Janitor lectures bets on honesty | Inquirer News

Janitor lectures bets on honesty

/ 01:13 AM March 28, 2016

MR. HONESTY Airport janitor Ronald Gadayan shows the awards given to him for honesty by various groups at his house in Norzagaray, Bulacan province. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MR. HONESTY Airport janitor Ronald Gadayan shows the awards given to him for honesty by various groups at his house in Norzagaray, Bulacan province. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

FOR SOME of his friends, he is “bayaning tanga” (foolish hero) for passing up  the many times he could have become instantly richer.

But to a group of businessmen from a Rotary Club, Ronald Gadayan is the type of person election candidates should emulate and look up to.


Gadayan, a 39-year-old janitor assigned to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) since 2012, is known to return lost items as valuable as


P2.4 million to owners without giving it a second thought.

The Rotary Club of Pasay-Sinagtala (District 3810) recently honored him for his honesty.

In front of businessmen, Gadayan talked about how honesty not only to God but also to people could help change the nation.

Over the past years, Gadayan has returned numerous valuables left by passengers at Naia—from a driver’s license with P20, jewelry and gadgets like iPad, iPhones, Apple Mac laptop of a doctor from Philippine General Hospital to $5,000 in cash that an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) left at the men’s comfort room, and pouch with jewelry and cash amounting to P2.4 million left by a Cebu businessman on a chair while awaiting boarding time.

“I am not a religious person. In fact, I don’t often go to church. But for me, being fair and honest not just to people, but most especially to God, is enough,” he said.

“If you are honest to God, everything will follow through,” he added. “You may not be rewarded, but God sees you. And it shall bear fruit at the proper time.”


What the Philippines lacks, according to Gadayan, are honest leaders. “It’s frustrating; there are not many at the top whom people can look up to. Only if the leaders are honest can they demand honest followers,” he said.

‘Mission Possible’

His challenge to the next President: Be honest not only to people, but also to God.

Inspired by a feature about Gadayan’s life aired on ABS-CBN’s “Mission Possible,” the Rotary Club chapter president, Eugene Saludar, was moved into treating the janitor and his family to Ocean Park and giving him a one-night stay in H2O Hotel in Manila.

A week after, the club invited Gadayan and awarded him. “We are looking for people we can be proud of and emulate. I am touched by his honesty. I mean, some of the items he returned are already thrown in garbage cans, but he still returned it,” Saludar said.

Not first time

Gadayan has been rewarded and cited for his honesty a number of times.

He was named “Kahanga-hangang Pinoy” by Manila Jaycee Senate Inc. in San Juan City, outstanding alumnus of Caloocan High School, Spirit of Edsa awardee in 2013, and outstanding citizen by no less than Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in 2012.

Tagle commended Gadayan for “exemplary witnessing to live out the gospel by returning what does not rightfully belong to him, aware that the greatness is not measured in material richness but in service to others, thereby heeding the call of Jesus to live daily in honesty and integrity.”

The province of Bulacan passed a resolution recognizing his honesty in 2013.

Just last month, Gadayan was cited by Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan as one of the city’s outstanding citizens and naming him “Honesto”—a local television character known for honesty.

Recently his life was portrayed in a play titled “#PopePUlar Pano kung Pinoy si Kiko: A Filipino musical,” directed by Vince Tañada. At Adamson University, he was cited as one of the play’s five modern-day heroes whose characters resembled that of Pope Francis.

Spread the message

When visited by the Inquirer at his home in Norzagaray in Bulacan, Gadayan said the certificates he received and his name were the only inheritance he could leave to his children.

“I don’t need rewards; I just hope the good message will be spread,” he said, noting that his supervisor, Edwin Magbitang, granted him a day leave for the interview with the Inquirer to fulfill that “purpose.”

Although still a contractual janitor in Naia and squatting with his wife Rosalie, three children and relatives in Norzagaray and still in debt, Gadayan said he was happy and contented with what he had. “A good name is better than riches,” he tells his children.

“Sometimes, my fellow workers in Naia laugh at me,” he said. “You keep on returning things, but you  get nothing back,” he said, recalling what his co-workers told him.

The janitor said friends had tempted him many times to keep the things he had found.

In 2010, two of his three children were in hospital suffering from dengue. The iPhone left by a passenger could have been “heaven’s answer” to his problem of coming up with the money to pay for the medical bills, his friends told him.

He did not entertain the thought, though. Instead he borrowed money again from the lender to whom he earlier pawned his automated teller machine card. “I just can’t,” he said.


He has fallen victim to hoaxes. He was once told that a politician had pledged to give him a house and lot. The offer was announced on television and radio, prompting his family to go to a subdivision in two jeepneys. There were no house and lot, however.

Another public official from Bulacan announced that he would give Gadayan’s children scholarships. None came, he said.

Empty promises these are, like the promises of politicians during the campaign period, the janitor said.

Some people acknowledged his deed; some did not. Some rewarded him. He received P25,000 from the businessman who left the million peso-bearing pouch and P300 from the OFW who misplaced his $5,000.

Sometimes, domestic helpers he met at the airport telling him that they proudly shared his story with their bosses abroad was enough to brighten his day, Gadayan said.

“It’s enough people outside the country know there are still good people and they are Filipinos.”

Reward or no reward did not matter to him. For him, to know that people were inspired by his actions and that he was able to put a smile on their faces was enough. “I would love it that people will spread the good news,” he told the Inquirer.

“Kindness never stops; it sprouts. The good deed I made happened some years ago, but people are still touched by it. Perhaps they all wanted a hero. An honest one,” he added.

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Gadayan said he had this constant reminder from his parents when they were still alive: “‘Never get anything that is not yours.’ I hope our next President knows and does that, too,” he said.

TAGS: Nation, News, VotePh2016

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