[PHOTO -SENDOFF RITES President Aquino watches honor guards carry
the flag-draped casket of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo during the departure
ceremony at Malacañang on Sunday. Robredo's remains were flown to his hometown,
Naga City, on the same day. Beside the President are the late Cabinet member's
wife, Leni, and daughters Aika, Patricia and Jillian. GRIG
MANILA, AUGUST 27, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Michael Lim Ubac, TJ Burgonio -
Whether responding to disasters or planning how to rescue flood victims at
emergency Cabinet meetings, Jesse Robredo would always turn up looking so cool
in tsinelas (rubber slippers). The image defined him, and Energy Secretary Rene
Almendras, speaking at a necrological service for the late secretary of the
interior in Malacañang on Saturday night, called it Robredo's "tsinelas brand of

It was the last night of the state vigil for Robredo in the Palace and
members of the Cabinet gave their departed colleague a merry, song-filled
tribute before his family took his body back to his hometown in Naga City on
Sunday morning.

The colleague Cabinet members called "Pogi"—handsome —died in a plane crash
in Masbate province on August 18, leaving President Aquino suddenly without a
popular and respected ally to handle the consolidation of local power as his
administration faced its first local and congressional elections next year.

Cabinet secretaries, along with Vice President Jejomar Binay and Executive
Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., remembered Robredo in songs, laughter and speeches.

As mourners filed past Robredo's bier at Kalayaan Hall, they performed
Robredo's favorite songs in between eulogies, drawing smiles from the
President and Robredo's widow, Leni, and daughters Aika, Patricia and


[PHOTO -Sec. Jesse Robredo made Naga a maogmang (happy)
lugar. Let's all pray for his safety so he can make the country a truly maogmang
lugar. (Cover study of the Naga City Coffee Table Book, 2009) fb JanRev Lorenzana Davila]
In his eulogy titled "Tsinelas," Almendras recalled that when Aquino called
an emergency meeting in the military headquarters in the aftermath of the August
7 massive flooding in the capital, he was amused to see Robredo looking so cool
in rubber slippers.

Days later, he said, when the President and the Cabinet officials motored to
evacuation centers, Robredo disappeared from the van, but showed up later on
stage, wearing slippers. Robredo came prepared, as they waded in floods at the
entrance to a school in Valenzuela City.

"He'd tell me: 'Pare, this is the right footwear for floods. Flood victims
use slippers,'" Almendras said. He described Robredo's tsinelas leadership as a
"pragmatic" and "a more demonstrative version of servant leadership."

As Almendras sees it, Robredo's leadership has many features. The first,
Almendras said, is willingness to wade in floods and travel to the most
far-flung areas "to be with the most disadvantaged people."

"We all know Secretary Jesse rarely said no. That's why he was one of the
most well-traveled Cabinet members. He went to many places where some of us
could not go to," he said.

The presence of mourners from Mindanao during the first night of the vigil on
Friday was a testament to how far Robredo would go "just to reach people," he

Another characteristic of Robredo's leadership, he said, was breaking down
the barriers "between us and the people we serve."

"Many years ago, a young architect told me: I will design it so nicely so
that those shod in slippers will be shy to get in. We're here in Malacañang;
we're here at Kalayaan Hall. Look around you. This place was not designed for
tsinelas. And yet last night, and throughout most of today, how many thousands
of slippers came into this room to pay tribute, to pay homage and honor to
Secretary Jesse?" Almendras said, referring to the mourners filing into the
American-era hall to pay their last respects to Robredo.

"Leaders must be acceptable, accessible to those they serve. That was
Secretary Jesse Robredo," he added.

And, of course, what is tsinelas leadership but being casual with people?

Almendras said: "But really wearing slippers is the most casual form. Being
casual is being warm. Leaders must be casual with the people they serve so that
they can listen, hear and empathize with the people that they serve. That was
Secretary Jesse Robredo in its truest form."

More important, this kind of leadership all boils down to base-level
transformation, he said.

"It's about transforming the expectations of people from their leaders so
that the next set of leaders will be better than the good ones we now have.
Tsinelas leadership is about working on the basics, no frills, something as
uncomplicated and casual as the tsinelas but with a very, very clear vision.
That was Secretary Jesse Robredo," Almendras said.

Genuine concern

A day before Robredo died, Almendras said he got a call from the interior
secretary who sounded so concerned about why floodwaters in Bulacan, a province
north of Manila, had not subsided and what could be done about it.

Almendras said he promised to bring it up with Public Works Secretary Rogelio

"The very last line he told me was: 'All right, pare. Our countrymen are
really in a pitiful state.' That is tsinelas leadership. A genuine concern and
care for the people that we serve. That is Secretary Jess Robredo in its true
context," Almendras said.

Robredo was wearing slippers long before flip-flops and Havaianas became
fashionable, Almendras said.

"My wish and prayer is the tsinelas leadership begun by Secretary Jess will
become fashionable," he said. Then turning to Robredo's widow, he said:
"Attorney Len, Pogi is also a fashion trendsetter. It won't be far-fetched for
candidates in 2013 to campaign in tsinelas. I hope this won't just be for
picture-taking. I hope they will step up to the standards that have been set by
Secretary Jess Robredo, and that they will be worthy to wear the tsinelas."

After the eulogies, the Cabinet officials rose from their seats and proceeded
to the front of the bier and, clutching copies of lyrics, they sang Robredo's
favorite songs, "Impossible Dream" and "My Way."

They ended Frank Sinatra's famous song with the lyrics: "It was Jesse's way."
Strategic Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang, the emcee, later said, "You
know, I always hated that song, but tonight I liked it."

The Cabinet dedicated their third and final song, The Stylistics' "Betcha by
Golly, Wow" to Leni Robredo, with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima leading. The
song was the Robredo couple's favorite.

At the start of the Cabinet memorial service, Noel Cabangon performed two
songs, setting the tone for a night of entertainment and laughter.

Earlier, during the Liberal Party's memorial service, Ogie Alcasid and
Christian Bautista sang gospel songs. This was capped by Bayang Barrios with
"Bayan Ko."

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Robredo's colleague in the Cabinet and in
the Liberal Party, said he and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima discussed the
meaning of Robredo's passing.

"Cesar remarked: 'Pare, what happened to Jesse is difficult … If we die, and
we don't get this kind of outpouring of grief, they might say we've done
nothing,'" he said, drawing laughter. "Maybe, you should immediately get

But then Abad said Robredo was a "tough act to follow," saying he set an
extraordinary standard as a public official, family man and servant of God.

"I, myself, have been grappling with this question and it's clear to me that
Jesse's death isn't the loss of this administration alone, it is the entire
country's. And our loss is defined first and foremost by Jesse's uncanny, almost
unmatched ability to navigate the delicate complexities of public service," he

A good man

The sum of his achievements was founded on a basic truth: That Jesse
was a "good man," Abad said.

He wondered if it was coincidence that Robredo's body was recovered on the
29th anniversary of the assassination of the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.
when he returned from exile in the United States on August 21.

"Perhaps, perhaps not. But judging from the grief that swept the nation,
judging from the public clamor for a new hero like Jesse, his passing invoked in
us a renewed sense of commitment in much the same way as Ninoy's death became
Jesse's impetus for public service," Abad said.

"And here we are now at the very cusp of a revolution that the unprecedented
election of our dear President Aquino into office catalyzed and which Jesse's
narrative further enhanced: A movement for effective, transparent and
accountable governance and a call for the empowerment of all Filipinos,
especially the poor and the disadvantaged," Abad said.

The three-day state vigil for Robredo in Malacañang ended Sunday morning,
with President Aquino leading departure honors for him at Kalayaan Hall before
his remains were flown back to his hometown.

Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said a predawn Mass prior to the
sendoff ceremonies on the Palace grounds.

The President, Leni Robredo and her children, and select members of the
Cabinet watched as an honor guard composed of 150 members of the Presidential
Security Group rendered departure honors, paying last respects to the late
interior secretary with a 19-gun salute.

The hearse bearing the remains of Robredo left Malacañang at about 7:25 a.m.
for Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, where planeside honors were given by the
Armed Forces of the Philippines before the remains were flown back to Naga.

The plane carrying Robredo's casket arrived at Naga Airport a little past 9
a.m. A series of necrological services was held, with public viewing commencing
at 6 p.m. and lasting until late Monday.

The President has declared Tuesday a nonworking holiday in Naga for Robredo's

The funeral Mass takes place at Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de
Peñafrancia at 10 a.m. Tuesday. It will be followed by the rendering of full
military honors at 11 a.m., and by the conclusion of the state funeral at
Funeraria Imperial, where Robredo's remains will be cremated.

Aquino will deliver a eulogy at the funeral.
Robredo 'more appreciated in death than in life'
By Juan Escandor Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon
NAGA CITY—Reflecting on the sudden death of Interior Secretary Jesse
M. Robredo, a Camarines Sur judge likened the longest-serving mayor of this city
to Jose Rizal, whose greatness was only appreciated when he was already gone.

Thrice bypassed by the Commission on Appointments for various reasons except
dirty politics, Robredo failed to assume the full powers of a Cabinet secretary.
His nomination unconfirmed, he died serving his post in an acting capacity.

Municipal Trial Court Judge Soliman Santos Jr., a former peace activist,
asked: "Is this syndrome part of our tragedy as a nation, which needs a regular
dose of tragic heroes like Ninoy Aquino, whose violent death is being
commemorated along with that of Jesse?"

Santos worked with Robredo in peace advocacies by civil society groups at the
height of the communist insurgency in Camarines Sur and the rest of Bicol from
the late 1980s to the 1990s, when Robredo was launching a career in politics.

Senator Joker Arroyo, who grew up in Naga and was here on Sunday, agreed that
Robredo was more appreciated in death than in life.

Arroyo said that when Robredo was still alive, he was being looked down even
though he worked at his job with dedication.

He said Robredo was not appreciated because in Manila he worked in a culture
where those who can pay for public relations get the publicity. Robredo, he
said, did not have money for public relations.

Arroyo said life had been unfair to Robredo. Only now that he is dead do
people speak kindly about his work, he said.

But it is a consolation for his family to find that Robredo is held bigger
than life after his death, Arroyo said.

Arroyo said he learned only after Robredo's death that the home affairs chief
did not bring his family to Manila to make his life convenient and enjoy the
perks that went with his Cabinet position.

Judge Santos said Robredo's death made this "a good time to be a Nagueño."

Robredo's legacy of good local government in Naga must give the nation hope,
he said.

"Perhaps, one insight here for the structure of governance is to restructure
it so that the locus of sovereignty of a very highly centralized
presidential-unitary system of government is significantly or qualitatively
devolved to the local levels—to better deal with problems at their respective
levels, rather than constantly and unreliably relying on the central government,
especially its all-powerful President," Santos said.

Santos said he considered Robredo courageous, bold and daring for supporting
the Nagueños' declaration of their city as a peace zone despite opposition from
the military and the New People's Army's seeing it as counterinsurgency tactic.

"The risks for Jess with his support for the Naga peace zone were underscored
by the fact that it was actually the country's first ever peace zone, still an
experimental concept," the judge said.

He said that people who have been living in Naga before Robredo was elected
mayor in 1988 could not but note the fast economic progress of the city, with
corresponding dynamic changes in its urban landscape.

"Those who had left or just visited the city during the pre-Robredo years
would hardly recognize it during the later Robredo years, except for some old
landmarks or haunts that are gladly still there for the Naga that we remember,"
he said.

He said Robredo had egalitarian ethics, and he was progressive not only in
the economic sense but also in the sense of balancing growth and equity for the

"Jesse has become legendary with all the stories told about his literally
down-to-earth conduct, especially in the equal importance treatment, whether at
work or otherwise, of city folk from all walks of life, and then his signature
casual T-shirt and walking shorts. But there is more substance than form to this
egalitarianism," Santos said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
rights reserved


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Follow us on Twitter:


To stop receiving our news items, please send a blank e-mail addressed to:

Please visit our homepage at:

(c) Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
-------------------------------------------------------------Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> Your email settings:
Individual Email | Traditional

<*> To change settings online go to:
(Yahoo! ID required)

<*> To change settings via email:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

PH Headline News Online. Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved