38-year-old janitor graduates from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde


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MANILA, Philippines – He was already 34 when he enrolled in college but Emmanuel Ricalde did not let age hinder him from finding success and fulfilling his children’s dreams of having a dad with a white collar job.
38-year-old janitor graduates from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

Emmanuel recalled with sadness how his 6-year-old daughter cried upon learning that her dad ‘only’ works as janitor.

According to Emmanuel, his daughter had asked him what he did for a living. He proudly answered, “Janitor!” He was proud of his job but his daughter was dismayed.

38-year-old janitor graduates from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde
Photo credit: Inquirer

His daughter and 4-year-old son thought he had a white collar job, just like their playmates’ parents.

While Emmanuel tried to make his children understand that being a janitor is nothing to be ashamed of, he also felt that he could still do better. He felt that it wasn’t too late to fulfill his dreams of graduating from college and to also fulfill his children’s wish that he had a white collar job.

Fate brought him to De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB). He was assigned as janitor at the school in 2014.

He learned that the school caters to working students and even has a number of scholarships offered to poor but deserving students; he immediately grabbed the opportunity!

But things were more challenging than he expected.

Each day, he would be out of the house by 3AM so he won’t be late for the workers’ briefing at 4:45AM. He would be at work until 2PM. Between 2PM and 6PM, he had time to rest and do his assignments but come 6PM, he has to be in class until 9PM.

More often than not, his family would still be asleep when he leaves for work – and they are already asleep by the time he gets back home.

Things grew even more challenging when his wife, Maricar, had to go Bacolod to care for her ailing mom. She brought the children with her.

The separation from his family, despite being temporary, was difficult for Emmanuel to deal with but managed to overcome loneliness so he could fulfill their dreams.

38-year-old janitor graduates from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde
Photo credit: Inquirer

In his final year in school, the janitor-student met 27-year-old Karl who became his best friend and thesis partner. They shared the same dreams. Karl often shouldered the thesis expenses and though younger, he became Emmanuel’s source of strength, much like an older brother.

But Karl suddenly died of a terminal illness just months before graduation; it was an even heavier blow for Emmanuel.

Thankfully, he survived and recently graduated, finally, from the course Bachelor of Science in Business Administration diploma, major in Business Management.

Now that he’s a college graduate, Emmanuel hopes to finally find a better job and be reunited with his family. He also plans on saving enough money to start an agricultural business.

“Yung pangarap mo, wag mo iwawala. Lagi mong isipin na may pag-asa at kapag hawak at nasa kamay mo na ang opportunity, pag-ingatan mo na yan,” he advised.

— Joy Adalia, The Summit Express


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