Imagine your are jobless in a foreign country, living on recycling garbage while your children waiting for your remittance to pay for school and living expenses– found an envelope with the equivalent of US$43,000 in a garbage can— the equivalent of working as a house maid for 20 years in that foreign country to make that amount of money– What will you do? Will you grab this “ticket” to financial freedom and run?
This scenario happened to Mildred Perez, an unemployed Filipina house maid who gets “stuck” in Hong Kong.

She barely survives on her daily US$5 income by picking soda cans, paper and used clothings from garbage surfing.

Faced with this “bounty” which is a considered a huge sum in her home country, what was in her mind?

“Of course, I couldn’t sleep. It’s money. That would have allowed me to go home. But I was thinking, who left the money? What if he is just another worker? He would lose his job. How many people depend on him? I couldn’t keep it. My conscience would have bothered me no end if I did otherwise,” Perez said.

She seems to forget her own problems and thinks more about the welfare of the person who had lost the envelope.

Perez eventually located the owner and returned all the money to her. The owner gave her a can of buttered cookies as a token of appreciation. The envelope was lost by her employee who was supposely to deposit it into a bank.

Prezez resumes her life as a garbage surfer.

For detail of this story:

This story reminds me of a legend about Immortal Lu Dong-bin. Immortal is the equivalent of “buddha” or “enlightened being” in Daoism (Taoism). Lu was one of the “8 Immortals” in Daoism.

Before Lu become an Immortal, he had studied with his master about the alchemy of turning copper to gold.

One day, Lu had asked his master, “Will this converted gold turn back into copper one day?”
His master said, “Yes, after 500 years, it will turn back to copper.”

“Then I don’t want to learn this alchemy. I do not want to create problem for the person who will own this gold 500 years later.”

The legend goes like this– Lu became an Immortal (enlightened) after this episode because of his concern for people that were not even born yet.

Returning to the story of the honest unemployed house maid– Mildred Perez’s story has become an inspiration and pride in her hometown. People are raising money for her to return home.

Ken Lai

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