FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City -- A 47-year-old waiter at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) who returned P40,000 he found near the flagpole inside the campus will be given formal recognition for his act on Monday.

Salvador Aquino or Manong Kid, as he is fondly called, returned the money last February 10. The owner of the money was Ronnie Bautista, who was at the PMA as part of the Familiarization Tour in Baguio City by the Avon personnel.

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Bautista said the money was intended to pay for the hotel accommodations and other expenses of the group.

“Kung hindi niya naibalik yung pera, I will really have a big problem. It will cost me my salary,” said Bautista.

Asked why he returned it, Manong Kid said: “Hindi naman akin yun, kaya binalik ko (It was not my money, so I returned it).”

Manong Kid, who has seen the turnover of 16 superintendents at the PMA, got the nickname from a soldier friend from Tarlac. The nickname stuck with variations of “kid”, “manong kid” and “senior kid.”

Information chief captain Agnes Lynette Flores said: “In the face of all kinds of temptations, Manong Kid, knew the difference between right and wrong...that is integrity.”

Serving 23 years at the Academy, Manong Kid is assigned in the Cadet Mess as a waiter since 1987. He started when then Brigadier General Rodolfo Biazon was at the helm of the academy.

In 1996, during the term of Major General Victor Mayo, Manong Kid also found P4,500 at the floor of the Boodlebar while he was sweeping. It was the salary of an instructor.

“Magaan ang pakiramdam ko, masaya nung binalik ko,” he said.

Manong Kid started with a P1,000 allowance in 1987. His salary is now P7,200, but he seems content and happy.

He has a 10-year-old daughter studying at Calasiao, Pangasinan. “Kung gusto nya maging PMA’er ok lang sa akin.”

Superintendent Leonardo Calderon will be the one to give the formal recognition to Manong Kid on Monday. (Ma. Elena Catajan)