“They are angels in our midst.”
This was how Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado described four airport workers who returned money and other valuables left behind by passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
“This February alone, we have multiple recoveries reported to us. This is truly heartwarming. We are very happy that the culture of honesty is very much alive at Naia. These ‘angels’ are our source of pride,” Honrado told reporters on Tuesday.
In the latest incident that took place on Feb. 8 at Naia Terminal 3, Rodileen de la Vega, a building attendant, found a black wallet on top of the utility shelf inside one of the toilet cubicles.
She called her work partner, Mina Ilagan, and asked her to call for another witness. Together, they brought the wallet to the Airport Police Department (APD) outpost for proper turnover and to check the owner, who was later identified as Maksim Pantaleev.
The wallet, which contained peso and US dollar bills with a total value of around P60,000, was later claimed by Pantaleev.
Three more recoveries were reported to the Miaa earlier this month.
On Feb. 2, Ronnie Oquendo, a member of the Miaa job order personnel, found a black pouch containing P96,000 in cash that was left behind by the then Bacolod City-bound Lucebar Tajan inside a toilet also at Terminal 3. Oquendo turned over the pouch to the APD’s lost-and-found section.
Tajan was contacted thanks to an identification card belonging to his wife Arsenia, which was also found in the pouch. The couple were already in Bacolod when reached by Naia officials.
Tajan flew back to Manila the following day to get the pouch, and gave Oqueno a token of the couple’s gratitude.
“We are going to use the money for the treatment of our child who is sick. We commend Mr. Oquendo for his honesty,” Tajan later told reporters.
On Feb. 6, Mark Joven Aquino, a service crew member of Little Vin Vin cafeteria at Terminal 2, found a brown leather vest on one of the seats of the restaurant, with one of the pockets containing some P66,000 in cash. The vest and the money were returned to the owner that same day.
On Feb. 7, Richard Baybayon, a messenger-janitor of the Bank of Commerce branch at Terminal 1, found a brown clutch bag on top of the bank counter. The bag contained cash in different currencies, two silver bracelets, a digital camera, a mobile phone and a British passport belonging to Alan Bernard Stephens.
Stephens, a 59-year-old banker then on vacation in the country, realized he had lost his bag when was already in a cab going to his hotel.
The tourist went back to Naia with little hope of getting his bag back—and was surprised to find it in the lost-and-found section.
“My God, you people are really amazing! For that amount I knew that the finders would think twice about returning it, but you airport people are wonderful. Thank you very much,” an APD staff member quoted the Briton as saying.
Honrado said he would gather the honest airport employees in the monthly flag ceremony next month to formally honor them. Airport employees who had received praise for similar deeds in the past were given plaques of appreciation and bonuses.