A balut vendor and his invalid daughter

Jewelyn Nganiar is five years old.

Jewelyn Nganiar is five years old.

She was born normal, Rolando Nganiar, 31, says over and over again. When she was seven months old she got sick and was comatose for two months. She woke up, but she has never smiled since then.
“The virus went to her brain,” Rolando says. She is not comatose, but she will be an invalid for the rest of her life. She is fed from a tube, because she cannot do anything for herself. Rolando, a former janitor and now a balut vendor, went to the Senate to ask for a stroller for his daughter. He brought Jewelyn all the way from Bulacan.
Her mother died at childbirth, and now her maternal grandmother cares for her when he’s out selling balut. He quit his job to sell balut and fish instead, Rolando says. He makes about P300 a day when he’s lucky, “hindi pa po kasama ang pinagbentahan ko ng isda.”
Hasn’t he considered giving her up for adoption? Rolando says he has asked some nuns, but they told him he couldn’t visit again. He dropped the idea. Now he’s asking for a stroller instead, for his five-year-old jewel, who will never talk or smile at him.


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