By Evelyn Tendero
When I retired on May 1, 2015, Tirso Estriba was one of the security guards of KKFI. At that time I learned that when he is not on duty, he tended the plants in front of the KKFI compound fronting P. Paredes Street.
When I visited KKFI in 2016 and July 2017 I learned from the staff that Tirso was already a permanent employee, working as a janitor-gardener with five working days and two days off. Now that I am back to KKFI to work with staff of the dormitory operations, I am sharing to the readers who is Tirso Estriba.
The following are the things I knew from him in our one-on-one conversation. He graduated with a nautical engineering course from Mindanao. He went to Manila after he finished his course to apply for job as a seaman, but failed to land a job for six months.
He was hired as a worker in a construction firm in South Korea when he was only 22 years old. Since he worked as a farmer while studying, he didn’t mind the hard work in South Korea. He learned welding skills and other related works in construction until he had a family of his own.
He worked in South Korea for 10 years but he overstayed with serious consequence–he was imprisoned for two months for staying without a visa. Thankfully, a Korean organization helped him get a lawyer who facilitated his return to the Philippines.
He and his wife Teresa have a 13-year-old daughter, Juliana, who was born in South Korea. They now live in Project 2, Quezon City.
When he learned that Ryan Mateo’s position as janitor-gardener was about to be vacated on May 2016, he applied for it even though the salary was lower than his job at the time. He was after his and his family’s security like SSS, Philhealth, Pagibig and other employee’s benefits.
He became a permanent employee on November 1, 2016 and was given the recognition as the Male Employee of the Year in 2017.
I observed that Tirso comes as early as 5:30 a.m. and starts his work way before the start of his working schedule, which is 7 a.m. He is the kind of person who always greets you with a smile in the morning, even as he was doing his job sweeping the grounds with his big broom. Oftentimes, I would see Tirso stop working at around 6 or 7 p.m.
Every time I make my rounds, I would often see Tirso perspiring and hard at work. At the same time, I could feel that he loves what he is doing. He obviously has a “green thumb” and he know how to make use of this gift.
Tirso claimed his joy comes from seeing the plants healthy and the flowers in bloom. He is approachable and he has no problem relating with his co-workers. He has not had any conflict with anybody.
Now, who can dispute the decision of the management to bestow upon him the prestige of being the 2017 Male Employee of the Year?