Bajaus’ Love Affair with Pearls

Most of the Bajaus have copper skin and golden brown hair. Locals and foreigners alike are impressed with their skills as pearl divers and makers. They scour even the deepest part of the sea and come back with shining pearls in their hands.

For most of their history, Bajaus have been a seafaring people, which explains why they are described as “sea gypsies”. The seas are their comfort and an abundant source of livelihood. They travel from one place to another in search of abundant fishing grounds.

Over time, many Bajaus fled to the bustling city in search for greener pastures. In the process, they adapted to the culture of the land-based communities.

In Sitio Puntod, Alaska Mambaling, Cebu City, live 140 Bajau families. Some of these women still wear their traditional attires, with their babies clinging to their sides while doing household chores. Most of the men are at work or out at sea. They live a simple life amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.

Meet Jovelyn Amad, a Bajau cluster leader and a mother of three who came from Zamboanga City and chose to live in the city.

“We have a very simple life here. We are not pressured by what we see in the downtown area. We communicate with the same language and live with the same identity, culture, and heritage,” she shared in Cebuano.

Even away from the wide open seas, the Bajaus still have their connection with the sea. Apart from fishing and selling fruits, pearl making is one of the income-generating initiatives.

Jovelyn’s husband, Rolly, is a pearl diver, while Jovelyn makes these pearls into accessories. The livelihood was passed on by their families from one generation to another.

“Both our parents are pearl divers and pearl jewelry makers. I remember as a child that I helped my parents make accessories. Over time, I mastered making these pearl jewelry. And when my husband and I transferred to the city, we continued this livelihood,” Amad stated. Her son, Jay-R, seven, also helps her in making pearl accessories.

Working with pearls allows the Bajaus to remember and appreciate their culture and heritage.


The Amad family also runs a small eatery in the area, which adds to their daily income.

Like other Bajau families living in the area, the Amads buy strands of pearls of different sizes and colors from their relatives in Zamboanga City.

“We make earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings out of cultured pearls. Compared to malls and stores, ours are very cheap. Making pearl jewelry is one of the prides of the Badjau tribe. We are able to make them well even without formal training,” Jovelyn said, while sorting out strands of pearls.

Their imported pearls come in round, semi-round, drop, pear, and oval shapes of different sizes. Round pearls are the rarest and the most valuable shape, according to Amad. Their colors include white, brown, and black.

Of all the pearls, the black ones are the rarest.


“We often make jewelry out of black pearls. They are our bestsellers. As of now, our buyers prefer our earrings and necklaces,” she said.

Amad stressed that their jewelry are only sold at Php100-300. Their prices could still be negotiated depending on the quantity the buyers will buy.

However, due to low market demand, their income is also affected. According to Jovelyn, some people prefer plastic accessories than real pearls. They can even produce hundreds of them if they get orders from their clients.

She pointed out that pearls have brought food on our plates and that the Bajaus generate income from them rather than accessorize their bodies with these jewelry.

“We sell it to our friends. For now, we do not have consistent buyers from the city. People only buy by piece from us. That is the challenge of the pearl making business for us, how to market it,” Jovelyn explained.

Gatha Malalin, another Bajau, expressed her concerns over how to promote their products, saying earning enough from making and selling pearl jewelry would help them generate additional income for their household needs.

“Because most of us here are dependent on this livelihood, we seek out ways ourselves to market our products. We build trust among our friends, sell to them, and assure them that every penny they spend on the jewelry is worth it,” Malalin added.

The Bajau community in Alaska Mambaling, Cebu City, through the intervention of the Badjau Integrated Area and Development Program (BIAD-P) of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), now realizes that making pearl jewelry is an integral part of their identity as a people. The Bajaus are taking steps to preserve this and maintain a sense of pride for this livelihood.

“There is a change in mind-setting among the Bajau community. We become responsible members of the tribe. We learn to appreciate the distinct culture we have,” Jovelyn stated.

Bajau leaders have established their community brand. They finally want to be called as “Wow Bajau” and be known as “Limpyo, Himsog, Hapsay, Aktibo, Edukado, Malamboon, ug Mapasigarbohong Tribong (clean, healthy, peaceful, active, educated, progressive, and talented)Bajau.”

“The BIAD-P intends to revive and make the Bajau understand and appreciate their own culture as unique and distinctive, as something to be proud of,” Rowena Bandola-Alensonorin, executive director of Integrated Development said.

Some program interventions include educating the Badjaus on the importance of proper hygiene and community mind-setting. Parents also underwent responsible parenthood seminar and families were trained to establish backyard gardens to respond to the high malnutrition rate among the Badjau children.

“By working together, we will be one of the role model communities in the city. We realized how important community-building is, especially for our pearl jewelry-making to be sustainable for us,” Jovelyn said. (By Chrisley Ann C. Hinayas/Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.)

Julie’s Bakeshop: Cebu’s Food Tradition

(My) first bakeshop opened on January 6, 1981, a day for gift-giving. I asked God to give me this, to make it work, to make it succeed. I asked God for only one but He gave me more than I ever dreamed of.

–Mrs. Julie Gandioco

The matriarch of Julie’s Bakeshop is right. The brand has spread across the country, with over 100 franchises, making it the biggest bakeshop chain to date.

Julie’s Bakeshop actually started as an offshoot of the founder’s canteen business. She believed her customers needed breads, but rather than outsourcing them, she opted to make her own. The first bakeshop opened in Wireless, Mandaue City, on January 6, 1981.

She didn’t leave anything unturned. She hired the best people to work with her and, most importantly, she learned everything there is about the business. She kneaded, tasted, and experimented.

She labored for hours, generated ideas, came up with her own creations, and worked hard to develop cost-effective processes–she worked that mother’s touch.

Thus, it didn’t come as a surprise that only after 7 years, it already had its first branch outside Cebu, in Ilo-ilo, and 10 years forward, it’s a full-fledged ready-for-franchise brand.

Indeed, Julie’s Bakeshop is more than its freshly baked breads every day or its wide range of products, from cakes and rolls to the classic pan de sal. It’s even beyond reachability and affordable price. It defines great love, passion, and commitment of everyone that makes up the business.

Julie’s always has you in its mind. Visit its official Facebook Fan page or its website for the brand’s newest offers and promos.

Youth Heritage Event on Its 4th Run

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), in partnership with the University of San Carlos (USC)-Department of Anthropology, Sociology and History and the Cebu City Government, will hold the 4th Kabataan, Kultura ug Kabilin (KKK) on Sept. 29 from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

During the activity, students from USC are going to tour museums and heritage sites.

Patterned after Gabii sa Kabilin, participants go to museums and heritage sites and avail of rides with one ticket.

Volunteers from USC and barangays and other stakeholders from the community will serve as the event’s tour guides.

Museums and heritage sites that will open are Casa Gorordo Museum, Cathedral Museum of Cebu, Cebu City Museum, Cebu Normal University Museum, Jose R. Gullas Halad Museum, Fort San Pedro, Museo Sugbo, Museo Parian sa Sugbo, Sacred Heart Church–Alternative Contemporary Arts Studio, University of Southern Philippines Foundation–Rizaliana Museum, Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, Cebu Heritage Monument, Colon Obelisk, Magellan’s Cross, Plaza Hamabar, Plaza Independencia, Plaza Sugbo, and San Nicholas Church.

Streets in the downtown area will be temporarily closed during the activity. Between 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., the streets of Lopez Jaena, Ballesteros, and Mabini, stretching from corner Bonifacio Street. to Colon Street, will be closed. One lane will be closed in Mabini Street, between Colon and Urdaneta Streets.

The event is aimed to connect theoretical lectures on history, society, culture and heritage through visiting museums and heritage sites, demonstrate the value of museum and heritage sites or institutions as tools for education, encourage a dynamic dialogue between heritage groups, host communities and young people in the promotion and protection of the sites, and develop a sense of pride.

Kabataan, Kultura ug Kabilin is supported by Cebu City Parks and Playgrounds Commission, Cebu City Police Office, Cebu City Traffic Operations Management, Department of Tourism–Region 7, and the Philippine Navy–Naval Forces Central.

Kabataan, Kultura ug Kabilin is a program under Culture & Heritage, one of the focus areas of RAFI, which aims to help communities understand, value, and share their cultural identity with others. RAFI’s other focus areas are Integrated Development, Micro-finance & Entrepreneurship, Leadership & Citizenship, and Education.

For more information about Kabataan, Kultura ug Kabilin, please call 418-7234 local 703 and look for Karl Hegel Damayo, or visit or

What’s Up: September 28-30, 2012

This week, expect a lot of food, party, shopping and social good!

September 28, Friday

Tomorrow is your last chance to shop till you drop and enjoy fabulous prizes. There’s no way you can’t miss it since, hey, it’s payday and it all starts at 8:00 p.m., when you’re completely (hopefully) done with work.

Who will say no to good food? Better yet, you’ll surely give this Chinese feast a huge nod of approval. Dine on the sumptuous Chinese buffet prepared by no other than culinary geniuses Chefs Gene and Gino Gonzales.

Want unlimited roasted calf, lechon, and drinks the entire day? Then don’t miss the relaunching of Port Restaurant, one of the best buffet restaurants in the metro. Lunch (11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) is Php 229+, dinner (6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) is Php 299+, and late-night fare (10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.) is Php 149+.


September 29, Saturday

Be a “professional chef” for a day. Attend the Open house of American International Culinary and Hospitality Institute this Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Make your Saturday night one that you’ll never forget. Party like it’s now or never with the hottest tunes, awesome DJs, and cool people. This is open to all BBM, Android, and iPhone users.

SM Consolacion will make your one-hour trip all worth it. Win the latest gadgets, be treated by awesome entertainment, and enjoy up to 50 percent off when you shop.


September 30, Sunday


All the ladies out there, learn how to love yourself more through early detection of breast cancer. Usher Pink October by having your breasts checked for free.


Costabella Stories in Photos

For more than 25 years, Costabella Tropical Beach Hotel in Mactan Island has been gathering not tourist statistics but stories, which are more long lasting, more intimate, and more unforgettable.

So if you’re staying in Costabella, these can be your possible tales:

The stately seafront suite gives you a perfect venue to daydream during sunrise or sunset, create fun memories with the kids, rekindle the lost passion with your partner, or even look forward to a new beginning.

You just don’t spend dinners at La Marina. You celebrate life and love, build a business, enhance your network, socialize with newly found or long-lost friends, propose to the one you love, satisfy your palate’s curiosity, and spend hours of laughter with your loved ones.

Costabella weddings are a testament of love and commitment, a time to find a soul mate, to believe in love, to cherish friendships, to welcome the new addition to the family, and to remember again that life becomes more meaningful when shared.

Relax at Lema Spa and rejuvenate your soul, learn to love yourself more, reward yourself for all the sacrifices you’ve made, soothe the pain, let go of your worries, and sleep yourself to wonderful dreams.

Costabella helps you believe in the good times, in the blessing of family and friends, in a beautiful life. Most of all, the tropical paradise within the city enriches your life with more beautiful stories.

Come now and make your own.

Costabella Tropical Beach Hotel is located at Buyong, Mactan Island, 30 minutes away from Cebu City.


Hotel Number: 24/7 (+6332) 238-2700 / 495-1000

Reservations Number: Mon-Sat (8am-6pm) (+6332) 231-4244 / 416-2440



Plants vs Zombies Musical

Catch the entertaining musical of Plants vs Zombies on August 17 to 19, 2012, at Ayala Center-Cebu.

Yes, you read it right! There’s a Plant vs Zombies Musical, and it’s going to be held in Ayala Center-Cebu this August 17 to 19, 2012.

This fun show is open to everyone, even to those who don’t know anything about the game from which this is based (like me!). I am super-duper excited to find out how everything is going to work out, and I think you should too!

To get an ENTRY PASS, please make sure you can call 232-0380 or drop by Privileges Desk in Ayala Center-Cebu. If you’re an A-card or VIPinoy card holder, there’s an additional treat for you.

Don’t you ever miss this out!

There’s a New Township in Mactan

It may be hard for others to call a tour in the Mactan Newtown as an adventure, but that’s what it is to me. I’ve been living in the island for more than 20 years, and I’ve seen huge developments, but I’ve never really been this excited.

Looking at the master plan (below) makes me truly happy because it would mean plenty of opportunities not only for Lapu-Lapu residents but for the entire province as well. We are generally a residential area (as evident by the sprouting subdivisions), yet a grand complex such as this is truly a welcome and refreshing addition.


So what can we expect from the Mactan Newton? A lot! And we can begin with the debut of the biggest McDonald’s in Cebu Island this September 2012. Composed of 2 levels, the fast food may feature WIFI connection and, of course, the chance to visit the luxurious new township.

In the coming years, we’re going to see towers of homes and BPO offices, al fresco restaurants and cafes, bars, a terminal hub for commuters, a wellness center, a huge shopping mall with a Newport-style cinema, and an amazing view of the Hilutungan Channel and the Magellan Bay.

While on the third floor overlooking the wide Megaworld property, I asked Mr. Ronald Tiongson (senior assistant VP for business development and leasing division), “Why Mactan? This is a residential area.” He said, “We love to build something out of nothing.” With that, I smiled and thought, “Times are a-changin’, Mactan. Prepare for something REALLY good.”