Napolcom staff remember Robredo: He liked ‘putok,’ ‘Aristo-Back’By Niña Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Employees and officials of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) honored the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo with a posthumous award yesterday, sharing some good laughs about what a tightwad and simple guy he was.
Napolcom personnel fondly remembered him as the agency’s top official who would go to a nearby bakery for his favorite “putok,” a hard-crust bread glazed with sugar worth P4 each, and to a “turo-turo” (eatery) to buy his lunch, said Christina Tan, Napolcom’s public information office.
She said the employees called the eatery “Aristo-Back,” a pun on the name of a well-known restaurant in Manila.
Robredo preferred not to ask someone in the office for such errands because he loved to walk, go around and talk to ordinary folk in the vicinity, Tan said.
“He knew the people here very well. After his death, the owner of the eatery nearby was so eager to go to Naga City. She felt she had lost someone close to her,” Tan said.
Robredo died with the pilot and copilot when the light plane carrying them crashed in the sea off Masbate on August 18. Robredo’s police aide survived.
On Wednesday morning, a plaque of distinction was conferred on Robredo in a ceremony attended by the agency’s commissioners and Nicanor Bartolome, the Philippine National Police (PNP) director general.
As the head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for two years, Robredo served as the ex-officio chairman of the Napolcom, an agency that has control and supervision over the PNP.
Robredo’s widow, Maria Leonor “Leni,” with their youngest daughter Jillian, accepted the plaque handed over by Napolcom vice chairman Eduardo Escueta, before some 200 employees.
“Siguro alam nyo na na sobrang kuripot ng asawa ko (Perhaps you already know that my husband was such a cheapskate),” Leni, a lawyer, said in her speech, drawing laughter from the crowd.
“He wore the DILG uniform every day because he only had a few clothes. He was happy he no longer had to pick which clothes to wear,” she said.
Dried fish, pancit canton
He also loved ordinary food as much as he despised hotel food. Leni said her husband would text her to tell their househelp to cook “daing” (dried fish) for him when he did not enjoy the food at the hotel.
“Here in Manila, he loved to eat only three things: Barbecue, fried chicken and pancit canton,” Leni said.
Leni said that when Robredo assumed the post as DILG chief, he would complain to her how expensive the haircut in Metro Manila was.
Safeguard public funds
Robredo’s frugality and simplicity could be rooted in one principle. “He would always tell me that one who is in government should safeguard the government funds as if it were his own,” Leni said.
“So, one will also try to use it wisely,” she added.
Leni said Robredo seemed to have known that he would soon leave them so he always told them that what had been started should be institutionalized. She said her husband would always say “Lilipas din ako (I will also fade away).”
“The best way to honor him is to follow his example,” she told the employees of the Napolcom, which according to her, was the office her husband always wanted to go to whenever he was upset or tired.
Multiply his acts
Escueta called on the employees to “multiply (Robredo’s) acts. “The plane crash, his death, is a reflection of what we are now asked to do,” he said.
In between testimonies reminiscing their moments with Robredo, the Napolcom employees, led by their choral group, sang the late secretary’s favorite songs—“Betcha by Golly, Wow” and “Simply Jesse”—which left some in the multipurpose hall of the Napolcom teary-eyed.