Monday, August 11, 2008


By:Virgie Amora
Quiranggol Mission School
December, 2002

“Where’s Cristina? Where’s Cristina! WHERE’S CRISTINAAA!” the father roared one early cold morning waking the whole village up.

“What’s the problem?” my teammate said rising to her feet and rubbing the sleep away from her eyes.

“I don’t know!” I whispered loudly. “We’ll find that out later.”

Twelve-year-old Cristina is one of our brilliant students. She can read fast with good comprehension. She writes us (teachers) letters putting into practice the lessons she learned in school. She can memorize Bible verses easily. She’s a good leader and one we can count on to always be there. She’s one of the excited ones preparing for the Jamboree in March to be held at the SULADS High School site. The children of Quiranggol will be attending a Jamboree for the first time. We told them of the soon coming High School, a day hike from Quiranggol through forest. This she and all the other children in our village are waiting for. Every school child in the village looks forward to the time when he/she can leave the village and attend the secondary school. With high hopes the children pray everyday that God will soon provide funds to put up this long awaited school.

But Christina’s hopes were shattered one day when a chief from a far away village came with a horse. This horse was tied to a post near her house. This gesture means somebody is proposing marriage. To whom? To a girl nearest to where the horse was tied. To refuse the dowry and reject marriage her father would have to produce two horses. But they are too poor to even buy one. To make the matter worse, her father is already indebted to the father of the boy proposing to marry her. And in their poor situation the only way to pay the debt is to give her away as a bride.

She came to me crying. “Ma’am, I don’t want to marry! I don’t want to marry! I still want to attend high school,” she sobbed.

I was caught between. I pitied her but I should not intervene. This is a tribal and family problem. In the seminar, we were reminded by our director not to intervene in this kind of problem. Culture has it that non-Manobos intervening will be implicated in the problem and most likely will be forced to take the place of the bride.

“Cristina,” I encouraged the still sobbing girl, “the only thing I can say is, just tell your problem to the Lord. He will never forsake you. He has promised. He will make a way for you.”

“Ma’am, isn’t there any way for you to help me escape to MVC?” she pleaded.

“If I do that, it will put me into big trouble. If I refuse to take your place, then I could never go home to MVC alive anymore. Don’t you worry my fellow SULADS and I will pray for you.”

“Thank you, Ma’am!” She left wiping her tears away. She told no one but her friend Marlyn of her plan to escape. Then came that tragic morning when Cristina disappeared and stirred the whole village. “Where could she be?” No one knew except Marlyn. Marlyn sometimes would cut classes for no reason at all. She had not been a delinquent before and we couldn’t understand her behavior.

“Marlyn?” I called her attention one day. “Where were you yesterday? You were not in my class.”

“I went somewhere.”

“Where is this somewhere?” I was curious.

“If you will please keep this as a secret, Ma’am, I will tell you.”

“Sure! Yes! You can trust me.”

“I always visit my friend Cristina in the forest. She lives in a small cave and she asked me to bring her some sweet potatoes because she’s afraid of her father. I accompanied her last night and she cried praying for the Lord to help her solve her problem. There was even a time when we saw her father coming, calling her name, but we just hid behind the rock so that we were not seen at all. There were some rainy nights when we just coiled under some leaves and we were amazed that we did not get wet. I have proven now that the GOD of our SULADS teachers is a LIVING GOD!”

The two girls’ hiding in the forest went on for a month. Then one day Marlyn said. “We’re going to MVC, Ma’am. By all means, God will make a way!” she said confidently.

During our reporting time, I brought with me a couple of patients to the German Doctors’ Hospital. My teammate came two days later with Cristina and Marlyn. The patients and the two girls did not meet at MVC so the patients can tell the parents that there was no Cristina at MVC. Today, Cristina and Marlyn are taking refuge at our director’s home at MVC. Pray that the SULADS High School will be started soon to help runaway brides like Cristina get an education. In this way, the parents, and the old folks also, will little by little do away with the destructive parts of their culture.

This high school plan is developing slowly. Aside from providing a haven for would-be brides, this school would fill a need to give further training to the Manobo children so that they can learn a life skill or trade. Further, if they attend this school, they are much less likely to join the rebel NPA (New People’s Army) and leave the Biblical teachings the SULADS have given them.

There is $50,000 in a matching fund to match funds donated for the Manobo High School. Every two dollars collected will be matched by a dollar from this fund. We need $100,000 to have the $50,000 released. The plan is to start this high school as soon as possible using native construction materials that will last only for a couple of years. Something more substantial needs to be provided.

Would you like to assist the SULADS in providing this education for these largely uneducated people? You may send your contributions to the General Conference of SDA. Make the check payable to the General Conference and mark it for “SULADS” for the general operations of the SULADS or “SULADS Academy” for the construction of the High School. Send the check to:

Cynthia Henderson
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904

You will receive a US tax-deductible receipt in a few days. Thank you so much for your continued interest in and support of the SULADS.

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