I can proudly say that people, or at least us students here in my university, nowadays have come a long way from ignoring and belittling those working as janitors and security guards to giving them and their jobs the level of respect they deserve. We have learned the importance of returning their smiles and greetings. It wasn’t just to make us feel good about ourselves for being a little kinder to our fellow human beings, but more of to make themselves feel a little bit more appreciated, to brighten up their days with our appreciative smiles and attention, and make work more enjoyable and less mundane for them. And so, I guess the next challenge from acknowledging and returning their smiles and hello’s is actually taking the moment to slow down, stop, and actually know how they came to be the cheerful service-oriented people we grew accustomed to passing by and greeting everyday.
Everybody has a story to tell, and all we have to do is to take the time to listen and see how all of our lives intersect in a way that all of us can impart at least a lesson or two to the people we meet. I chose to interview Mr. Resty who is probably the most well-known and loved security guard inside the campus. He has a knack of making students’ bad days instantly turn around with just his simple “Good morning, Ma’am” or “Good morning, sir!” accompanied by a warm sincere smile.
Mr. Resty was born on November 11, 1982, in Alabang, Muntinlupa. He is the middle child of five children. Growing up, they kept on moving to different places, which was one of the reasons why his family couldn’t settle down for a stable life for them to grow up in. His father who only relied on luck by participating in cockfights and his mom who didn’t really know any work other than farming were the reasons why they used to have only salt, rice, and water for every meal. His dad winning a cockfight would mean that they’d have food for that day, so they always wait for him by the window, but more often than not, their dad wouldn’t even go home for a week.
This forced Mr. Resty, at the age of eight, to find ways to help his family survive. He would go to the rich people’s houses near their area and garden their plants for them for some cash and food. Some were nice but there were also some who wouldn’t pay him afterwards with the 20 pesos, which was surely nothing for the rich. Some would trick him by saying “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” but didn’t really do so.
This led him to climbing the trees and harvesting the fruits without the owners’ consent. Sometimes he and his brother would also go to a store and one of them will distract the vendor while the other would steal some of the food in that store. According to him, those were all probably brought about by poverty. Everyone’s need and want to survive drive them to do bad things to be able to do so. Some criticize the poor for not working hard, but according to Mr. Resty, there are cases when they work hard but the employers would mistreat them or wouldn’t pay them the right amount just because they’re uneducated and gullible. And what we have to understand is that the poor lose trust and hope easily. They’ve gone through so much hardship that it’s really easy for them to just give up on life.
At school, he really found a hard time to listen and pass, so he repeated grade one a number of times. He’d always find himself staring blankly at the teacher. He couldn’t take a grasp of what the teacher was teaching mainly because of the lack of nutrients and vitamins going to his brain and juggling going to school and finding ways to get through his everyday life. He used to believe that life was just so simple and everyone would just eventually die in the end.
For him, students should really be supported by their parents. He can’t blame his parents though because it was really hard to raise five children without having a stable job. However, if there’s one thing that he resented his parents for, it’s for not thinking about them when they chose to have five children. Parents should really think twice if they can raise their children well—to be able to give them a good life—or else in the end, it’s not just the parents who will suffer but also their kids, and this is unfair to the children. They came to this world not knowing what life was like and it’s really pitiful that they have to grow up in a harsh environment brought about by poverty. Kuya Resty encourages people to be practical—to take a look at the repercussions in the future before making decisions. Even some priests and Catholics understand the importance of birth control because for Kuya Resty, it’s not really against the teachings of God but more of being selfless by not giving birth to a human being only for him/her to grow up in a life full of hatred and suffering.
He asks this question to these parents: What future can you give them? You think your kids will be the ones to alleviate you from poverty, but you’re wrong. You should be the ones giving your children a good life, not the other way around. If you fail to raise them well by not giving them the good life they deserve, you’re only bringing them down with you and your failures.
At the age of 15, he once thought of ending his life to end the misery. He attempted to hang himself to death but chickened out because “it hurt hehe,” so he decided to just get killed in the process of wasting his life away by picking up fights or doing bad things with his peers. He just gave himself until the age of 25 at most to live. He had nothing to work hard for, to look forward to, to live happily for.
However, the fact that they moved from different place to different places fortunately didn’t give him a permanent set of friends who were all bad influences to him. According to him, it helped him not fully fall into doing bad things. Going through high school, there came a point when he’d choose to make friends with the kind and quiet ones because he realized that he’d always get into conflicts when he’s with the naughty ones. This wasn’t enough for him to change for the better though.
He believes that a person will really grow up to be bad when exposed to poverty and the environment he grew up in — the kind of discipline at home where his mother would always hit them when they make mistakes or the kind of influence outside where his friends would drag him to doing bad things. It is only when one meets someone who will lead them back to the right path that that person can change for the better. He once had a friend in high school who was kind and fun to be with. They would talk everyday and one day, his friend brought him to his house. Kuya Resty saw how different his friend’s household was to his. There was no shouting. His parents would just gently talk to his friend and his friend would obediently obey. His home full of shouting and hitting was nothing compared to the peaceful and healthy environment his friend goes home to. This made him think about the life he’s living.
This also led him to get a little envious of the people living a good life. He would always observe them and think about how his life would be better off and have meaning if he’d learn to live life the way they did. He concluded that he has yet to find meaning to live, so he’d just strive hard to finish high school and work for different job afterwards. He didn’t want to end up like his childhood friends whom he heard ended up getting killed from committing crimes.
Never in his wildest dreams did he expect to get assigned to Ateneo de Manila University. His friends warned him that it’s hard to work in a school because students are naughty and arrogant. There was even a case where a guard got beaten up by students outside the school premises. It wasn’t true for Mr. Resty though. He was first assigned to the North West Carpark where the drivers and parents were usually the ones who were mean. There was even a time when a student’s dad wouldn’t want to follow car park rules and was even the one who got mad at Mr. Resty. The guy kept on shouting and cursing, but Mr. Resty remained composed and levelheaded. He’s been through so much worse that having the patience to not pick a fight with this guy for something petty was nothing. From being the kid who loved to pick fights to resolve an issue, he grew up to be someone who thinks clearly first, considering his priorities like not losing his job for the sake of the future of his family.
Despite taking on a new life, Mr. Resty still made mistakes along the way. There was a time when he exited the wrong gate and his officer caught him. The officer asked the four guards who allowed Mr. Resty to exit the wrong gate to report back to the main office because Kuya Resty was just the violator and the four guards were the implementers just like how a student may have violated rules by not wearing his id, but it’s more of the guard’s fault for letting the student get away with it. His conscience couldn’t let four of his friends lose their jobs from his mistake, so he offered to get sent back to the office instead.
After some time, he got hired back to the Ateneo because his other officer really liked his patience, work ethics, and performance. He got assigned to MVP Landing (a building for student organizations within the campus) where at first he didn’t really want to be assigned to because he’d just be standing there and not get to roam around. However, while on duty, he eventually enjoyed his post because he got to meet the students everyday and whenever he’d greet these students, the students would enthusiastically return his greeting. It was so different from malls where the people would just stare and roll their eyes at him whenever he’d greet them. In Ateneo, some would even try to beat him to it. When he’s busy, students would sneak up behind him and say, “Mr. Resty! Good morning! I’ve beaten you to it hahaha!” He would feel ashamed when students do that because he’s the service provider so he should be the one to be of service to the students.
Nevertheless, like what I said, our lives intersect in a way that we can learn from one another. And for Mr. Resty, it may not mean much to us, but he’s really grateful for ending up in the Ateneo where the people aren’t exposed to harsh environments yet. People in the Ateneo are really different from people outside who look down on them and even curse them. This healthy environment pushes Mr. Resty to do more, be more, and live more. He really encourages the current generation right now to study hard. He knows we have the brains and skills, and he really hopes that when we graduate and step out of to the world, we would remember to use these knowledge to do good, to positively affect people’s lives, and live a meaningful life.
When asked if he had any regrets in life, he proudly said none because it’s hard to go back to the past and from his experiences, the people he met along the way, the change he chose to do, and path he chose to take all took part in making him the person he is right now—someone who doesn’t have to die a meaningless life at 25. We should all just live the present and work from there. He is now 32 and is working hard to provide a good life for his wife and child. He may only have one child, but at least he was able to learn from his parents’ mistakes and is confident that at least he’d be able to let his child finish college and give her a brighter future. And this for him is the greatest achievement that he can have as a father. Thus, it can be said that what finding a meaning to live does in him is what really sparks the most change: one that is internal—a love that transforms.
He is the epitome of change. He made me realize that it’s never too late for anyone. He may have had a bad start, but he chose to turn his life around—towards a path heading to a happy and successful life, which for him was a happy, healthy family that he’s been dreaming of since he was a kid. I have always believed in the importance of defining our lives by the choices we make and not settle with what we’ve born with. Knowing his story just reaffirmed my belief and inspired me to always try to be a better version of myself.
Who knew that there can be a rich and inspiring life struggle underneath the casual smiles and greetings of a normal security guard? We got so used to thinking of them the same way, stuck in their roles. They are who they are. And then we learn something so beautiful about them that make us believe and understand life more. Even our teachers, maintenance staff, etc. have been stuck in our minds to just teach, clean, serve, etc. in this institution we move around in. It has always been seen that way that we fail to realize that like us, they also have their own personal lives. They also went through and are going through hardships and challenges. They all have interesting stories to tell, apart from the mundane jobs that we are seeing. And right now, I am making one of their voices be heard.