Netizens were surprised to discover an old scavenger who loves science and books. If you ask him, he could tell you the scientific name of any plant! Many wondered who this intelligent old man was and why he was living in the streets.
Photo credit: YouTube / GMA News
Identified as Alfredo Manuel, the old man collects garbage in the Malate-Ermita area but lives in Sta. Ana, Manila.
He first went viral after Debei Cargando, a student at University of the Philippines-Manila, shared some of his photos on social media.
Photo credit: Debei Cargando / GMA News
UP Manila history professor Benjie Mangubat was interviewing Tatay Alfredo when the student took the photo. The history professor would later reveal that Tatay Alfredo is no ordinary scavenger – he’s an education graduate who had actually passed the licensure exam for teachers as well as the civil service exams!
From Janitor to Educator
In the interview, Prof. Mangubat learned that Tatay Alfredo had once worked as janitor in an elementary school. Dreaming of a better life, he decided to go to school to complete his education.
Photo credit: Facebook / Andrew Pamorada
True enough, after years of being a working student, Tatay Alfredo was able to graduate from the University of the East with an Education degree. He subsequently passed the board exam in 1992, making him a licensed teacher. Then, he was also able to pass the civil service exams.
From janitor, Tatay Alfredo has successfully become an educator!
He went back to the elementary school he used to work in as janitor, this time to apply as teacher. But he was shocked to learn that he had pending theft charges at the school, something he knew nothing about.
Wanting to prove his innocence, he tried the next 5 years to have those charges dropped and to also apply from the school, but his request had fallen on deaf ears.
From Educator to Scavenger
Disheartened, Tatay Alfredo lost his will to find a job as teacher and began a life in the streets, searching trash bins for recyclable materials he could still sell to junk shops.
“Parang ang unfair ng society. Educator siya pero nangangalakal siya ng basura. Siguro nga disorganized siya, pero nakakapanghinayang pa rin,” Prof. Mangubat told GMA News.
“Gusto talaga niyang magturo. Tuwang-tuwa ‘yan ‘pag may kumakausap sa kanya. Kakausapin ka pa niyan in English…ako nga’y teacher, pero may mga alam siya na hindi ko alam.”
After learning about his story, a number of students began to visit Tatay Alfredo. Some would bring him books, aside from also giving him food.