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FACES OF CEBU: Mary Jean Elisio, 47, devotee of Snr. Sto. Niño

FACES OF CEBU: Mary Jean Elisio, devotee of Snr. Sto. Niño

Mary Jean Elisio, 47, a devotee of Snr. Sto. Niño, prepares flowers to be sold just outside the

CEBU CITY, Philippines – It was only in August when Mary Jean Elesio returned to the street right in front of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.

The 47-year-old resident from Barangay Kamputhaw here has been selling flowers in front of the centuries-old church ever since she was a child.

“Magkuyog ko sa akong mama dinhe. Sa una, among tinda pa kaniadto kay sampaguita,” Mary Jean said.

(I used to accompany my mother here to sell flowers. Back then, we were selling sampaguita only.)

Mary Jean, a mother of four children, all of whom are still in high school, was not spared by the economic crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read: FACES OF CEBU: Behtram Dacuma, 26, public school teacher/artist

She and the rest of the flower vendors selling near the vicinity of the Basilica momentarily lost their source of income for around five months. Mary Jean said her family was lucky enough to think of selling bananacues (caramelized bananas on a stick) in their community.

Last August, local authorities in Cebu City allowed them to return to their spots. But even so, Mary Jean’s road to recovery is still a long way to go.

“Sa tulo ka semana sukad nakabalik mi ari, sa tinuuray lang, igo-igo ra among kita sa among kaon ug bayad sa utang,” said Mary Jean.

(We’ve been here for three weeks, and the truth is, what we earn is only enough to pay for our meals and repay our debts.)

Despite the new challenges in her family, Mary Jean looked up to her mother and added that her strength and determination helped her daughter face a crisis with this magnitude.

“Akong mama, tungod lang sa pagpaninda ug buwak, nakapahuman siya sa iyahang mga anak bisag sa high school lang,” Mary Jean said.

(My mother was able to have all of her children finish high school through selling flowers.)

She said her mother was also a devotee to Snr. Sto. Niño, which explains why their family chose to sell flowers in front of the church that houses the original image of the Holy Child bestowed as a gift to Queen Juana nearly 500 years ago.

“Karun, diskarte lang gyud mi ug taman. Di na ta muasa sa tabang sa gobyerno kay daghan kaayo nanginahanglan pero gamay ra gihapon matagaan,” added Mary Jean.

(We have to find ways as best as we can. We no longer rely on help from the government since a lot of us need assistance, but only a few will be provided.)

As she arranged her flowers for sale on Friday afternoon, Mary Jean can’t also help but say: “dako atong kaatubang run, unya di sayun rung panahona pero isangpit perme nako na kay Señor. Basin maluuy Señor, matabang pa ta.”

(We’re facing tough times these days but we should just call out Señor. Maybe he will have pity on us and can help us.) /bmjo

TAGS: Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu, FACES OF CEBU
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