April 22, 2024

(By guest columnist Vernice T. Cuteng)

On a warm afternoon on March 3, two boys with their younger friends and siblings decided to get some fresh air in the mountains overlooking Bontoc, the capital town of Mountain Province.
Little did they know that their fortitude and character would be tested during this outing.
At around 5 p.m. on their way back, Christopher who is a grade 9 student of Mountain Province General Comprehensive High School and the eldest of the group noticed a brown wallet lying on the middle of the road a few meters after they have passed by Teng-ab.
Together with Troy, a grade 8 student of the same school, made their decision to return Shirlene Mang-usan’s wallet containing her cards and P50,000 cash.
Here is an insight of how the two best friends, who have known each other since grade 1, came up with their choice to do the right thing.


What was your reaction when you discovered the contents of the wallet?
Chris: We were shocked because it was our first time to be holding that number of P1,000 bills. We hurriedly closed the wallet and tried to overtake the motorcycle we met earlier because the ID in the wallet matched the face of the lady riding the motorcycle and whose bag was open.
Troy: Initially, we tried calling the number in the ID but there was no response because there was no signal in most areas in the upland. We turned the motorcycle around and tried to overtake them, but we had to turn back when we reached the boundary between Bontoc Ili and Guina-ang for we were already low on fuel.


What did you talk about on the way back?
Troy: We were joking and imagining about what to buy with it. While resting, we opened the wallet again and started counting the bills which amounted to P50,000. The younger boys said that we’ll keep it because no one saw us anyway. However, I was afraid of doing that. I knew that with that amount of money, it was surely meant to be used for something important.
Chris: Since we couldn’t go to Guina-ang, we stopped by at the first store we reached, bought load, and tried calling the number in the ID but it was out of coverage. We know that signal was not stable there, so we told the uncle who owns the store about the situation. He told us to let him keep the wallet because he knows the owner. We planned to go get it the next day so we can hand it to the owner when we will see her.


How were you able to contact the owner?
Troy: My mother sent a message via Facebook Messenger to inform ma’am Shirlene that we found her wallet and to agree on where to meet. We went first to retrieve the wallet at the store and meet the owner at the Post Office. However, we couldn’t find her there. We decided to bring it after class to the police station or radio station because it was nearly 7:30 a.m. and we would be late for the flag ceremony.

What were your reactions when you met her?
Chris: During the last period, I saw a lady pass by our classroom, but I didn’t recognize her for I was not expecting that she would come to school. When we were dismissed, I went to wait for Troy so we could go to the police station. I saw a lady waiting outside their room and somewhat realized it was the lady on the motorcycle. To be sure, I asked whom she was waiting for, and she mentioned the name of Troy. I brought out her wallet and handed it to her which really made her smile broadly.


What did you talk about while waiting for Troy?
Chris: I told her everything that happened including the fact that her wallet has passed the hands of many persons and that she should count it to be sure that everything is there. She also said that she has just withdrawn the money which is to be used to buy construction supplies.


Did you accept her invitation (for lunch)?
Troy: We didn’t go for lunch with her because our friends were waiting and wanted to know what happened. Aunty Shirlene understood and gave us something to show her appreciation of which we are very thankful.


So, what is something that you could tell others who will experience the same situation?
Troy: I would like to share what my mother said. “Big or small, always return what you find to the rightful owner.”
Christopher: “The good and even bad things we do will eventually come back to us. I also felt that I would displease Nan Intutungcho if I kept what is not mine.”
Christopher is the son of Maybel Madchalang Sigua and Antony Jose Sigua while Troy is the son of Marie Kidpo Chumapoy and Henry T. Chumapoy, Jr. The boys who grew up together are neighbors in Pokisan, Bontoc Ili.


The honesty and kindness of Chris and Troy are beautiful features of MPGCHS as she celebrates her 70th founding anniversary on March 15.
Reach me at [email protected].