Then, in 2008 Rodilyn became pregnant. Given her tiny stature and her limited lung capacity her pregnancy had to be carefully monitored. She would definitely need a cesarean delivery and, in her instance, that operation would require four doctors. Her generous doctors offered their services for free, and the Subanen Crafts project was able to cover her hospital and medicine bills. Thank God her operation went well and on March 16, 2009 Rodilyn gave birth to a healthy baby girl. We all rejoiced.
Three months later, while I was shopping for craft supplies in Manila, I received an urgent call from Rodilyn. Her 16-year old brother Crisanto, who was living with her, had been catapulted off the top of a moving jeepney that was taking him home after school. (In rural areas where public transport is limited it is a common practice for high school boys to ride on the top of passenger vehicles so that others might ride inside.) Crisanto was seriously injured and Rodilyn was deeply frightened. He was taken to the nearest emergency hospital more than 3 hours away.
Long into the night I prayed as I waited for more news from Rodilyn. I turned on the TV; Michael Jackson had just died. Then, in the middle of the night, Rodilyn called to say that Crisanto had died. Her voice was full of tears. Crisanto had broken his back as well as his skull in the fall. There was nothing that the doctors could have done.
by: Vincent Busch, July 2009
Life opened up for Rodilyn. With income from her work, she was able to finish high school, to take college courses, and, eventually, to get married.
Rodilyn had found a more fulfilling life. But she had to overcome more than poverty. Rodilyn was born with kyphoscoliosis, a debilitating spinal condition that bowed her back and stunted her growth. She could not walk until she was 5 years old. As she aged her spinal condition worsened and began to restrict her lungs and her breathing capacity. Rodilyn could die of a common cold.
In 2000 Rodilyn Balido was 16 years old and living in a remote mountain barrio in Mindanao. Rodilyn, like many Subanens her age, had to stop her schooling to help her family survive. To make a few pennies she sold root crops and pieces of fruit. One market day Rodilyn met Carla Clarke, a Columban Lay Missionary from Britain. Carla and Rodilyn became close friends and in the process of their friendship Carla became aware of Rodilyn's skill in weaving beautiful beaded bracelets. Carla introduced me to Rodilyn and I too marveled at her beading skill.I wondered. Could a livelihood project help Rodilyn and other Subanen artisans craft a better future?
And so it happened.Rodilyn, her sister Jovie, her sister-in-law Marcelita, and Marcelita's sister Andonie combined their crafting skills in a new parish-sponsored livelihood project called Subanen Crafts. Through their association with this project they could now market their skillful work.
Crisanto was a trainee in the Subanen Crafts project and the money he earned paid for his schooling. Like his sister Rodilyn, Crisanto was a gifted artisan.
When I returned to Mindanao I made an album for his family of the photos I had taken of Crisanto during a recent training session. In that training session Crisanto made Christmas cards in which he skillfully inlaid images of Mary holding Jesus. When I look upon that Madonna and Child image I remember the joyful and the tragic stories surrounding that first Christmas. Those stories continue today. When I think of Rodilyn holding her new born babe I feel the joyful coming of Emanuel. When I think of Crisanto I feel the tragic death of a Holy Innocent.
Rodilyn and Crisanto with their parents Pablo and Rafaela
Rodilyn and baby Jesabel with V. Busch