Jesse Robredo made impossible possible–Aquino
NAGA CITY, Philippines—They did not want to commemorate Jesse Robredo’s death but the kind of life that he had led.
Which was why Jesse Robredo Day, the third anniversary of the tragic death of the city’s longest-serving mayor on Tuesday, took on a fiesta atmosphere with young people organizing a “tsinelas” (flip-flops) run and a concert, despite the presence of heavyweight politicians from Manila led by President Aquino.
“It was a celebration of his life and legacy, the kind of commemoration the family wanted,” said Camarines Sur Rep. Leni G. Robredo, Jesse’s widow.
Leni said her late husband would have been very happy with the “Neon Night Tsinelas Run,” which the congresswoman and her daughter Tricia joined on Monday night.
Participants, wearing tsinelas representing Robredo’s good governance down-to-earth brand of public service and glowing neon bands and colored powder on their heads, ran the 3 kilometers from the Eternal Gardens, where Robredo is buried, to Plaza Quezon, where a concert, “Jess Mabalos”—a play on the Bicolano expression of thanks “Dios Mabalos” (God will repay), was staged.
Early Tuesday, a thanksgiving Mass and wreath-laying were held at Eternal Gardens. This was followed by a Jesse Robredo Day commemorative program on the Naga City Hall grounds.
Some 2,000 residents from Naga and neighboring towns flocked to Eternal Gardens to pay tribute to Robredo, a Ramon Magsaysay laureate whose untimely death in a plane crash on Aug. 18, 2012, sparked calls for good governance and nationalism.
Not just theories
“What Jesse did… was not just theories about what we could do. He showed us that it could be done,” President Aquino said at the multisectoral forum.
“Those who would follow in his footsteps would no longer be explorers because they know there’s already a successful formula,” he said in Filipino.
“In one sentence, what he showed us is that the impossible can really be possible. That’s the lesson we can learn from him,” Aquino said.
The President said that what he admired most about Robredo was his program to address the perennial problem of illegal settlers in the country.
“Jesse formulated our informal settlers program. He said, ‘In Naga, we were able to solve that. We even took care of the children of the informal settlers. We also attended to the livelihood concerns of those who might go to (Naga) and start the problem of informal settlers anew,’” Aquino said.
Three years ago, Robredo was returning to Naga from Cebu City when the small plane he was on crashed into the waters off Masbate, killing Robredo, the pilot, Capt. Jessup Bahinting, and copilot, Kshitiz Chand, of Nepal. Robredo’s policeman aide survived.
Aquino recalled that his conversation with Robredo’s family that day was one of his most difficult tasks as President.
“I was really restless that day. It was another tragedy in the month of August. I was thinking then how we should explain to Leni and her children what happened,” Aquino said.
Death of Ninoy
The death of his father, the martyred opposition leader Benigno Aquino Sr. and the discovery of Robredo’s body, which both happened on Aug. 21, must have been fate, the President said.
“In different ways, they both proved that ‘the Filipino is worth dying for.’ If Jesse was among the Filipinos whose love for the country was triggered by the death of my father, I am sure that many were inspired by what Jesse showed us,” Aquino said.
“The best way for us to show our gratitude to Jesse and the other great individuals who came before him is to continue and improve what they have left us. With their life, death and sacrifices, they showed us what’s possible,” he said.
The occasion became a show of force for the ruling Liberal Party (LP)—of which Robredo was a member, as is his widow—with members of the Cabinet joining the President for the commemorative program. LP leaders, led
by the party’s presumptive presidential standard bearer Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and other party allies were seated in a half-circle under tents positioned to face Robredo’s bust on the city hall grounds.
Among the Cabinet members were Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Health Secretary Janette Garin.
Also present were deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte and presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles.
But some local officials were turned off by the display of tarpaulins with the names and faces of Camarines Norte Rep. Catherine Barcelona Reyes and Roxas on the main road and entrance to the cemetery.–Juan Escandor Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon; and Marlon Ramos
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