Cleaning Lady Returns Pouch With P1.2 Million

MANILA, Philippines - Few people could have resisted such temptation.

In her hands, cleaning lady Mary Jennifer Doroga held an amount that could have made her an instant millionaire and answer for the medical needs of her ailing mother.

But as Doroga, 32, returned the pouch full of foreign denominations to the airport's lost and found section, her luck was farthest from her mind.

Instead, she worried for the pouch owner, who might have been listlessly searching for the lost bank notes - all P1.2 million worth of it.

''It would've been wrong to claim something that wasn't mine. That would not be good karma,'' Doroga said in Filipino.

She earned the admiration of airport officials, who are giving her a commendation today for her honesty.

Like most of her days, Thursday began rather ordinarily.

With a take home pay of P426 as a contractual janitress at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), she was thinking of rendering overtime work to add to her meager salary.

She needed the overtime to pay for the medical expenses of her mother, who's having knee and bowel movement problems. She had taken her to a hospital for a medical check-up and the bills are slowly mounting.

But no amount of financial difficulty can deny one's innate honesty. She was not even expecting any reward for her honesty.

While attending to her assigned duties at the Customs arrival area at the NAIA Terminal 1 last April 26, Doroga chanced upon the clear plastic pouch bulky with foreign money.

Instinctively, she thought about the owner who had left behind the small fortune.

''It did not cross my mind to keep the money. I was concerned for the person who lost it,'' she said.

Without bothering to count how much was inside the pouch, Doroga quickly proceeded to the lost and found section to surrender the money.

When the foreign currency notes have been sorted out, it amounted to P1.2 million.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado described Doroga as one of the ''silent heroes in our midst.''

Amid the admiration and the accolade, Doroga said she was only doing what's right as taught by her parents.

Her sickly mother, who instilled in her the virtue of honesty, was only too happy for her when she told her about what happened, she said.

A janitorial service contractor, Doroga said financial difficulty had always been a problem for her family, like second skin.

But for someone who has simple joys and simple needs, monetary problems will always play second fiddle to her.

''All I want is to help my family with honey pay from honest work. That's my simple joy,'' she said in the vernacular.

In a way, Doroga said she is only paying it forward the goodness that other people have extended to her family.

She got employed at the NAIA with the help of MIAA finance division general manager Herminia Castillo, who her mother met in one church occasion. ''It was her who helped me find this job.''

She has not forgotten that simple act of kindness.

She may be a lowly janitress, but Doroga towers above all with her integrity and work ethics.