STUDENTS would probably see Leonardo Garimbao roaming around the campus with his bike four to five times each day.

He is just one of many security guards on campus who dutifully help ensure the general safety of students every day. Garimbao is now on his 25th year as a security guard in UST.

The 55-year-old Pangasinense tried his luck in Manila to support his wife Charito, his sons Charlie and Louise, and daughter Janette. He first worked as an employee in a manufacturing company in Tondo after the Garimbao family moved to Malabon. After nine years, a relative who worked in UST helped Garimbao land a job in the school as a janitor in 1985.

“For me, any kind of job would do, as long as it was decent,” he said.

With a salary just enough to support his family, he embraced this new occupation wholeheartedly.

Later, his manager offered security training for high school graduates, an opportunity he immediately seized.

The year 1988 marked the beginning of his new career as a security guard. He was first assigned at the Roque Ruaño building, the popular venue for not a few fraternity clashes at that time.

A different battlefield

Leo, now the head guard, had once dreamt of becoming a soldier.

“Way back during my childhood, my parents wanted me to become a soldier but that dream did not come true because during the 1970’s, a lot of new soldiers brought to Mindanao died in war,” he told the Varsitarian.

“Of course my parents did not want me to suffer the same fate so they didn’t allow me to pursue that vocation.”

Healing from within

Soon, Leo realized he did not totally abandon his dream. He found his own “battlefield” on campus against lawless elements that threatened the security of all Thomasians.

But for all his professed dedication to his job, Leo said occasional clashes with students were common.

“In our aim to protect the University, some students consider us arrogant especially when we are constantly implementing the strict policies of UST,” he said, specifically pertaining to the ID system.

Garimbao said he made it a point never to let these problems distract him.

He said a sense of stability was important in juggling work with his responsibilities as a father and a husband.

Although he does not stay home frequently, he makes sure that he makes it up with his family. Usually, Leo wakes up at 4 a.m. and goes home at 7 p.m. Whenever he has no duty, he takes care of his grandchildren and cooks them his specialty dish, pinakbet.

“There are instances when I am left with just two to three hours of stay at home. I use this time to help my wife in the household chores by doing simple things like fixing the lights and lifting the LPG tank,” he said.

Body equilibrium is also a big must for Leo because he believes in the virtues of discipline and moderation. This is why he enjoys jogging and shooting hoops at the UST Sports Complex during Sundays as part of the physical fitness routine of the security department.

“For me, a security guard must always be physically fit to perform his duty well,” he said.


Once, Garimbao said he entertained the thought of resigning and retreating to the province for good.

Still, he is not the type to quit in the middle of his duty so he perseveres through the years of his stay in UST.

“I can’t help but reminisce our life in the province and what could have been if I just stayed and worked there. Anyway, if you work hard enough, you can adjust to any kind of job,” he said. But like a true soldier, Leo stood his ground amid bouts with nostalgia, and, to some extent, financial difficulties.

For Leo, sticking to his job was the best decision he has done so far.

In a span of almost 25 years as a UST security personnel, he confessed that his happiness comes from doing his job despite the hazards to go with it. He also praised his co-guards for not giving him a hard time as one of their head guard.

“The happiest part of my job is the camaraderie my co-workers and I share. I believe that my honesty is the reason why I don’t have enemies at work,” he said.

Pilgrimage under the sun

It was one humid afternoon when I finally got the chance to be one of the head guards in UST for half a day. Even the scorching heat of the sun did not stop me and Mang Leo (Garimbao) from fulfilling this responsibility because security is a job that transcends weather conditions. He said he usually monitors the entire campus with his bicycle but because I accompanied him in monitoring the situation, we decided to walk on foot.

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Starting from the security officers’ headquarters, we went from post to post to make sure that the whole UST campus is well secured. I discovered that there were several surveillance cameras situated near every gate of the University so that any security threat would be monitored. We checked the logbooks and supervised the guards on-duty if they were doing their tasks well.

Since there was an ongoing UAAP Softball game in UST that day, we had to be more alert with the security of the place. The parking space was also jam-packed with people, mostly outsiders who arrived at the university grounds.

Hours had passed and I knew that we were just half-through with completing the area supervision. As the afternoon took its toll, the sun was already roasting our skin, we were perspiring abundantly, and fatigue crept in slowly. But instead of succumbing to the challenge, we continued roaming the grounds until we reached the last spot: the UST Main building where Mang Leo and I bid our goodbyes.

It was a tiring afternoon but like Mang Leo’s vow of dedication to his job, I stayed knowing that there was nothing to regret about.


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