With Love


I was lurking in Bianca Gonzales' blog, reading about random acts of kindness when I saw this in the Taga UP Diliman ka kung...  Facebook group. It may be late, but I just had to share it. It really made me cry. I really have this soft spot for the maintenance staff in school, especially the old ones and those who have lent their service to the school for a long time.

"Meet Meliton Zamora, a retired University of the Philippines janitor and my hero.

For  forty-five years, he swept floors, cleaned up trash, watered plants and did odd jobs at the University.

I met him when I was active with the UP Repertory Company, a theater group based (then) at the third floor lobby of the Arts & Sciences (AS) building. He would sweep and mop the hallway floors in silence, venturing only a nod and a smile whenever I passed him.

Back then, for me he was just one of those characters whom you got acquainted with and left behind  as soon as you earned your degree and left the university for some  big job in the real world. Someone whose name would probably ring a bell but  whose face you'd have a hard time picturing.  But for many UP students like me who were hard up and had a difficult time paying their tuition fees, Mang Mel was a hero who gave them the opportunity  to finish university and get a big job in the real world.

The year was 1993 and I was on my last semester as a Clothing Technology student. My parents had been down on their luck  and were struggling to pay for my tuition fee. I had been categorized as Bracket 9 in the recently implemented Socialized Tuiton and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). My father had lost his job and to supplement my allowance, I worked part time as a Guest Relations Officer at Sam's Diner (back when the term GRO didn't have shady undertones) and took some odd jobs as a Production Assistant, movie extra and wardrobe mistress.

To be eligible for graduation, I had to enroll in my last three courses  and pay my tuition fee.  Since my parents didn't have enough money for my matriculation, I applied for a student loan hoping that my one of my Home Economics (HE) professors would take pity on me and sign on as a guarantor for the student loan. But those whom I approached either refused  or were not eligible  as  guarantors.  After two unsuccessful weeks of looking for a guarantor, my prospects looked dim, my future dark.  And so, there I was, a downtrodden twenty year old with a foggy future, crying in the AS lobby. I only had twenty four hours left to look for a guarantor.

Mang Mel, with a mop in hand, approached me and asked me why I was crying. I told him I had no guarantor for my student loan and will probably not be able to enroll this semester. I had no hopes that he would be able to help me. After all, he was just a janitor. He borrowed my loan application papers and said softly, "Puwede ako pumirma. Empleyado ako ng UP." He borrowed my pen and signed his name. With his simple act of faith, Mang Mel not only saved my day, he also saved my future.

I paid my student loan the summer after that fateful day with Mang Milton and it has been 15  years since then.  I am not filthy rich but I do have a good job in the real world that allows me to support my family and eat three meals a day.  A few weeks  ago, a friend and UP Professor, Daki, told me that Mang Mel recently recorded an album which he sells to supplement  his meager retirement pay, I asked another friend, Blaise, who's taking his Master's degree at UP  to  find out how we could contact Mang Mel. My gesture of gratitude for Mang Mel's altruism has been long overdue. As fate would have it, my friend  saw Mang Mel  coming out of the shrubbery from behind the UP library, carrying firewood.  He got Mang Mel's address and promised him that we would come over to buy his album.

Together with Blaise and my husband Augie, I went to pay Mang Mel a visit last Sunday. Unfortunately, he was out doing a little sideline gardening for a UP professor in Tandang Sora.
We were welcomed into their home by his daughter Kit.  As she pointed out to a laminated photo of Mang Mel on the wall, she proudly told us that her father did retire with recognition from the University. However, she sadly related to us that many of the students whose loans Mang Mel guaranteed neglected to settle their student loans. After forty-five years of service to the University, Mang Mel was only attributed 171 days of work for his retirement pay because all the unpaid student loans were deducted from his full retirement pay of about 675 days.  This seems to me a cruel repayment for his kindness.
This is a cybercall to anyone who did not get to pay their student loans that were guaranteed by  Mang  Mel.  Anytime would be a good time to show Mang Mel your gratitude.
Mang Mel is not asking for a dole out, though I know he will be thankful  for any assistance you can give. So I ask those of you who also benefited from Mang Meliton's goodness or for those who simply wish to share your blessings, please do visit Mang Mel and buy his CD (P350 only) at No. 16-A, Block 1, Pook Ricarte, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City (behind UP International House)  or contact his daughter Kit V. Zamora at 0916-4058104."

lifted  from Mike Rivera's multiply entry.

The response of the journal entry has been overwhelming. Mang Mel even got featured on Wish Ko Lang!, a show on GMA-7. This just goes to show that an act of kindness goes a long way.

I hope you got touched by the story as much as I did. :-)
Have a blessed Sunday everyone!


  1. This post made me teary-eyed. I'd like to share this if you'd allow me. My BF is an alumni of UP maybe he knows him and could buy a few CDs to help his retirement. Thanks for checking out my corner. I'm your new follower babe! =)

  2. diba, nakakatouch? :')

    thanks for following love! :-)

  3. Hi Farrah, thanks so much for dropping by my blog :)
    wow. this is so touching. but, its just sad to know what happened to mang mel. even though I have graduated from my elem/hs school years ago, I can still clearly remember most of the janitors. just like our teachers, they also became a part of our life. hindi basta-basta ang ganuong trabaho and we know very well that they don't get paid enough compared to professionals. hopefully, mang mel will somehow receive a hand out of those whom he helped.

  4. Hey Tessa! yeah that's true, that's why I always try to be extra nice to them. :-) and yes, I'm from Davao too :)

  5. farrah how can i help? i have a friend in UP Dil as of the moment.. maybe he can buy some cds for me.. im not from UP pero natouch ako.. thanks for getting back to me.

  6. @tina hi, try texting the number there in the post to contact Mang Mel. you can also read the recent updates in Mike Rivera's multiply. I posted the link there also. Aww, that's really nice of you to want to help :-)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...