Janitor parents' sacrifices pay off as children graduate cum laude from Ateneo

MANILA, Philippines – Hard work and determination were the keys to success for parents who were able to send their children to Ateneo de Manila University to finish their education.

Riel Gutierrez honors his parents, who worked as janitors for years
Riel Gutierrez honors his parents, who worked as janitors for years so he and his sister can finish their education | Photo Courtesy: Facebook/ Riel Gutierrez

Riel Gutierrez couldn’t help but honor his parents as he shared their family photo collage, all wearing togas. Their success was also their parents’ success. According to him, his parents worked their way through cleaning the comfort rooms and every corner of Ateneo just so they could finish their education at the prestigious university. According to Riel, his parents worked as janitors for years.

Even more impressive, he and his sister, Rica, graduated with Latin honors. Riel graduated cum laude in 2019 with a degree in AB Psychology with a minor in Education. Rica was also cum laude in 2023 with a degree in AB Management Economics with a minor in Korean Studies.

Riel wrote on Facebook, “Kinikilabutan ako tuwing sasabihin sa iba na ang magulang ko na simpleng janitor ng Ateneo ay nakapagpatapos ng mga anak nila sa kolehiyo. Hindi lang basta nagsipagtapos, meron pang kakabit na latin honors.”

Ricky, his father, works as Maintenance II in the Grade school department, and Elma, his mother, works as Maintenance I in the IRH (The International Residence Hall).

Riel reflected on the sacrifices his parents made so that she and he could have a good education and a shot at a successful future. He added, “Sa lahat ng silid-aralan, sa lahat ng kubeta, sa lahat ng faculty room, sa lahat ng dorm rooms na nilinis ng mga magulang ko, ito na ang naging bunga. Literal na blood, sweat, and tears.”

He acknowledged his parents by saying that his and his siblings' achievements are a reflection of their own. He said, “Kaya ang tagumpay ni Rica Gutierrez ay sanlibong tagumpany nina Ricky Azares Gutierrez at Elma Gutierrez. SALUDO!”

After his post went viral, Riel explained that his post was a salute to his parents. He explained, “The [Facebook] post was a salute to the hard work of my parents. Ever since we were young, we have seen the blood, sweat, and tears our parents put in to make sure that we have a better future...More than the accolades we have received for our academic achievements, this was more for our parents.”

— Sally, The Summit Express

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