Staff of the month: Virgil Raquipiso

Alyssa Zhong, Sports Editor

First, I’d like to appreciate the entire DV custodial staff, but one that’s especially impacted my life is Virgil Raquipiso, the wonderful custodian of the 2000 building. I’m guessing about 99.99 percent of you might not know who he is, but if you linger in the juniors’ building 15 to 20 minutes after school, you may be lucky enough, as I have been, to have a conversation with him.

There I was, sitting in the hallway with my laptop, telling myself I couldn’t go home until I wrote the first paragraph of my essay, when in walked Virgil with a mop and a Walkman playing a-ha’s “Take On Me”. After a couple minutes, he asked, “What are you still doing here?” — not in an accusatory, “Get up; I need to mop where you’re sitting” way, but in an “I’m genuinely curious” way. I told him about the essay; he told me to hang in there, and that was basically our conversation. I know our encounter seems pretty unspectacular, but the fact he asked a stranger, like he wanted to make sure I was okay, surprised me. From then on, whenever I saw Virgil, he’d always smile, say hello, ask me about my day or plans and continue to mop while playing his 80’s music.

Virgil is quite possibly the happiest person on campus. He’s always smiling and laughing, and most of the time at his own linguistic errors: his English isn’t the best because he lived in the Philippines for most of life and moved here so his kids would have more opportunities. In fact, he claimed his English wasn’t proficient enough and declined my request for a Staff of the Month interview, shouting and laughing, “Nooooooooo English!”, as he walked away with his mop. It was weird.

When I explained what had happened to two other custodians and interviewed them for Virgil’s information, they knowingly looked at each other and chuckled, like the hilarity of the entire situation was so characteristic of Virgil. DV’s  head custodian, Sergio — plot twist — spoke to him in Spanish. Turns out Virgil learned Spanish from the other custodians and tries to learn a new word every day. I jokingly offered to do an interview with my high school level Spanish, but again, he laughed and declined. After hearing five custodians claim that Virgil’s English was better than theirs, I came to the conclusion that Virgil just didn’t want the spotlight, which seems unfortunate to me, because custodians are rarely rewarded for their hard work.

But what I did find out from my interviews is that Virgil worked as a custodian at California High for four years before coming to Dougherty. He has two daughters in college in Southern California, and takes his wife out for dinner every Sunday. He loves going to parks with his beloved dog and visiting Las Vegas. Once,  he took a leaf blower and blew Sergio’s face. He’s also an outgoing person who always jokes around and tries to have a good time, but I figured that out on my own.

Virgil is more than just a custodian. He’s become a dependable companion who actually cares about the well-being of Dougherty students. But only if people stop pretending he’s invisible will we truly see the wonderful person he is.