(Note: Pilipino Star Ngayon’s Bituin Ng Pag-Asa series looks back and celebrates viral stories of hope and inspiration this 2020.)
This security guard in Pasay was praised online after he was spotted in June teaching street children how to read and write, and even holding exams to check if they had learned their lessons.
Renz Abelita became the “accidental” tutor to street kids loitering near the pawnshop he is working at when he found out they didn’t know how to spell and write their names.
“Tinanong ko sila kung ano ‘yung pangalan nila. Alam naman nila. Pero kapag ‘yung isusulat na, hindi na nila alam. Kaya dun na nakuha ‘yung atensyon ko,” Abelita told The STAR.
With stricter quarantine restrictions then in place, the pawnshop barely had any customers at that time so he managed to help these kids practice name writing.
As the kids wanted to learn more, Abelita went on to teach them ABAKADA reading and writing lessons. He would even give them follow-up activities and exams!
Couple John Robert Flores and Angellyn Inaudito happened to be in the area when they saw the security guard mentoring a street child. They took a picture of them and shared it on Facebook.
“Pinikturan namin siya kasi parang simbolo ‘to ng mga mabuting tao na dapat siya ang tularan. Totoong marangal talaga yung ginawa niya,” the couple told Latestchika.com.
Their post went viral and was widely reported in the media. They also got to know more Abelita, who was being dubbed by netizens as “sekyu-guro”.
The couple discovered that the security guard was tutoring not only one but five street children almost on a regular basis. He would also feed them.
“Sabi namin, bakit niya ginawa yun? Pag-wala talaga siyang ginagawa, tinuturuan niya yung mga bata. Kasi yung mga bata na yun nasa gilid lang yun,” Inaudito recalled.
“And kaya pala niya tinuturuan kasi di po nakapag-aral. Di rin po natutukan ng magulang sa sobrang hirap ng buhay. Naawa po siya kaya tinutulungan nalang po niya araw-araw. Siya na rin nagpapakain sa kanila.”
They didn’t expect the photo would become a hit online. The security guard was very grateful to the couple for appreciating his effort for the street kids.
“Una nga po daw nahihiya siya. Ayaw niya magbukas ng Facebook. May mga negative rin kasi nagko-comment,” said Flores.
He further shared that Abelita also got scared of being fired from his job. But his fears were unfounded.
They also learned that many people recognized him, including students from a nearby school along Taft Avenue.
But what amused them the most was when some ex-girlfriends vouched for Abelita’s character and messaged their thanks for posting about him.
“Meron po talaga nakakakilala sa kanya na mabait po talaga siya. Sa sobrang daming nag-share, marami pala nakakakila sa kanya,” Flores said.
Asked what they learned from the sekyu-guro’s story, they said, “‘Wag tayo magdamot kung ano meron tayo, kahit konting tulong kayanin natin.”
As for Abelita, he told The STAR last June that he was tutoring these street children in hopes of encouraging them not to end up like him who didn’t finish school.
“Ayokong matularan nila ‘yung naranasan ko. Pakiramdam ko kasi kung hindi ko sila matulungan baka maranasan nila ‘yung pinagdaanan ko.”
He also had a message for those struggling with their schooling, especially during the pandemic.
“Sa mga bata na nahinto sa kanilang pag-aaral, sana po ay ‘wag po kayong sumuko or tumigil sa pag-aaral dahil alam po nating kayang-kaya nating malampasan ang sakuna na darating. Kaya ‘wag po tayong susuko. Laban lang para sa pangarap mo.”
Watch the inspiring #BituinNgPagAsa video below: