“Mission accomplished na siya sa mundong ito.” (He has accomplished his mission in this world.)
The wife of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said her husband often wondered if his works in the national government were appreciated. On the day he is laid to rest, Robredo got a resounding answer from his boss, President Benigno Aquino III.
Aquino paid a final tribute to Robredo, hailing him as a trailblazer in his administration’s campaign for a straight and narrow path.
Aquino delivered the eulogy for Robredo before a packed crowd of Robredo’s family, friends, Cabinet members, colleagues, supporters and well-wishers at the Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia in Naga City on Tuesday, August 28.
The President summed up the various roles Robredo played in his 54 years.
“Nawalan po ng asawa at ama ang kanyang pamilya; nawalan po ang bayan ng isang tapat at mahusay na pinuno. Nawalan po ako ng isang kapatid sa opisyal na pamilya sa Gabinete, ng kasangga sa mga ipinaglalaban, at ng kapartido,” Aquino said. (His family lost a husband and father; the nation lost a faithful and competent leader. I lost a brother in my official family in the Cabinet, a comrade in advocacies, a partymate.)
Ultimately, though, Aquino said his loss was personal.
“Nawalan po ako ng isang mabuting kaibigan.” (I lost a good friend.)
Aquino said during the hours Robredo’s body had not yet been recovered, he was hoping the Secretary would suddenly show up and apologize for getting everyone worried.
Robredo’s plane crashed off Masbate on August 18. Aquino led the search operations in Masbate. On August 21, divers recovered Robredo’s body.
HIGHEST HONOR. Leni Robredo receives the Legion of Honor award on behalf of her late husband from President Aquino.
‘What you see is what you get’
After days of tributes and testimonials from those close to Robredo, it was Aquino’s turn to answer the question: who was Robredo?
“Talaga pong huwarang lingkod-bayan si Jesse: nakatuon palagi sa kapwa at handang magsakripisyo. Sa lahat ng mga nakakausap ko, siya ang taong walang kapasepasensya sa bola. Kay Jesse, what you see is what you get.” (Jesse was truly a model public servant: focused on others and ready to sacrifice. Among the many I have talked to, he is the person who hates flattery. In Jesse, what you see is what you get.)
Aquino recalled fond times with Robredo, particularly when the Cabinet would unwind through songs. He said Robredo would look for someone to sing with and was happy to share the chorus with a colleague.
“Pinakabuo ang kanyang ngiti kapag pasampa na siya sa entablado; tawa po siya nang tawa.” (His smile was biggest when he is onstage. He kept laughing.)
Aquino said this memory represents Robredo’s brand of leadership.
“Hindi siya naging kuntento sa status quo; pinatunayan niya sa Naga na posible ang pagbabago. Posibleng madaig ang sistemang matagal nang nangingibabaw; posibleng madaig ang mga pulitikong napakatagal namayagpag at kinasangkapan ang pusisyon para sa pansariling interes.” (He was not content with the status quo; he showed in Naga that change is possible. He showed that the prevailing system can be overcome, that we can defeat politicians who have long ruled and used their position for their personal interest.)
Aquino added, “Trailblazer po si Jesse sa tuwid na daan. Pinatunayan niyang puwede palang magtagumpay sa pulitika nang hindi nagiging trapo.” (Jesse was a trailblazer in the straight and narrow path. He showed you can succeed in politics without being a traditional politician.)
As an alter ego, Aquino said Robredo was one of a kind. While there are those who wait for the President to take the lead in addressing problems, Robredo himself would take the initiative.
“Si Jesse po, kabilang sa mga bibihirang tao na ang sasabihin, ‘Sir, ako na lang ang haharap, ako na lang ang pu-pronta.’” (Jesse is among those who will say, ‘Sir, I will be the one to face this.’)
At the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the President said Robredo was a fast worker, whose policy was to do everything ASAP.
The President recalled the time that informal settlers asked for help via text message because it was flooding and they were in the danger zone.
“Nag-text po sa atin na nanghihingi ng tulong at saklolo; kinakabahan sila sa paglilipat, at nagtatanong kung may kabuhayan ba silang daratnan. Kinausap po sila ni Jesse. Matapos ang dalawang oras na meeting, ang mga SOS text, naging thank you text na po. Salamat Jesse!” (They texted us asking for help. They were nervous about being relocated and were asking if they will have livelihood. Jesse was talking to them. After two hours of meeting, the SOS text messages became ‘thank you’ text messages. Thank you, Jesse!)
IMPRESSIVE FAMILY. Aquino thanks the Robredo family for their strength and for carrying the nation despite their grief.
Loss like Ninoy
Aquino said he witnessed how devoted Robredo was to his family. In the times he treated his Cabinet to meals, Aquino said Robredo would beg off if the event fell on a weekend.
“Sagrado sa kanya ang oras kasama ang pamilya. Palagi siyang nagmamadaling makauwi sa Naga.” (Family time to him was sacred. He was always rushing to go home to Naga.)
The President also paid tribute to Robredo’s widow, Leni, and daughters Aika, Patricia and Jillian for their strength throughout the ordeal.
“Talagang pinapahanga n’yo kami, dahil kayo pa ang nagbibigay ng lakas sa amin, kayo pa ang nagbibitbit sa amin.” (You really impressed us because you are the ones giving us strength. You are the ones carrying us through.)
Aquino said Robredo’s loss reminded him of the death of his father, the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Yet like the generation of heroes inspired by his father, Aquino said he was certain Robredo’s death would spark the rise of new Filipino heroes.
The President ended his eulogy on a joyful note.
“Kaya’t huwag na po tayong lumuha. Sa halip, magpasalamat tayo. Sa maikling panahong narito siya sa mundo, tayo pa ang nabiyayaan ng pagkakataong makapiling si Jesse Manalastas Robredo.” (So let’s not cry. Instead, let us be grateful. In the short time he was here in this world, we were blessed with the opportunity to be with Jesse Manalastas Robredo.)