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Si Manong Guard

By Jocille Morito

The No ID, No Entry had caused quite an uproar among students, especially now that they are required to have their ID’s dangling around their necks every time they enter Silliman.But before students dispose the guards as nuisance who require unreasonable requests, this writer deemed it necessary to recognize at least one of these people behind the gates of Silliman who have been a part of the student’s daily life (one way or another).
He is the guard one sees smiling and greeting every passer-by at Villareal Hall, every day of the week, from two in the afternoon up to ten in the evening. The Silliman community knows him as “Kuya,” “Bossing,” “Manong,” “Kuya Guard,” or simply “Guard.” But to those who know him, he is Mr. Ronnie Boy Palalon.
Mang Ronnie has been a guard in Silliman University for seven years now. He was born on February 27, 1967 in Zamboanga Sibugay. He came to Dumaguete in 1978 when he studied in Negros Oriental High School. After graduating, he went to Dipolog and enrolled in Andres Bonifacio College. He wanted to join the Philippine Constabulary. But due to the perilous situation in Mindanao at that time he went back to Dumaguete and pursued electrical technology at Foundation University. After two years, Mang Ronnie went to Davao and worked in a banana plantation in the packaging department.

“Pagsugod nako sa labor, daghan ng welga-welga.”
He did not expect to work as a guard, but since he sided with the administration of the plantation, he was assigned as one of the boundary guards who prevented the strikers from entering the premises. He worked for almost ten years at the plantation before he resigned and decided to go back to Dipolog where he married his wife. Now they have three kids. He applied and worked as a security guard in various establishments such as Imelda National School, Victoria Country Homes, and even at Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon, before serving as a body guard of a Vice Mayor. Here, Mang Ronnie recalled himself bringing armalite for ten years.

It was due to the many political hazards that Mang Ronnie and his family decided to go back to Dumaguete in 2003. Compared to Mindanao that time, Dumaguete was relatively a peaceful city. He worked for a foreigner as an all-around boy, driving him around the city, doing errands, what-have-you. In 2005 and 2006, he worked at the Dumaguete Airport and also at the ¬Bravo Golf Course in Sibulan as a guard. Though Mang Ronnie was a graduate of an associate course in electrical technology, he felt closer to his dream of being a constabulary working as a security guard.
It was in 2007 that he finally came to Silliman University.
“Nisulod ko sa Silliman katong August 4, 2007. Gikuha ko as augmentation for Founder’s Day.”

But after Founder’s Day, he was assigned by his agency to another establishment. It was in September 10 of the same year that he came back to Silliman to serve regularly.
“Tanan ng post diri sa Silliman ako ng na-gwardiyahan.”

He had been assigned as a roving guard, a gater at different gates of the University, and even at the guard post erected near the President’s House after a grenade endangered the safety of the President’s family.

Being a guard is not a safe job. Since Mang Ronnie’s shift is from two in the afternoon up to ten in the evening, he lays down his life, together with other security guards just to keep Silliman safe.
“Kalu-oy sa Ginoo, wala ra man pod ko na-unsa. As a guard, dapat gud dili ka patulog-tulog kung dili ma-birahan niya ka ug sikinsa dira.”

But Mang Ronnie’s greatest challenge is not the harm that may come at night. Rather, it is the people he encounters in broad daylight. When asked about his job, Mang Ronnie said,“Sayon ra man ang akong trabaho kung ang uban nakasabot dayon sa bala-od sa University. Lisdan mi kay nay uban mupilosopo, dili lang mga estudyante, pero usahay mga consignee, parents…”
Due to the No ID, No Entry, No Helmet No Entry, and No sticker No, Entry policies of the University, Mang Ronnie always encounters people who stubbornly resist the policies, giving the guards a hard time to implement the laws that were just passed on to them.

“Usahay ma insultuhan mi sa mga estudyante nga dili musunod or musupak sa balaod. Mao ng pasabton namo sila sagi-implementar nga mga balaod. Pero naa ra gu’y uban nga dili musabot.”

As a gater at Villareal Hall, Mang Ronnie’s job is not easy. Due to the number of students, visitors, and vehicles passing by that gate, he does a lot of multi-tasking: checking the ID’s of the students, opening the gate for vehicles, and even looking after the things that students leave at the guard house.

Even though their job is just to check the ID’s, guard the gate, and maintain the peace and order of the school, the guards also go the extra mile by doing errands for students and staff, such as “kuya, pabilin sa ko aning photocopy diri, kwaon ra ni sa akong amiga unya,” or “Lihog ko ug ingon ni so-and-so nga pasirad-an lang ang so-and-so…” among others.

Sometimes, other students would trick the guards and give their ID’s to non-Sillimanian students just to have them enter the school premise. While there’s nothing wrong with allowing other students to get in the premises of the University, especially if they have school-related appointments, Mang Ronnie said that they don’t follow proper protocol. Instead of logging in on the log book and giving their ID’s to the guard, these people, together with their Sillimanian accomplices use lent ID’s, knowing that it’s against the School Policy.

Due to these instances, some guards would receive sanctions from the management. Thankfully, Mang Ronnie had never been sanctioned or suspended.

“Ako ra gung gibuhat ang akong trabaho ug mayo kay lisod na ng panahon karon. Nagpasalamat ra pod ko sa Ginoo nga wala ra pod ko makasulay nga ma-expel or ma-suspended.”

Mang Ronnie does not only implement all of the rules in the University with regards to peace and order; he also makes sure he applies this discipline to himself.

“As a guard, dapat pod ming maging model sa mga estudyante.”
That is why every day, before going to his post, Mang Ronnie, and other guards are being checked for their uniform: that includes their ID, their shining badge, their shiny shoes, properly kept nails, hair, and shaved face.

Aside from their proper appearance and attire, they also have written exams on the names of the Heads and Deans of each Department and the Board of Trustees. This is to make sure that they know the people in Silliman.

But even when Mang Ronnie encountered these challenges, he is happy to be working in Silliman. He had made a lot of friends, and acquaintances among students, faculty and staff. Despite the stubbornness of some, there are a lot of students, faculty and staff who are very generous to him and to the other guards. Furthermore, he said,

“Kanang kada month sa December, makadawat ko og pinaskuhan. Naa’y mga students og faculty nga manghatag og usahay T-shirts, pagkaon or usahay pa ganikwarta para daw pamPasko.”

Students may not understand them, especially when the students are rushing to their classes. But the security guards are the very reason why until now there is no bombing or any grave threat which jeopardizes Silliman’s safety. It is through these people that the Silliman community remains to be a relatively safe University where students could freely go to school and stay in school even up to midnight without worrying about their safety. However, students must learn to respect these people who are risking their lives every day just to do their job, and keep the school safe. Without these people, the Silliman Community would never be safe as ever.

Lastly, Mang Ronnie said that the students and the entire community of Silliman must follow simple orders, not only for their own safety, but for the safety of the entire University. As the infamous movie line goes, “Trabaho lang, Walang Personalan.”

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