“For everything there is a season”, so goes the saying or wisdom of the ages so-to-speak.
That plane crash off Masbate island, late in the afternoon of 18th August 2012, took the life of Secretary Jessie M. Robredo. Three days after his body was recovered the Filipino nation grieved with the Robredo family. What a great loss for the Filipino nation, for public service and more particularly for good governance.
Sec. Jesse Robredo was an epitome of good governance that is why those who have known him for quite some time have only un-ending praises for him. But why do praises for good deeds always come after the person was gone? Why can’t we emulate the good deeds/examples of a person while he is still alive? If he is indeed good, why was his appointment not confirmed to this day? Is it because the good is always an enemy of the bad? Many more questions can be asked but there is no use making a long queue of questions that do not have answers anyway.
In our small way, we can do few but significant things to immortalize the man’s shining examples and selfless devotion to public service so that they continue to be emulated, and more importantly, followed by other public officials (some of them don’t want to be called public servants). This is where the media of all sorts (broadcasts, journalism, blogging, social networks, etc.) can do a lot to spread the “Robredo tsinelas brand of public service” so that it can have its implant in the deepest recesses of the Filipino psyche hoping that this may redefine public service.
I would like to be inspired by Jesse Robredo’s examples and other good deeds and strive to live by them but I have only limited knowledge of those good deeds and examples. It is for this reason that I am compiling a select portion of eulogies by people who are close to him because they are the living testimonies to the good deeds of the man. Service beyond personal gain is hard to find but it is always contagious and inspiring.
As Secretary Jessie M. Robredo is laid to rest in his hometown of Naga City on August 28, 2012 let us remember him in ways that would immortalize his good deeds and shining examples so that they will truly live as legacy to the Filipino people.
Here are some of the select portions of these testimonies and eulogies for Sec. Jesse Robredo:
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III: (Aug. 21, 2012)
“The nation has lost one of its great leaders and public servants. His many virtues as a public servant have permanently earned for him the gratitude of the City he led and the Republic he served.”
Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Vina: “Do not just demand good governance but strive to be like him”
“The Persian poet Rumi wrote, ‘Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.’ In losing Jesse Robredo we have lost friend and champion, but we should not lose faith, hope, and love in our country and our fellow human being that he had. As many testimonials have offered, the best way to celebrate his life is to emulate his life, and share it with others. To become like him, not just in demanding good governance, but in working towards it: every man and woman a Robredo, whatever our station in life. In memory of a good friend, perhaps it’s important to remind ourselves that we are not powerless, that we have the resources to make good governance possible. Robredo has done so for Naga and the DILG—why can’t others both in and out of government do so for our own cities, for our country? Why can’t Naga’s and Robredo’s DILG story, and his story, be our country’s story as well?
“Far better than to mourn death is to celebrate life that was lived. This should now be the rallying cry we offer to the memory of such an amazing life.”
DOE Sec. Rene Almendres: “He did not seek greatness but greatness sought him”
“I met the late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo in 2010 in his hometown in Naga. We were in a mall where our Shell Active Chess competition for the youth was being held. I spotted Sec Jesse donning his signature shirt, shorts and tsinelas. We were having merienda in one of the local fast food chains, where he was waiting for his takeout food for his family. I approached him and told him how I admired him for his great work. He offered a smile and had no hint of pride at all in his demeanor, oblivious to his own his greatness of spirit. He was just a simple man doing his job, and on that weekend, he was an ordinary family man who was enjoying a leisurely weekend, just like everyone else.”
“A very simple and unassuming man, Robredo wasn’t one to hog the limelight, but was known to be a quiet and conscientious worker who earned the respect of those around him through the honorable life he lived.”
“I learned from the people behind the Ramon Magsasay Awards Foundation (RMAF) that it is not like the usual awards where aspiring awardees nominate themselves for the recognition. The Ramon Magsasaysay Awards, often considered as Asia’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize, particularly gives honor to men and women who have achieved distinction in their respective fields and have helped others generously without anticipating public recognition. The RMAF keeps their eyes and ears open, following the trail of greatness left by people who follow the example of former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay, a man who exemplified integrity in government, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society. Without their knowing, the candidates for the Ramon Magsaysay awards are carefully studied and observed by the RMAF through a rigorous research and verifying process on the candidates’ quality of character and their genuine transformational contributions to society. To be a laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards is even a higher distinction, and Jesse Robredo was among those whose lives stood out among the rest, and this we recognize today.”
Janina Patricia Robredo (Sec. Robredo’s second daughter) during the necrological service for her father at Naga City Hall
“Have you ever wondered why he was so good? If you ask me, my answer is he was good because he knows how to love. He loved his job and he loved the people.”
DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman: “Deep love for each other carried the Robredo family through in their time of grief and sorrow”
“And many people have been asking, ang tapang ni Leni, ang galing-galing, ang mga anak niya si Aika, si Tricia, at si Jillian, they are so composed. You know what, my interaction with them for several days, my conclusion: they and the rest of the family, it’s this deep love they have for each other that’s carrying them through. It’s that love that makes them who they are now and so we thank you for sharing that love.”
“So Jesse, alam mo, ito naman ‘yung palagi mong sinasabi so sige na, sige na, pahinga ka na. Sige na, sige na, itutuloy namin ang pagpapanday ng demokrasya. Sige na, sige na, tutulungan namin sila Leni, huwag kang mag-alala. At sige na, sige na, itutuloy namin ang matapat, mahusay at matuwid na paglilingkod sa sambayanan. Paalam.”
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. (Aug. 21, 2012)
“It is fitting and proper that the State render honor to the late Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, commensurate with the people’s affection and admiration for him.”
Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S. J. (P-Noy’s spiritual adviser)
“Jesse was a pure gift of God to P-Noy’s administration since its beginnings, who shared his experience of good governance from day one, sustained it, remained steadfast and true when criticized and challenged… when I heard of the accident, I had a feeling that Jesse was ready for the welcome words of the Lord: Jesse you have done much good and have been truly my faithful servant. Enter my Kingdom!
Ateneo de Manila University (Aug. 21, 2012)
“I have faith that God will give us many other great men. Jesse from heaven will make sure. Still we grieve, oh, we grieve…”
“Together with his family, the City of Naga, and the entire Filipino nation, the Ateneo de Manila community most profoundly mourns the passing away of the late Jesse Manalastas Robredo, Secretary of Interior and Local Government of the Republic of the Philippines (2010 to 2012), Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service (2000), Mayor of naga City for 18 years, alumnus of the Ateneo de Naga, loving husband of Attorney Maria Leonor (Leni) Gerona-Robredo and loving father of Jessica Marie (BSME 2008), Janine Patricia (3BSHealth Sciences), and Jillian Therese (Naga City Science High School). Truly, a good and decent servant-leader and family man has been lost to us all.”
“Despite his untimely demise, the University prays that his exemplary career in public service will inspire many others to step up to the plate of good governance in approximation of the inimitable way Secretary Jesse did, and to continue his campaign for progressive government service and authentic national development.”
US Ambassador Harry Thomas (Aug. 22, 2012) “We will miss our friendship and partnership with Secretary Robredo, as he dedicated himself to bettering the lives of the Filipino people. We stand with the people and government of the Philippines at this difficult time, and are prepared to assist the Philippine government in the aftermath of this tragic accident.”
Canadian Ambassador Christopher Thornley (Aug. 22, 2012)
“He was an icon of change and a passionate advocate of good governance. Secretary Robredo is recognized for his contributions to government transparency and democratic development — values that Canada strongly shares with the Philippines.”