to change. I’m not helping these Badjaos not because I want to take credit. I’m helping them because they need it.” Noel said, adding that he is now coordinating with the local DSWD regarding this issue.