MANILA -- Cristina Alcaraz almost lost her husband's cash worth $4,800 or around P210,000 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), but thanks to an honest pushcart retriever, the money was immediately returned to her.
Speaking to radio dzMM on Thursday, Alcaraz said the money was sent by her overseas worker husband through his staff, Jovy Escarpio, who went home from Europe on Wednesday.
However, Escarpio forgot about the envelope containing Alcaraz's money after he took it out from his bag and placed it on a baggage pushcart.
Fortunately, the envelope was seen by pushcart retriever Jony Villon, who was assigned at the parking area of the airport's arrival area.
In a separate interview with radio dzMM, Villon said he initially thought that the sealed envelope contained a passport and some documents. But when he tried to feel the contents of the envelope, he realized that it contained money.
Without thinking twice, the 41-year-old Villon immediately took the envelope to the airport's Intelligence and Investigation Division. They then called Alcaraz, whose name and cell phone number were written on the envelope.
He said he was not tempted to keep the money for his own use, noting that he knows the hardships of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).
Villon worked in factories in Taiwan and South Korea for 14 years.
"Hindi po [ako na-tempt]. Kasi unang-una po, ako po ay isang dating OFW. Alam ko po ang hirap sa abroad. Saka hindi ko po pinagpaguran po yun. Talagang sumagi po sa isip ko na kailangang maibalik sa tunay na may-ari," Villon said.
Villon has been a pushcart retriever for 3-and-a-half years now. He earns P466 a day. He has two kids.
According to Alcaraz, she was already on her way to NAIA Terminal 1 to meet Escarpio for the envelope when she received the call from Villon.
"Nagulat ako... Sabi ko 'Ay sige, opo, akin po yan. Paki-keep na lang po at ike-claim ko kung saan ko pwedeng puntahan,'" she told Villon.
Upon arriving at the airport's lost and found section, Alcaraz immediately expressed gratitude to Villon and said: "May mga tao pa palang kagaya mo."
As standard operating procedure, airport authorities conducted an inventory of the envelope's contents in front of Alcaraz. It was only at that time that Villon found out that the package contained 48 pieces of $100 bills.
Alcaraz said the money was for their down payment for a house in Parañaque.
"Nakakataba nga po ng puso kasi hindi man lang nila pinagabalahang buklatin ang laman ng envelope. Kasi siyempre more or less money po ang laman nun. Hindi man lang po nila pinag-interesan na bulatlatin. Basta hinintay po nila ako. Pagdating ko, saka namin binuksan ang laman ng envelope para i-check kung kumpleto, kung tama ba ang laman," she said.
"Taos-puso akong nagpapalsalamat sa iyo talaga ulit. Mabuhay ka at ang iyong pamilya. Sana mas dumami pa ang taong kagaya mo," she said of Villon.
Villon, for his part, said he is also grateful for the reward Alcaraz gave to him after he returned the money.
"Kinamayan po ako ni Ma'am Cristina at may laman pong isang libo. Pinang-merienda po namin... Hindi naman po ako humihingi ng kapalit," he said.
Now that his good deed has earned him several praises, with some people even giving him cash, Villon said: "Parang hindi po ako makapaniwala. Hanggang ngayon parang lumilipad yung utak ko. Para akong nasa langit."