Every year, Rita Rodriguez, 54, would religiously light a candle in the early mornings of All Saints Day in remembrance of her four sons – Noel, Ricky, Materno and Antonio – who died one after the other in a span of two decades.
Cursed, was how people from her hometown of Tanjay in Negros Oriental, thought of Manang Rita. Little did they know that a rare hereditary bleeding disorder called hemophilia was the culprit behind their deaths.
“I would have wanted to go home to Negros to personally visit their graves but life is hard,” said the 54-year-old mother of eight, who has been struggling to keep another son Jeffrey, from falling into the same fate as his older brothers. In between Jeffrey’s confinements, Manang Rita would make ends meet by offering services as masseuse or cleaning houses and doing laundries.
Jeffrey, 25, a psychology student in Adamson University, was diagnosed with hemophilia when he was barely 3-years-old following a supposedly minor injury on the head that caused profuse bleeding. By then, two of Jeffrey’s older siblings had already succumbed to strange internal bleeding episodes. (Jeff, far right with green bag, along with his fellow Sakristans in a local church in Taguig. Hoping for a normal life.)
Manang Rita remembered her older brother, Luis Torres, would also profusely bleed from the smallest injuries. But they did not know that hemophilia runs in their family.