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Janryl’s journey from a barangay tanod to a civil engineer: A step closer to fulfilling his dream

By: Michelle Joy L. Padayhag March 22,2019 - 06:00 AM

Janryl Judilla Tan, 23, works as a barangay tanod (village watchman) in Barangay Kalubihan, Cebu City. On March 20, 2019, he graduated with honors with a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cebu. | CDND Photo/ Micah Sophia Marcellones

CEBU CITY — Janryl Judilla Tan’s childhood was marked by a memory of his family moving from one house to another when they lived in Cebu City and in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental.

His parents, Jerry and Nilda, could not afford building their own house because of financial difficulties. Nilda was a homemaker, while Jerry took jobs as a repairman. His income was enough to put food on the table.

Growing up homeless and without a permanent address did not discourage Janryl from dreaming big for his family. Motivated by love and dedication to succeed, he made a promise to build their family’s house when he becomes an engineer.

On March 20, 2019, Janryl moved a step closer to fulfill his dream as he stepped on the stage of the Cebu City Coliseum as a Cum Laude graduate of the University of Cebu (UC) with a degree in Civil Engineering.

“It will not be a mansion or a big house… just a simple house that can accommodate six to seven people,” he tells CDN Digital about the house he plans to build during an interview on March 21, 2019 at the Kalubihan Barangay Hall.


Janryl was born in Cebu City and raised in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental.

In Cebu City, the family lived with their relatives in Barangay Labangon. At some point, the family also considered the stalls of “Tabo sa Banay” in downtown Cebu as their home.

The family later moved to Alubijid town where Janryl finished his elementary education at the Lourdes Elementary School and graduated as class valedictorian.

He completed his secondary education at the Alubijid Comprehensive National High School, where he graduated top of his class.

In Alubijid, they lived in houses owned by their relatives. To this day, he clearly remembers them: bamboo poles and metal roofing sheets.

The family faced a major challenge when his two siblings, an older brother and younger brother, passed away five years apart from each other.

Their deaths were due to dengue fever, a mosquito-born disease caused by a virus carried by Aedes mosquitoes.

Sadness gleamed in Janryl’s eyes as he narrated this painful part of his childhood. After sharing about his brother, he veered the conversation away from his family.

Instead, he talked about his decision to leave Alubijid in 2014 to come to Cebu and study to become a civil engineer. He said the town’s college was not offering the course then.

It was his dream of building their own house that inspired him to take up the course with the goal of ending up as licensed engineer in the future.

This photo was taken after Nilda and Jerry joined their son, Janryl Tan, up on stage to accept his medal as a Cum Laude graduate of the University of Cebu with a degree in Civil Engineering. | Contributed Photo/ Eve Tenebroso Judilla

Unexpected turn

To fulfill his dream of becoming a civil engineer, Janryl realized that it would mean paying the university between P19,000 and P23,000 as monthly tuition fee.

He had no idea where to source that amount of money to pay for his school fees.

Later in the interview, his face lit up as he shares how luck seemed to be on his side when he was informed that he was chosen to be part of a scholarship grant from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

This meant that CHED will give him P15,000 per semester.

Still,  the scholarship grant was not enough to pay for the rest of the tuition fee and books. He also needed money for his daily needs, which include food and and transportation expenses.

In Cebu City, Janryl and his father live on the fourth floor of the Kalubihan Barangay Hall. His father works as part of the Lupon Tagapamayapa (Pacification Committee) in Barangay Kalubihan, where he earns P2,000 as his monthly honorarium from barangay funds and P4,000 from the Cebu City Government.

But since his father is also spending for his sister Jade’s education, Janryl saw the need to look for another source of income.

It was Carmilo Millan, Kalubian’s former barangay captain, who suggested to his father that Janryl can work as a barangay tanod (village watchman) for their community.

Janryl admits that he was surprised when his father asked him to wear his old red uniform.

“Na-shock ko kay gipasul-ob dayon ko… dako kaayo. But knowing the situation, wala ko nibalibad kay kinahanglanon kaayo nako baya,” he says.

(I was shocked when my father asked me to wear the uniform. It was too big for me. But knowing the situation, I did not refuse the job because I really needed the income.)

In 2014, Janryl officially became a barangay tanod.

He was 18 years old.

Tanod’s risks

As a barangay tanod, Janryl receives a monthly honorarium of P2,500 from the barangay and P4,000 from the Cebu City Government. Last year, he started receiving a monthly honorarium of P2,000 for serving as treasurer of Kalubihan’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).

SK Chairman Patrick Louanne Caballes confirmed that Janryl was appointed to serve as SK treasurer post on July 2018.

Janryl describes himself as “patient and friendly” as a barangay tanod.

His work as barangay tanod starts at 5 p.m. and ends at midnight.

Janryl admits that his job is risky especially when they apprehend people carrying deadly weapons.

As a barangay tanod, he also serves as a desk officer and is in-charge of the barangay blotter. He also monitors the closed-circuit television (CCTV) system as part of his job.

This poster was shared by Garry Lao, executive director of the Cebu City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (COSAP), in his Facebook account. COSAP works closely with the barangay tanods in reaching the goal of a substance-free Cebu City.  Lao said Tan is an inspiration to all tanods.

Support system

Tan recognizes the kindness of his classmates and co-workers in the barangay hall, who would readily lend him money whenever he needs it.

“Sa ilaha ko mo utang, classmates and even diri (barangay hall) para kaon lang,”he said.

(My classmates and co-workers lend me money which I use to buy food.)

He is also thankful for his co-workers, who agreed that he can take on a shift that fits with his class schedules.

Not many people in school knows that Janryl is a barangay tanod.

Janryl says he is a regular student, who only made it to the Dean’s List only once.

So he was surprised when he learned that he graduated with latin honors with a general weighted average of 1.659.

With his recent success, Janryl hopes to become an inspiration to working and self-supporting students.

He says those who want to finish their studies should trust themselves that they can make it. He says there is a need to persevere especially in the midst of trials and challenges.

The ability to practice smart time management is also a skill that working students need to possess.

“Do not allow negative thoughts to cloud your mind and then push you to quit,” he says.

Janryl says it is also important to value people, who give their all-out support in your journey.

“Dili (unta) nila sayangon ang support ug pagsalig nga gihatag sa ilang parents ug sa mga tawo nga nitabang nila,”he says.

(I hope they do not waste the support and trust given by their parents, friends and supporters.)

In the midst of all the media frenzy about his story, Janryl says he is most thankful to God, whom he describes as the One who helped him survive the journey.

After college graduation, Janryl will focus on areviewing for the board examination on November 2019.

Will he still continue to work as a barangay tanod?

“I am not certain right now but they (barangay officials) told me I can still continue being one,” he says. / celr

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