Below are the recent blog posts about the late Sec. Robredo. Divide the tasks accordingly with your pair.
As of this writing, the Aquino administration has declared a National Day of Mourning for Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo who perished in a crash last Saturday afternoon. Though the aircraft wreckage has already been found, as of press time, the family of Capt. Jessup Bahinting and his Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand are still waiting for them to be recovered and returned to Cebu.
Meanwhile, all the major TV networks are all praises for Sec. Robredo for his exemplary lifestyle and commitment to serve his people. Watching his life story unfold on nationwide TV, one can see his greatness was during his days as Mayor of Naga City, which when he took over as Mayor was on the verge of bankruptcy. Those video footages of then Mayor Robredo walking the streets of Naga City wearing jeans and a t-shirt with no bodyguards shows his humility, that being Mayor of Naga, he truly showed to his constituents that he was… first and foremost, their servant.
In all honesty, Sec. Robredo wasn’t really a genius that he was able to turn things around for Naga. But what he had is something seriously lacking in most of our traditional politicians today…a genuine concern for their constituents. He was able to immerse himself in the needs of his people and learned from them what they needed the most. Indeed, most politicians vow to serve their poor constituents, but in the end, they end up extremely rich, while the poor remains to be poor.
It is for this reason why we need a new kind of politics that was exemplified by Sec. Jesse Robredo when he was still alive. I just hope that after the mourning period is over… we will hopefully never go back to our bad old days, where politicians literally fool their constituents, often buying their votes using our tax money.
It is for this reason why I have always believed that the pork barrel should have long been abolished… especially under the leadership of President Aquino who is espousing his “Daang Matuwid” program. But when I got that report from Malou Mangahas about the Pork Barrel, it turned out that the Pork Barrel kitty has been increased under Pres. PNoy.
I dare say that it is about time that we abolished the pork barrel permanently because if that money were given to many important projects… this nation can truly prosper. Today, too many people enter politics for the wrong reasons… and that wrong reason is the pork barrel, which a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate can “earn” P60 million annually or P200 million for a Senator. It is for this reason why there is no logic when politicians spend millions to earn a seat that pays a measly P30,000 a month. Surely by now… the majority of the Filipino people know this.
Meanwhile, here’s an email I got about Sec. Robredo, “Hi Bobit, Tell me, if Malacañang and the Legislators are all praising him to high heavens, why was Jesse Robredo never confirmed as Secretary of DILG? Until his death, he was just an acting Secretary. Now, they are even giving him a State Funeral, ordered flags at half-mast, and declared several days of mourning for the nation. Fantastic! Bobby Tordesillas.” Indeed this is food for thought. Now the Commission on Appointments (CA) and those who opposed the confirmation of Sec. Robredo must be hiding their red faces away from the media for not confirming a man that the nation has mourned.
At this point, I heard that the CAAP would once again stop the operations of Avia Tours to investigate the cause of the crash. This is the problem when an agency is tasked to regulate aviation and then becomes an investigative body. If you didn’t know, there is only one Piper Seneca II in Avia Tour’s stable of aircraft… so suspending their operations is the wrong way to go, because no other aircraft is under any threat of crashing.
I have written time and time again, suggesting to Congress to propose a law creating the National Transportation Safety Board of the Philippines (NTSBP), which is an independent body that investigate air, ship or bus crashes. But those columns have always fallen on deaf ears. I dare say for Congress to prioritize this bill so that Sec. Robredo wouldn’t have died in vain. Let me point out that small planes do not have a Blackbox (it’s actually colored orange), which could trace the final moments of the aircraft. So investigating a crash like the Piper Seneca can only be checked if the wreckage is raised from the bottom of the sea so that the engine can be inspected.
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The Jesse Robredo in me
The recent events surrounding the untimely demise of our Kaya Natin co-founder, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, has sent the Filipino people on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. We were gripped with fear, hope, anxiety, denial, anguish, resignation and acceptance. All these have now settled into complete surrender to our God Almighty whose omnipotence and great mercy we plead to for strength during this painful ordeal.
A fellow KN core member and BCDA President, Arnel Casanova, said that he did not realize it was possible for a man to be the cause of a deep ache in his chest. He likened it to being rebuffed during courtship. My brows lifted with a soft chuckle at the analogy as we struggled to grasp the finality of Sec Jess being gone. In truth, I was ready to release the floodgates of my tears (once again), howl at the moon and weep with heart wrenching sobs at the seemingly unfair treatment that fate dished out to my Kaya Natin family.
I can continue on until the end of this article with nothing other than expressions of sorrow and lamentations that mirror the sentiments of a grieving nation. However, this will not be an accurate reflection of Jesse Robredo‘s character. I seriously doubt if he shares my penchant for melodramatics. He may just creep into my dreams tonight to hammer some sense into my head. I can almost hear his encouraging words to each one of us in his Kaya Natin family. “Whenever you feel alone in this fight for good governance, work harder to multiply yourself”. This is exactly what he did.
The outpouring of grief that spread throughout our country in the passing away of our beloved Secretary Jesse Robredo was something that I didn’t expect. When I first joined the KN crusade, the phrase” good governance” was mere words descriptive of an illusion. We were called dreamers living in a world of make believe. I held on tightly to our sanctuary as we spread the word of good governance. We found ways to create programs that would reach out to the poor and rekindle the fire of hope for a government that would truly care for its people.
Secretary Robredo’s brand of leadership was effective, transparent and participatory. He didn’t believe in a single individual having a monopoly of brilliant ideas and was prepared to engage anyone in an exchange of opinion until a collective decision is arrived at. I distinctly recall the first KN Strategic Planning Retreat that I attended. I found myself seated beside Sec Jess who was in an animated discussion with Sen. TG Guingona, Gov Grace Padaca, Among Gov Panlilio, Cong Bolet Banal, Cong Teddy Baguilat, Cong Kaka Bag-ao, ULAP Executive Director Sonia Lorenzo, Board Member Shirlyn Macasarte, Mayor Jun Verzosa , other KN Champions and Core Group members. He was lounging lazily on his seat and he’d kicked off his slippers happily crossing his ankles and listening to everyone. I was enjoying the flow of thoughts and easy banter around the room. Ranks and titles were transcended as value for individual opinion was given due respect. I slouched deep into my seat content with being an observer at all that was transpiring until I got poked with an elbow by Sec Jess who was seated to my right. He looked at me with a grin and asked me to say something. I found it difficult to believe that he was genuinely interested to hear what I had to say. I was struggling with composing intelligent thoughts that I should have just recited the Desiderata if it was going to impress this man. I had a dumbstruck look on my face and all I could say was “pass” and pointed to Harvey who was seated on my left. I wanted to hide in embarrassment thinking that the guys seated around the table probably thought I was playing Black Jack. Subsequently, I learned that this was part of the Jesse Robredo persona – a genuine individual with no intention to impress. He was an open and honest man
He was also very mindful of individual predicaments. Sec Jess was aware that I have a regular job which meant that I would be in my office during working hours. Two months ago I received a text message from him. It said “Kindly text if you can take a call”. I almost fell off my seat because I didn’t think that someone of his stature would be humble enough to seek my permission. A few days before he died, he personally called up an auntie of mine who was texting him encouraging messages. She couldn’t believe it. My auntie, Divina Lao, was in cloud nine with joy. She was speaking 200 words per minute, hardly skipping a beat, when she rattled off her story to me. He was a very humble man.
In his early months as the DILG Secretary, Jess Lorenzo (a fellow KN Core Group member) and I had the privilege of representing Kaya Natin at a gathering of Civil Society Organizations, Non-Government Organizations and People’s Organizations where the Department launched the Seal of Good Housekeeping program and the Full Disclosure Policy. I was surprised to see all the international funding agencies aptly represented in the event. The Country Director of the World Bank expressed his full support to this endeavour to push for transparency and accountability. Internationally acclaimed institutions such as AUSAID, USAID, GIZ, JICA, CODE NGO and many others all sang praises to the newly appointed DILG Secretary and spoke very highly of his achievements as Mayor of Naga City. He took his responsibilities seriously and worked diligently to improve the quality of governance in our country.
There were occasions when we would gather together casually just to catch up on how each one was doing. I wouldn’t forget that faithful Saturday afternoon two years ago when my Kaya Natin family was gathered in the porch of my home for a simple lunch to discuss our plans and celebrate my birthday. It was very informal. Harvey Keh casually said Sec Jess might drop by because he was overwhelmed with work and was looking for sanctuary too. I just nodded my head but deep inside I was saying to myself “Yeah right, Harvs, stop pulling my leg.” After about 30 minutes, Sec Robredo climbs up my staircase with his two daughters and said “Balita ko may pagkain daw dito” (I heard there is food here). He grabbed a plate, gave each of his daughters one and feasted on our leftovers without complaint. Over lunch he talked about his problems as DILG Secretary and the challenges that he faced. He never pretended that he had the solutions to everything. He made us understand that he too was an ordinary Filipino like the rest of us needing help and encouragement to continue the fight for good governance.
More importantly, Secretary Robredo never missed an opportunity to remind us that he was a friend. ULAP Executive Director, Sonia Lorenzo, stated that whenever she was demoralized because of the challenges that we faced in this journey, Sec Jess would say “Hey, you have a friend here”. On a personal note, he confronted me with a statement saying that I would be a hypocrite if my pursuit to propagate our advocacy allowed me to help many Filipinos yet I shied away from those that I hold most dear – the people of my province, Southern Leyte. I had to dig into my box of excuses to say that I had neither funds nor logistics to confront the giants of corruption in my home. He pulled me aside one day and said “Go home. Why do you need money? You have Kaya Natin and you have me.” I walked away convinced that I was adequately equipped with the tools that I needed for battle. This has strengthened my resolve to pursue the dream for a better province and a better nation. Sec Jesse Robredo was a pillar of strength.
On this note, I say that he paved the way to greatness from the seeds of simplicity, humility and integrity. He practiced the values that Kaya Natin espoused – effective, ethical and empowering leadership. If there is anything that we, at Kaya Natin unanimously agreed to do, it is to continue what is no known to be the Robredo legacy.
I stand tall and proud to proclaim that Sec Jess has planted the seed of patriotism within me. I’ve searched for so many days for an explanation and meaning to this inexplicable tragedy. I have found only one. It is to accept the wisdom of an omniscient God who has made certain that Jesse Robredo’s mission on earth has been accomplished. The millions of Jesse Robredo seeds that have been planted in our country will be nurtured and its fruits will be the building blocks which he says will be painstakingly piled up one by one until we build that proper structure that can propel this nation to greatness.
God speed to our beloved Kaya Natin co-founder, Jesse Robredo, on your final journey home to the Father. Your life was a testimony of true dedication to our country. In one of my last text messages to you, I said that I will strive to be a Kaya Natin Champion just like you. You have my word…
Marisa Lerias is originally from Southern Leyte and currently works with the Philippine office of British Airways. She is also part of the core group of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership.
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After reading the following blog posts, post your answers to the following questions below. If there are questions, ask 3 of your classmates first before asking the teacher.
- What Kingdom-messages drawn from the parables we took up do you see reflected in the anecdotes about Sec. Robredo? (Give 2 answers.)
- What new insights into the Kingdom of God and Christian Discipleship, their invitations and challenges, does his life give?
FORMAT IN POSTING YOUR ANSWERS:
<Surname, First name>, <Section>, <Date>
Go, Derrick & Lim, Jed, H2L, 9.2.12 – 1.) Answer answer answer
2.) Answer answer answer.