Belize is known to be an artist's paradise because it offers so much unique scenery and diverse flora and fauna. Whether they strive to immortalize the breathtaking landscapes on canvas, write descriptive poetry about its people, or carve lifelike figurines, Belize has much to offer artists searching for inspiration. This week The San Pedro Sun is pleased to feature a young craftsman who has been able to make a living creating exquisite jewelry - Francisco Bernabe Badillo.
Bernabe was born in San Pedro on July 24th, 1967 to Evarista and Bernabe Badillo Sr. (deceased). He grew up among three brothers on this carefree island enjoying the sand, sun and sea. After completing his primary school education, Bernabe joined his older brothers and his father on fishing expeditions, which was the family's main source of income in those days. When Bernabe turned eighteen he was hired as a bartender at the SunBreeze Hotel and worked there for four years. With tourism blossoming, Bernabe next became a certified tour guide and provided visitors with many island and inland tours. In time, he opened a gift shop in a space beneath his parents' house, and began experimenting with black coral and silver as a hobby. Bernabe developed a keen interest in this craft and decided to expand his knowledge of the field. He traveled to Taxco, Guerrero in Mexico where he completed a jeweler's course specializing in silver. Bernabe was determined to learn the trade and studied day and night, enabling him to finish this two-month course in half the time required. He then traveled to Iguala, Mexico where he attended a two-week seminar specializing in gold.
Upon his return to San Pedro, Bernabe began creating wonderful pieces of art using gold, silver and precious stones. He then expanded his business to include customized orders and jewelry repair, besides selling his original jewelry pieces. Over the years Bernabe developed a successful jewelry shop and now supplies other gift shops with his original creations.
Bernabe has also been characterized as an outgoing individual in San Pedro. As a teenager he was an avid member of the San Pedro Leo Club and then went on to become a member of the San Pedro Lions where he "served" with pride. He is presently the Vice-President and Coordinator of the San Pedro Chapter of the Belize Red Cross, Vice-President and Coordinator of the Boca del Rio Neighborhood Watch, and also a member of the Ambergris Caye Traffic Control Committee.
Bernabe told The San Pedro Sun that he enjoys his work thoroughly, just as much as when he volunteers his services to the organizations he belongs to. Nevertheless, he stated that his family comes first. On December 9th, 1996, Bernabe married Elizabeth Baņos and he now enjoys being a father as well, of two children: Bernabe Jr. (10) and Francisco Gill (4).
Today, Bernabe Badillo's talents are sought by many residents and his creations have become wonderful souvenirs for visitors. He continues to improve his skills and says he hopes to expand his business in the near future. Bernabe Badillo is just one more example of the artistic individuals who, through their wonderful creations, make it possible for everyone to take home a "shiny piece" of "Our Community."