Life can be so cruel at times. More often than not, plenty of childhood dreams can fall right out of the sky despite our best efforts to pursue them. A couple of years ago, we were met by this exact story wrapped up in Tatay Alfredo Manuel’s life.
Growing up, Tatay Alfredo didn’t have the same luxury the rest of us did. He was forced to stop in college just a few months before the graduation day because he failed to pay the school fees. In order to earn money, he worked as a janitor in F. Maria Guerrero Elementary School in Sta. Ana, Manila.
But he longed for more. He wanted to stand inside the classroom, holding chalk instead of a broom. So, he went back to school and was able to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Education from University of the East-Manila. He even passed the LET teachers’ board exam and civil service exam back in 1992.
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But fate had its own funny way of crushing Tatay Alfredo’s dream. Just when he thought that he was just inches away from becoming a teacher, he failed. The school he was previously employed as a janitor turned down his application to be part of the faculty, because he had a pending offense at the school.
“Ginawa ko lahat sa school na ‘yun, ako na yung pinakamasipag na janitor at naging apple of the eye ng principal.. Pero kinainggitan ako ng mga kasamahan ko at siniraan ako. Ginawan ako ng storya na nagnakaw daw ako ng pondo ng school. Tinanggal ako.”
He didn’t give up without a fight though. He kept on applying in the same school for five years. But the school’s decisions never favored him. He also tried his luck in Manila Science High School, and Roxas High School, but when news about his pending theft case reached both schools, they also turned him down.
With all the schools turning their backs to him, Tatay Alfredo was forced to become a scavenger instead.
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For years, students around Taft new him as a scavenger genius. He was always seen with a bag of plastics in one hand and a book in the other.
In an article written by Rachel C. Barawid entitled “Teacher Scavenger,”, Tatay Alfredo shared that his only remaining dream was to travel the world.
“Pangarap ko lang ngayon, kung magkaroon ako ng pera ay magpamigay. You have to share. Gusto ko ring mag-abroad at makita yung places na pinag-aralan ko sa mga libro, the Parthenon of Greece, Phoenix in Egypt, Eiffel Tower, Colosseum of Rome, Zaragosa, Spain. After that, puwede na siguro ako mamatay.”
According to recent sources, Tatay Alfredo could no longer be seen roaming on the streets of Taft. One Facebook user said that upon contacting him, they found out that he was involved in an accident in 2016 that left him disabled.
As of writing, there are no sources that can point to his current whereabouts.
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