I cannot help but ask myself about how we have been raising our three children upon hearing the story of honesty of one domestic helper and her tricycle driver husband.
The story of Mildred Perez-Boden, the 38-year-old honest overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Hong Kong who returned an envelope containing HK$350,545 or about P2.1-million to its owner despite being jobless, serves as an example to many Filipinos.
Not expecting any reward, she was grateful of the box of biscuits the owner of the money gave to her as an expression of gratitude.
A few months earlier hundreds of miles away, her husband Eddie Boden, also returned a bag containing P20,000 to his passenger who left the money in his tricycle in Nueva Vizcaya. He was given P10 by the bag’s owner for his fare.
They have an honest family whom their two teenage children can be truly proud of, indeed.
Mildred received the Ulirang Bagong Pilipino Award when she went home last month. She is a native of Sitio Anao, Barangay Aliaga in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya who was forced to resort to scavenging for empty bottles and plastics to survive in Hong Kong. She had been a domestic helper when her Taiwanese employer assaulted her sexually forcing her to drop her work and file a case against her employer.
Hong Kong laws stipulate that a person who files a case in court cannot work pending resolution of the case leaving Mildred jobless for several months.
While doing her daily scrounging, Mildred found on a pile of trash the $176,000 cash in denominations of $1,000 and four checks of various amounts. She found the money stuffed in a small packet in a garbage bin on the corner of Pottinger Street and Des Voeux Road in Hong Kong and returned it immediately after contacting the owner on May 29.
Calling her the “face of a true Filipino”, Brother Eddie Villanueva of the Bagong Pilipinas, Bagong Pilipino Movement, said: “Her inspiring story has captured the imagination of a generation that is seemingly getting used to the marketing pitch that living a good life simply means seeking personal aggrandizement and serving self-vested interests.”
Villanueva exalted Mildred in a simple ceremony citing her “one act of honesty amidst adversity” as a validation of the “innate nobility of Filipinos.”
Indeed, Filipinos have been honest since time immemorial. Obscured by time, there had been testimonies by merchants on board Chinese junks at the turn of the 17th century who entrusted their goods to unknown people to bring and sell their products all over the islands.
A Spanish edict prohibited the Chinese merchants from entering the country that the role of selling the goods was assigned to the Filipinos. These unknown Filipinos had been returning to the port exactly a year the goods were entrusted to them to pay back the Chinese merchants the exact amount they agreed upon – without signed papers – at specified time.
This honesty we learned from our ancestors was handed down to every generation that Mildred and Eddie have been, in turn, teaching their own children, as well.
May our tribe increase.