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Sea Gypsies, I Pity Them, But Authorities Banned Giving Them Money
May 13, 2017


These are people on boats, popularly known as “sea gypsies. We often see them on piers or ports. They sail near arriving or departing roll-on-roll-off ships or other sea vessels transporting passengers from one island to another. They are expert swimmers and divers, who can dive so fast to retrieve coins thrown by ship passengers. They usually shout “hagis!” (throw) for people on board the ships to throw them some money usually coins because paper bills can be swept by the wind or be wet when it touch the water.

As you can see in my photo, they swim or sail next to passenger ferries to beg for money or for some loose change. I pity them to see them struggling to dive especially if passengers throw small coins or smaller denominations of money. If they throw bigger denominations of coins like PhP5.00 or PhP10.00 even PhP1.00, it will be easier to dive for it. It sinks slower too, and from the ship, the thrower or giver can see the coin sinking slowly in a zigzag manner, not sinking directly down the bottom of the sea. So the “sea gypsy” easily catches them.

I wonder how much they can earn from departing and arriving ferries. The government has banned travelers from throwing money to them because a “sea gypsy” died some years ago when he got trapped in the ship’s motor blades. Maybe he tried to retrieve a coin near the blades, and when the motor is running, it can hit the diver or he could be stucked in there!

The local governments through the Department of Social Welfare had offered livelihood opportunities to the “sea gypsies” to prevent such accidents, and for them not to risk their lives trying to dive for coins for a living. This is the reason why travelers were also banned from throwing them coins, so they no longer find it lucrative to beg for money in the ports.

Though ferry or ship passengers are already prohibited from throwing coins to the sea beggars, some could not resist, or they are too soft-hearted or kind-hearted to share some of their loose change to them.

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    1. Just hoping that the “other member here” will not use my photos for his/her blogs. These are taken in the Philippines and should not be used by other people without my permission!

    2. cely said on May 13, 2017

      Hahahaha , that was I have said to my post in group forum which stated: I hope my photo will not be stilen, then after few seconds, I saw my face floating in the blog screen, grrrr. How I like to remove both eyes of the thief and all the thieves.Bad karma to those who do wrong against our will. They should have sent us a private message to ask permission if allow them to use our own personal photo, “grabe naman ka bobo”. They had done grave misconduct. It must not be toleated, but support cannot be found.

      In relation to your blig, I remember when Dennis was in Cagayan de Oro, I brought him to port to see our wide ocean and coastal views only to see many sea beggars. Dennis loved to throw them all his pennies almost 300 pesos and many came nearer begging to throw more hehehehe. They have big body structures, Their problem is their laziness and tolerarnce of their poor earnings, very “tamad.” not worth of a help. I did not stop Dennis for he liked to see children happy with some vents thrown to sea.They are good divers.Dennis was also a deep sea diver when he was young and staying with his mom in Australia.

      • Thanks @Cely for your concern on stolen photos.The member, Zasa, asked me to forgive her/him.She said she’s sorry for what she had done. I hope she learned that it is not right to just use other person’s photos without permission. Just like you, I will permit her to use it if she asked for my approval, out of courtesy!

        You are right, the Department of Social Welfare and other government agencies had tried to “reach out” to the sea gypsies to give them other sources of livelihood instead of begging on the seas. I don’t know, maybe they liked that way of life!

    3. Dina said on May 25, 2017

      Where is this place my friend where there are sea gypsies.

      I think it is a demeaning way to give to the poor people. For just those coins, they will risk their lives diving into the sea and even under the ships, where indeed they can die when they get entangled over a plank or string or whatever that can make them suffocate.

      The government should really ban this kind of coin giving. It’s a demeaning way for the people to earn some money.


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