Philippine economy

Celebrating ‘katapatan’ – integrity over money

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It’s easy to answer when the question is theoretical. But when people are faced with more money than they ever imagined, that’s when their values and characters are tested.

MANILA, Philippines – What would you do if you found P1 million and no one else saw that you found it?

Different people will give different answers. Some will say they’ll return it while others will be ‘more practical’ and say they’ll take the money.

It’s easy to answer when the question is theoretical. But when people are faced with more money than they ever imagined, that’s when their values and characters are tested.

Take it from these Tapat Ambassadors. They had the chance to have ‘better’ lives but they chose the road less taken. They chose honesty over money.

Tapat na Bata: Gustin Laude

HOPE OF THE FUTURE. 12-year old Gustin Laude did not think twice on returning the huge amount of money he found while picking garbage. His honesty and truthfulness is proof of the Filipino people's good moral and strong character. Photo from TBWA.

Gustin is a 12-year-old garbage collector from San Jose,Bulacan. He came from a poor family that could barely makes ends meet.

His life changed one afternoon when he picked a bag with P300,000 cash. Instead of keeping the money for his family’s welfare, Gustin’s immediate thought was to return the money to its rightful owner.

Nung nakita ko yung bag, gusto ko po agad isauli iyon sa may-ari…hindi naman po kasi sa akin iyon eh,” Gustin said.(When I saw the bag, I wanted to return it to the rightful owner because it’s not mine.)

Gustin went to a junk shop to have the money counted. After consulting with his parents, he went to the barangay hall to return the money.

Gustin was jeered by his friends and classmates. He was called impractical for choosing to be tapat.

Sabi po nila, huwag na isauli para po may pangtulong sa pag-aaral ko po…sabi ko po huwag na lang, isauli na lang,” Gustin maintained.

(My friends told me to not return the money so I can use it for my education. I put my foot down and said I wanted to return it.)

According to Gustin, he learned to be tapat from his teachers.

Nung nalaman po nila yung ginawa ko, natuwa po sila…tinawag po nila akong batang tapat,” Gustin said. (When my teachers learned what I did, they were very happy…they called me an honest kid.)

The 12-year-old dreams of becoming a soldier. When asked why, he answered, “Para po matulungan yung mga tao.” (So that I can help people.)

Because of his act of honesty, Gustin received so much more than the amount he could have kept. He received a college scholarship and monetary rewards from different groups honoring his integrity. He was also featured in a short feature film last 2012.

Gustin said other children should also be honest and truthful.“Huwag…magnakaw. Huwag pong kunin ang hindi sa kanila,” he advised. (Don’t steal. Don’t get anything that’s not theirs.)

Gustin’s example show that katapatan can be imbibed regardless of age and background and that it is passed on through the good examples of adults. The question is, are we setting good examples of katapatan to our kids or to those younger than us? Perhaps, we should follow Gustin’s exemplary katapatan with money.

Tapat sa Serbisyo: Jennifer Doroga

HONESTY, MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES. Jennifer Doroga's honesty is world-class. When this NAIA janitress found a large amount of money while doing her chores, she immediately surrendered it to the authorities. She says the challenges she face in life never go in the way of her principles. Photo from TBWA.

Thousands of people work at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Of the many employees at work, there is one who stood out as an example of honesty and dedication to service above all else.

No, it’s not the airport manager. It’s Jennifer Doroga, a simple janitress in terminal 1.

The 33-year old janitress had been working in NAIA for 7 years. On April 2012, she returned a plastic bag full of different currencies amounting to P1.2 million. Despite her financial needs at the time, it never crossed her mind to go home with the money.

Noong time na iyon talagang nangangailangan ako ng perapero hindi ko talaga naisip na angkinin kasi hindi naman talaga akin iyon. Noong naisip kong pera iyon, sinurrender ko agad sa customs officer,” Jennifer said.

(I really needed money that time but it never thought of keeping the money because it’s not mine. When I realized that the bag was full of money, I surrendered it to the customs officer.)

Despite growing up in an underprivileged family, Jennifer maintained that her parents taught her well.

Role model ko…yung nanay ko. Siya nagtuturo sa akin kungano dapat gawin. Siya nagturo ng mabuting asal,” Jennifer  added. (My mom is my role model. She taught me to do the right thing. She taught me good manners.)

Jennifer admitted that she almost regretted returning the money especially with the jeers from some of her workmates.

Nung mga time na may mga nagjo-joke sa akin kung bakit sinauli ko pa…minsan naiisip ko rin kung bakit sinauli ko pa gayung gumawa ka na ng kabutihan ginaganun ka pa. Iniisip ko na lang na tine-test lang nila reaction ko,” Jennifer said.

(People would joke and ask why I returned the money. Sometimes, I wonder why I get jeered at for doing what is seemingly the right thing. I just tell myself that these people want to see my reaction.)

Jennifer said that her katapatan draws from her love of her family and her work.

Mahal ko ang trabaho ko. Ako rin ang inaasahan sa pamilya naming kaya pinagbubutihan ko trabaho ko,” Jennifer added. (I love my work. I am the breadwinner of my family that’s why I do my best in my work.)

Jennifer’s small act of honesty created ripples of change in the airport.

Nung nagawa ko iyon, marami nang sumunod na nagsasauli… Ako yung naging huwaran nila,” Jennifer said. (When I returned the money, other employees in the airport started following. They said that I was their example.)

Jennifer received various recognition and awards for her actions. All this, according to her, cannot be topped by the peace of mind she gained for returning the money.

Epekto sa akin yung nakakatulog ako ng maayos. Yung walang bumabagabag sa akin,” Jennifer added. (The biggest effect of my act is that I can sleep soundly at night. That nothing bothers me.)

The janitress said that a lot of Filipinos embody katapatan in their daily lives. She believed that the spirit of katapatan lives in the Filipino.

Marami akong kasamahan na tapat na hindi lang nae-expose.Kung baga, hindi lang ako ang unang pagkakataon na nagsauli.Marami na rin naman,” Jennifer said. (I have many co-workers who are also honest, it’s just that they are not given the exposure. I’m not the first and only person who returned something. There are many of us.)

She added, “Ang katapatan ay nasa tao. Kapag tapat ka, meron pang maipapalit sa’yo na mas marami pa doon.” (Honesty is intrinsic to the person. When you are honest, something better will always return to you.)

Jennifer set the bar for service and honesty in NAIA. Her act of honesty proves that katapatan has a domino effect – once it is done by one person, it can immediately be emulated and reciprocated by others.

She also showed that being tapat in one’s profession is important as it shows the degree of effort one puts in it.

Are we being examples of katapatan in our own communities? Are we creating ripples of change?

Tapat sa Trabaho: Jaime Mayor

RIDE OF HIS LIFE. Jaime Mayor admits that he will never earn the amount of money he found in his kalesa. Yet, he still returned it to his French passengers. His example proves that the Philippines is a great tourist destination not only because of its beautiful islands but because of its amiable people. Photo from TBWA.

Mamatay na ako sa trabaho namin hindi pa ako makakahawak ng ganun kalaking pera pero okay lang. Ibinalik ko pa rin.” (I will die in my work but I’ll never be able to hold that much money. But it’s okay, I still returned it.)

This is what Jaime Mayor said regarding his act of honesty. Last September 10, 2012, the 48-year-old kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) driver of Luneta Park returned the wallet of a French tourist. The wallet contained 4,000 euros.

Jaime said the decision was a hard one especially with people telling him to keep the money. His love for his work, however, prevailed.

Maraming nag-udyok sa akin noon (na itago yung pera). Ibibigay ko sa may-ari kasi mahal ko rin ang trabaho ko,” Jaime added.

(A lot of people told me to just keep the money. I will return this to the owner because I love my job.)

Jaime felt that he couldn’t keep the money because he wanted to become an example to his family.

Trabaho ko yunang bumubuhay sa pamilya ko eh. Araw-araw kong ginagawa yan eh…Kailangan ang pinapakain ko sa…pamilya ko hindi galing sa masamang gawain,” he said. (My job keeps my family alive. I do it every day. I cannot feed my family with money taken from evil deeds.)

Jaime said that he learned honesty from his father, who also used to be a kalesa driver. “Nung kutsero yung tatay ko,marami ring naiiwan sa kanya. Ibinibalik din niya. Iyon itinuro sa akin ng mga magulang ko,” he maintained. (When my dad was a kalesa driver, a lot of things also get left behind in his carriage. He always returns what he finds. That’s what he taught me.)

According to Jaime, Filipinos should embody katapatan so that tourists will think greatly of Filipinos. He said his act had proven so. “Para babalik sa atin yung mga ganung tao, maging tapat tayo sa kanila. Para kapag ikuwenento tayo sa…bansa nila, ang Pilipino…mga taong may magandang kalooban,” Jaime said.

(We should be honest so that tourists will go back to us. So that when they talk about Filipinos in their own countries, they’ll say that we are kind-hearted people.)

Malaking tulong ang nangyari sa akin at hindi ko in-expect ito eh,” he added. (What happened afterwards helped me a lot, I wasn’t expecting it.)

Jaime encouraged his co-workers to follow his examples. According to him, this is a small step to improve the tourism in the Philippines.

Huwag natin pagsamantalahan yung mga turistang dumarayo dito sa Pilipinas para maikuwento tayo sa ibang bansa,” he added. (Let’s not abuse the tourists who go to the Philippines so that we’ll be renowned in the world as honest people.)

As Jaime’s example shows, katapatan does not only affect our lives and the lives of those around us. Eventually, it affects our nation. Our small acts of katapatan prove that Filipinos are world-class because they give good service and are honest.

Upholding integrity when nobody’s looking

The experiences of Gustin Laude, Jennifer Doroga and Jaime Mayor show the katapatan that Filipinos embody when faced with the lure of money. It is easy to do acts of katapatan when people see it. But when no one sees the act, do we still become honest and true?

Perhaps, that is the challenge that these three Tapat ambassadors posted – how to stay tapat when it is not the norm. Their experiences tell the story of many Filipinos who stay true to their principles despite the hardships that they encounter.–

Watch out for more inspiring stories from the Tapat Ambassadors this coming week. 

Join us for a Social Media Conversation on being Tapat on July 10. Use #TapatAko and share with us the stories that inspire you most. 

See the heartwarming story of the lawyer who drove taxis to put himself through law school on July 12. 

Be inspired by the dedication of a 71-year-old teacher from Culion, Palawan on July 26. 

We’ll be posting quotable quotes from these exemplary individuals on Instagram starting July 26. Follow @rappler on Instagram.

To find out more information about the Tapat Summit awardees visit

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