17 October 2009

Worker Returns PhP 15 M

Lark Michael B. Colegado with wife and kid
GMANews.TV reported that a Filipino worker who returned a huge amount of money he found in northern Saudi Arabia to its rightful owner has become an instant celebrity among fellow expatriates.

The new hero is Lark Michael B. Colegado, a 34-year-old family man from Tacloban and Misamis Oriental in the southern Philippines, who works as an automated teller machine (ATM) maintenance technician for Al-Hamrani Universal in Jeddah.

In an interview, Colegado narrated that he was sent to the northern city of Tabuk last week to do preventive maintenance and fix an offline ATM because his Pakistani colleague responsible for the place was on vacation.

At an ATM located in a gasoline station, he was looking for a place to seat to do his work when he saw a small box beside the machine. When he checked, he found that there was money inside the box.

Without hesitation, he called his superior, who then informed officials of a bank that owned the ATM. Bank officials found that the box contained 1.2 million riyals or 15 million Philippine pesos.

He said he informed his Pakistani helper of his find and he immediately sent an e-mail to his superior to inform him about the money.

In an e-mail to Colegado, his managers said they were proud of having an honest person in their team and thanked him for doing the right thing. He said he was promised not just an appreciation letter but also a 'bonus.'

Colegado asked media people who interviewed him not to identify the bank, saying he has made a commitment to his superiors to keep the information confidential.

Word of what he did, however, spread like wildfire among members of the Filipino community.

During a get-together at the Laparilla Restaurant in Jeddah, leaders of different various organizations came to marvel at Colegado, and some in the audience said what he did was a feat not easy to duplicate.

"What Colegado did is very timely. At this time when we have lots of compatriots facing financial problems in this country, here comes a man returning a very big amount of money he found with no regret," said community leader Jauhari Usman, a past president of Kasapi Congress.

"Honestly speaking the huge amount is really tempting. If it was somebody else who found that money, I do not know if it would have been returned. What Colegado did is really admirable and it boosts my morale as a Filipino," Usman added.

Rudy Castro, chairman of Overseas Filipino Workers Cooperative Council (OFWCC), said: “It is worthy to note that in spite of the very bad situation in our country, there are still people like Colegado doing a great thing. It is really an honor for all of us as Filipinos to show to the world that we are a trustworthy people, notwithstanding the problems being caused by some of out kabayan."

Joey Villanueva, chairman of Jeddah chapter of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, said in remarks addressed to Colegado: "We are proud of you and in behalf of PICPA and the Filipinos here in Jeddah, we congratulate you. Your honesty shines in spite of the flood left by Ondoy and Pepeng ... I’m proud to be Filipino because of you."

Gina Casino of Hawak Kamay group said Colegado "makes us proud once again to be a Filipino; what you have done is more than heroism."

Omar Salvacion of SAM Foundation described Colegado as a fine example, and Ricky Guiang of Metrobank wished many more Filipinos would emulate his great act.

Consul Leo Tito Ausan Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General said in a telephone interview that Colegado’s "heroism will boost the morale of the Filipinos not only in Saudi Arabia but around the globe."

In an interview, Colegado said he was touched and inspired by the community response to what he did.

"I’m very happy, I am proud that in spite of the huge amount it did not come to my mind of taking this opportunity to take something that did not belong to me," said Colegado, who has a lone daughter with his wife, who works at the Saudi German Hospital inJeddah.

"I could have been richer if I kept that money but I was raised by my family to be an honest person so it did not enter my mind, although I was really scared when I found that box," he told GMANews.TV.

"My parents raised me to be a good and a God-fearing person I am not perfect as nobody is perfect but I'm very happy for what I did not only to me but for my family and for God," he added.