Seamstress on Pulau Gaya


Misha (right), a 17 year old Mabul immigrant, watches her young baby. Misha was married when she was 15 and had her first child at 16. After an abusive start to her marriage she kicked her husband out. Her husband destroyed the baby’s citizenship papers, the only evidence the newborn is a Malaysian citizen. Misha fled violence in the Philippines years ago and does not have papers so working is quite difficult. She lives with her father and mother, but both are absent working on nearby islands. “I want to be able to go to school and make a good life for my family,” she said. Most inhabitants on Mabul Island have lived there for some time, but previously fled violence in the Philippines. New large eco-resorts are trying to take over and kick out the only safe home they’ve known.

The people of Mabul Island

Women’s March in New York City

January 21, 2017. New York, New York. On Saturday, January 21 more than 400,000 people marched through Manhattan in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, according to the Mayor’s Office. Although the exact numbers are debated, hundreds of thousands of people marched from the United Nations on 42nd Street and then turned up Fifth Avenue to march all the way to the Trump Tower. More than 2 million people across the world marched in solidarity.

Sama Dilaut Wedding

December 3, 2015. A Sama Dilaut bride dances the traditional Igal dance during day 3 of her wedding celebration. Igal is a dance practiced by the Sama or Sinama-speaking people in Southeast Asia. It is considered to be one of the most important forms in the country and is thought to be similar to dances found in Thailand and Cambodia. The bride is also dancing to collect donations from the villagers for her wedding. (Marlena Skrobe)

Simunul Island

November 30, 2015. Students studying at Sheikh Karimol Makdum Mosque take a work break and wave at mosque visitors. The mosque, which was built in 1380, is the oldest mosque in the Philippines. Sheikh Makhadum karim was an Arab trader who came to Tawi-Tawi. The Mosque has been declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Historical Commission and a Natural Cultural Treasure by the National Museum. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 30, 2015. A Sama Dilaut woman shows off one of her mats in Simunul, Tawi-Tawi. Simunul is a fourth class municipality of the province of Tawi-Tawi in the Philippines. The first Muslims in the Philippines are said to have arrived through Simunul.


November 30, 2015. A Sama Dilaut boy in Simunul, Philippines.

Freedom in Tawi-Tawi

November 29, 2015. Local Tausug children: Rashidan Ilano, Ratael Omar, RIdzmar Omar, and Adasil Sabtari play on their favorite pier in Tawi-Tawi, Philippines on the evening of November 29, 2015. “This is all we do. I have no problem with life. Everything is good, “ says the oldest, Rashidan, before he leaps into the water. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 25, 2015. A Sama Dilaut woman works on the beginning process of a Baloy mat. Baloy refers to the colorful mats made of dyed pandan leaf strips. These mats are extremely useful for the Sama Dilaut home. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 29, 2015. Sama Dilaut mat makers hard at work in Tungkalang, Tawi-Tawi. Elders in the village are worried that many young Sama Dilaut women have l0st interest in carrying the tradition, but in this particular family the skill of weaving remains strong. (Marlena Skrobe)

November 29, 2015. A proud Sama Dilaut father and his newborn daughter. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 28, 2015. Boat builders watch the sunset on November 28, 2015 in Tungkalang, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 28, 2015. Sama Dilaut and Tausug kids relaxing on the afternoon of November 28, 2015 in Tungkalang, Tawi-Tawi. (Marlena Skrobe)


Bud Bongao Protectors

November 28, 2015. Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. A Long-tailed macaque waits patiently for a banana offering as visitors climb the sacred Bud Bongao mountain. Bud Bongao is Tawi-Tawi’s most famous mountain. It’s a pilgrimage site for both Christians and Muslims.

Batu-Batu Market

November 28, 2015. Sunrise in Tawi-Tawi, Philippines on the morning of November 28, 2015. (Marlena Skrobe)

November 28, 2015. Fish are hung to dry in the Batu-Batu market in Tawi,Tawi, Philippines. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 28, 2015. Batu-Batu, Philippines. A Sama Dilaut grandmother and grandson sell seaweed and other small fish in the Batu-Batu market in Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 28, 2015. Batu-Batu, Tawi-Tawi. Men carry fish from a fishing vessel to the market in Batu-Batu, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 28, 2015. Batu-Batu, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. Fishermen prepare their nets before departing on a short fishing trip. (Marlena Skrobe)


November 28, 2015. Batu-Batu, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. Fishermen sell their catch in the market in Batu-Batu, Philippines. (Marlena Skrobe)