Feature Article\

An Epitome of a Life Lived in its Fullest

Few years had passed since I wrote an article of the same topic, with the same title.

“The most important ingredient of leadership is character. Most of the proficiencies can be learned, but what’s inside you is something that’s difficult to change,” says a man who had stirred up a comparable aspect of a former Philippine president – now a modern-day Ramon Magsaysay. Such passion to serve the people and willpower to do good have fueled Jesse M. Robredo to spend a life he had and eventually fulfilled a realization that it had been something that is, until this day, worth dying for.

On the 18th day of August year 2012, the world was shook with the news report delivering that a twin-engine, four-seater Piper Seneca light aircraft, directed to Naga from Cebu, crashed off the sea in Masbate island province. Only the police aide had survived the so-called accident. Captain Jessup Bahinting, Nepalese pilot trainee Kshitiz Chand, and (at that time DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo did not able to make it. This untimely death of the secretary created a huge impact in the lives of many people, which has still been commemorated through a fluvial parade and has been announced that August would be Jesse Robredo month. Consequently, this national tragedy has evoked the memories of Ramon Magsaysay who also died in a plane crash. This tends to relate an image of exceptional leadership skills, good governance tactics, concern for the welfare of the people, and a well-lived life – which both of the aforementioned leaders acquire. Despite the personal setbacks, Robredo remained steadfast in his vision for the DILG and the country (Chiu and Tan, GMA News 2012).

Now, what kind of person had he become to be able to exhibit such a charismatic appeal to people? Why did his death immensely affect the Filipinos? How significant are his contributions to our nation that his name had been able to be the top headlines of the news for a couple of weeks or months after the incident? How was he able to connect with his countrymen while he was still alive and breathing? Does it make any sense in putting the focus of the lens to his character and way of living? Here lies the basic truth behind this man that had considerably died with honor that will forever stay in our homeland.

Jesse Manalastas Robredo, born on May 27, 1958 in Naga City, was raised by Jose Chan Robredo Sr. and Marcelina Manalastas. He’s a second-generation Chinese Filipino who’s the third child among the brood of five. During the 1970s, he attended Ateneo de Naga when he was in high school. Instead of pursuing his studies in University of the Philippines Los Baños where he also passed an admission test, he finished undergraduate degrees in Industrial Management Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at the De La Salle University. During the 1980s, he worked at San Miguel Corporation in the Physical Distribution Technical Services then later functioned as the Magnolia Ice Cream director’s assistant staff and was also assigned to logistics planning. In 1985, he had been a scholar at the University of the Philippines Diliman and finished his Masters in Business Administration. Due to his scholarly excellence, he was named the Graduate School and Faculty Organization awardee.

Raised by a highly-competitive father, he learned to be a responsible and mature individual in his earlier years. He broke records in schooling, notching degrees, accomplishments, political integrity, and passion for reform. His academic performance was excellent. He was disciplined as a child and would, thus, do the same to his children. He neither tried to smoke nor to drink. He valued virtues of being concerned to other people and living in a modest lifestyle. He was a streetwise as he witnessed conditions between well-to-do and poor families. Perhaps relatively comfortable with regards to the basic need of the family, he had been exposed in the realities of the world which molded him into a well-made man. Protecting the integrity and honor of one’s family is of highest importance to him. Children should be able to contribute their share in order to attain this goal. “If our children cannot inherit anything material, at least they will inherit a good name,” says his supportive wife, Atty. Maria Leonora “Leni” Gerona – whom he had met during a job interview in Bicol – and they had three daughters throughout the years of harmonious marriage. He was a multi-awarded local executive before leaving his corporate life for public service. In spite of the demands of his jobs, he stayed plain. He had moved around freely without any bodyguard beside him. He knew that even the simplest acts do matter that he would be seen sweeping the streets by himself. He’s definitely ‘one of the most prominent figures among a rising generation of local officials becoming known on the national stage’. On the other hand, he would hurry to his family on weekends. “In the end, this habit of hurrying cost him his life- and the nation, one of its best sons,” as deeply described in an article published by InterAksyon in 2012.

Robredo returned to Naga City the following year to become the Program Director of the Bicol River Basin Development Program. At age 29, he was declared the youngest mayor in the country during 1988 in Naga City. In 1995, he was elected as President of the League of Cities of the Philippines, Chairman of the Metro Naga Development Council (1992-1998), and Chairman of the Regional Development Council. Four years later, while he is a Mayor of Naga City (for 19 years), he earned his masteral degree in Public Administration at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Meanwhile, Naga City was named one of the “Most Improved Cities in Asia” by Asiaweek Magazine. When he was reelected in 1995, he enacted a unique Empowerment Ordinance creating a People’s Council that should institutionalize NGOs and people’s organizations participation for the upcoming municipal deliberations. He responded to an appointment set by Cory Aquino during the People Power Revolution 1986 when he won by slim margin at a very young age. The “Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007” gave voice to the citizens in demanding efficient service according to the charter written in a table in every office. In relation to his incomparable call for empowerment, he also instituted “Seal of Good Housekeeping” program in 2010 that should motivate LGUs and inspire local chief executives.

He won the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service for his exemplary skills in governing. The board of trustees recognized his ability to provide the acceptance to a promising demonstration of democracy and that signified the compatibility of effective city management with regards to the yielding of the power to the people. He received 13 other major awards such as the 1998 Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines, 1994 Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World Honoree, 1990 Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines, and the very first “Dangal ng Bayan” Award of the Civil Service Commission. President Benigno Aquino III named him as the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government in 2010.

Inherently, all of the achievements of this man cannot fit a one-paragraph enumeration. This shows how active he had been participating in the clash of life. Other than these awards, he had also been a victor of well-established projects, programs, advocacies, and a lot more activities that suit the principles and standards which are truly worth the fight.

‘A center of excellence in implementing government research’, Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance, is one of the examples that operate until this day. Former Governor and Representative of Camarines Sur, Luis Villafuerte, owned a network called Bicol Boradcasting System where Robredo had worked as President and Station Manager. Furthermore, the city government had a program Kaantabay sa Kauswagan which expropriated lands for relocation and housing of urban poor settlers. The “Tsinelas Leadership” may also represent the simplicity and being down-to-earth of the people’s servant. He’s, indeed, raising the issue of championing the marginalized sectors. Together with former Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio and Isabela Governor Grace Padace, promoted Kaya Natin! Movement. One of those who testify this influential drive is the Mayor of Daet town, Tito Sarion. A “force for positive change” has strategic ways that can be regarded as highlights of merit in fulfilling the plans and actions that should have been undertaken. He made his staffs play SimCity. Cities are a system. Small changes can lead to big results, both negative and positive. He believed that it’s an essential aspect, of building one’s character in pursuing his aims, to look at people and treat them equally without the bias of their social status. No matter how big or small a thing is, it matters and always will. He maintained dynamism in his ruling as he’s faithful to pro-people ideology. Performance, productivity, and morale among city employees were therefore raised – as “a culture of excellence overtook the culture of mediocrity, businesses doubled, and local revenues rose by 573 percent”.

Yapak Natin: Tsinelas Walk for Jesse Robredo had been participated by thousands of participants a year after his mournful death. Youth leadership seminars such as “Lead Like Jesse” and “Mobility Mission” were held to campaign and motivate the young generation to take a path that can lead our nation to a better state. It is not enough for a leader to be good; more importantly, it is the people and the system that must force the leader to be good – words by Robredo. Additionally, he said Kahit hindi mo gusto yung ginagawa mo, you are still expected to work hard and excel. His advice to would-be leaders was that ‘You have to have credibility’. He emphasized that a leader must not only be good but also competent; which is noticeable among his speeches with the matino at mahusay slogan. He’s an idealist in a sense  that he aspired to make Naga City a happy place where it would get rid of illegal gambling and inefficient bureaucracy. A once disarrayed locality had been turned into one of the most competitive, most business friendly, most cost-effective, most women and children friendly, most outstanding in excellence, innovation, and governance – that’s Naga City handled by Robredo in service. Public works had been an essential task to accomplish during his term which, in turn, made such a place to be one of the most livable cities in the country. Operations were professionalized. Participation was encouraged. Frugality and disdain for cosmetic projects were endorsed. As termed, the leader and his people residing in the city had been “tirelessly improving”. Naga had been revived through strengthened performance, transparency, and accountability in the systems of governance across the public-private divide. Focus was on the capacity to build and improve development outcomes such as decentralization, budget monitoring, environmental governance and sustainability, integrity systems, e-governance (an application of information communication technology), and awareness (consensus support and solutions to problems). He quoted, “good government cannot be achieved without people empowerment”. Mass and elite are believed to have been entitled with the same kind of service.

Our political history has shown that we have put the burden of running this country to our ‘best’ people for too long. And yet the gap between the rich and the poor has grown wider. For this country to succeed, we need to make heroes of ordinary people. We need to make heroes of ourselves (Robredo, 2005).

This biography of a man like Jesse Robredo may seem to have said too much for a paper; but its length is still too short analogous to the breadth of life the man had lived. Words cannot entirely narrate the episodes of his heroism, or even failures. In a way, it still does play a vital role in signifying an endeavor that is exemplary and is worth reminiscing by us, especially the Filipino people. Many would have been asking: “Would these pieces of information be published if not because of his ill-timed death?” Well, what really pushed through these details that make us appreciate the deeds further when he’d been gone? Is it politics? Power relations? Publicity? Personal intentions? Promotion? – The bottomline is nobody can ever really judge without a hint of dogmatism from his/her own perspective. What matters is that we got something from this story – the existence of prevalent possibilities that we could actually continue the struggle of pulling this country to the top of what we thought is an impossible altitude to be reached by anyone… where plane crash cannot subside.

Jesse Robredo had lived a life, may be in a short period of time as how others see it, but the battle has just begun. Skirmish. Integrity and dignity, honor and excellence – they don’t die and never will if we relive the fire and stand up again midst adversities. We got a lifetime to do it. Sincerity does count.

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The Metamorphosis of Love


Life is not a series of chances but a series of choices.

A heart usually portrays the essence of love, of Romanticism, of people’s involvement in a relationship that demands commitment, trust, and loyalty; but a heart might mean a different thing that tries to incorporate a wider and deeper understanding of how love actually exists in a person’s life- where happiness stays and grows from within. However, the butterflies signify metamorphosis- an agent of change that persists to survive in this world.

Just because you want it, doesn’t mean you can get it. Destiny is not carved in stone because it is something you have to create on your own. Beyond the freedom set upon the spark of divinity that’s given from the very start, you get a life… full of uncertainties, doubts, and risks. You endure a battle and insist to win for you think of the importance of the things you love is what truly matters. But, is it really worth the fight? Do you deserve to fall in love that depends from the intensity of the presence of others? Does reality have to seem so vague that you associate real joy from the attachment you get used to? Is it then fair to blame circumstances when you lose yourself while finding the significance outside of it?

Perfection is imaginable yet it is not possible. It cannot be achieved. It is so unfair to expect something that goes too high enough to disrupt your view of reality. You accept the love you think you deserve that you eventually fail to realize that what you’ve been seeking for the whole time is already in front of you waiting to be held on for so long. You miss the chances that are reserved for you while chasing for the ones you desperately hope for. You end up undecided, left out unfulfilled. Is that what is considered as happiness? Of course not. You commit mistakes just like anyone else. The bottom line is, it might be too late to catch up with failures. You learn to let go.

What you believe keeps you going, isn’t it? What you believe is what triggers you to remain intact with your goals in life. You often accompany it with the thought of being extremely in love with something else. So when it is gone, the happiness fades away. That is what happens in a heart that is filled with butterflies. There are things, there are people… that will come and leave. Some will stay and others are meant to go away. Permanence is rare. Definitely, there are things that are bound to visit you temporarily. There will be a moment in your life when your actions are transformed into regrets. It makes you unsatisfied. Will things ever be put in their proper places? Yes. You just have to explore a great sense of being alive and discover that happiness is not all about romantic love, or gifts, or committing to someone, or keeping a promise- but about the innovation and development you attain while enduring the pain you receive and being passionate about your principles no matter what, each day.

Happiness is a choice yet so difficult to stand by it. Love freely. Who cares to give it back?

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What’s Good About Losing

A chilly evening, guys! This time I’m going to share to you an article I wrote back when I was in high school. It’s just an ordinary piece of literary that was once published by maBCAS. It’s not the kind of work that goes too deep but something that comes from the heart… because I, too, had experienced failing. Through this, I’ve found a way to actually motivate myself and other people to never give up. We all pass through thick and thin moments. We’re being challenged- and sometimes it’s not actually the destination that really matters. It is about the journey and how we traveled it.

Always winning can be boring. Let us try the different spices all over. Cheer up, man! 

What’s Good About Losing

“Congratulations!”- Who wouldn’t like to be acknowledged for a job well done? A loser might have wished to hear this, too.

Everytime a sun sets off is a sign of another day coming towards us. People would always have to prove something. Bring up the best. Get the tasks accomplished. Stand out among the crowd. That’s us. We believe that we deserve to be accredited. No more. No less. But what we wanted cannot always happen. ‘Expect the unexpected’, they usually say. Expectations and disappointments may come out together. It is not always a wonderful surprise or a planned activity that is to be followed. We just have to deal with the stresses of life… and a follow-up question “How could I even…?”

Accept the fact that we all have a turn to lose! Life is hard and unruly. We are all warriors by chance with our lives as swords and this world as the battleground. We cannot please everyone just by being ‘an ordinary man with his typical exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide processed in an entire life’. A fight is what it takes to win and therefore be hailed as a victor. From simply winning a writing contest or a marathon, into winning a deal from foreign investors or be recognized in a business forum, even until winning the nation’s Presidence candidacy or one’s self being featured in the coverpage of Forbes magazine- can be regarded as an adventure, a voyage sailed by a battleship. Two chances at stake, and those are: whether to make it or not.

Winning set aside, there’s something to look forward into. An essence of what is really worth fighting for would make us realize how our struggles could make our hopes and dreams come true, without a fear of losing. Some people might still had a doubt and others might say “I think I was born to be a loser just how it sucks to be me”. But does that person really know the purpose of his existence? Will God ever create man to lose everything under the sun? Definitely, the answer is NO. We are all reared in purpose, not ever the same but has something to contribute to the planet Earth.

Can you imagine yourself living in a perfect world? No worries and no mistake. The thrill is nowhere to be found. No more learnings, not even surprises to burst us the excitement. A boring vicinity surrounds the atmosphere. Just like how it may actually look like in a battle without a winner and a loser. A winner could have had it all yet a loser could have had more than that. That’s what is great about losing. The real wisdom of why losers are considered worth existing. Without them, a low-lying spirit could have just been contented with a passion itself. There’s a significance why there exists a loser in every battle for a tough man will consider ‘losing’ as part of his way to success and that determination and dedication are always at risk as wealthy foundation of becoming an even greater individual.

No matter what happens, there’s a fight to continue and its principles to pursue. Win or lose, a noble heart can resist whatever the result may be. There’s always a better day that lies ahead and much more reasons to prove one’s self as a wonderful creation of God. And that what makes everyone a champion. So now, do you think simply being ‘you’ is the good thing about losing?

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Men in Bulletproof


“It’s hard to wait around for something you know might never happen; but it’s harder to give up when you know it’s everything you want.” –Anonymous

I honestly messed up a little today that it is difficult for me to enumerate all the things that I had trouble with. ‘Lessons learned’, as usual. These circumstances weren’t totally destructive to a person’s life. Definitely I complain and rant less as time passes by not just because people around me were too busy to listen, but because I do not find the use of these unessential things in my daily living. Nowadays, I’m trying to focus on what else I can do rather than regret what I could have done in the past- this is it for this day!

The photo is a depiction of my future self; although I considered that ‘that dream of mine’ is already being lived, I am still looking forward that I’m going to make it happen for real (as a professional) when time comes, with God’s grace. This article that I post today is actually about “Campus Journalism: Championing Ethics in Social Media” that I wrote back when I was in high school (Although there were lots of errors and ambiguities that can be found if I actually proofread this from a collegiate viewpoint, I still chose to preserve the way I’ve written it when I was younger). For me, it’s worth sharing because I believe that this is a tiny but sweet appreciation to our passionate young journalists- which can also apply to the role of adults whose expertise is Journalism.

Men in Bulletproof

“… As in war, it is easy to be a sniper and kill somebody from a long distance since the target is not aware of the sniper’s presence until the last minute…”

[quoted from: Responsibility of social media UGNAYAN By Manny L. Garcia (The Philippine Star) | October 28, 2012]

Freedom is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege we were all given access to. As a Filipino under the rule of a democratic country, I inhabit so many chances of expressing myself. Speech communication, public speaking, broadcasting, recitals, and much more. With these actions being disseminated through the public, I should be held responsible enough to face the consequences that lie ahead. Some skills I could have acquired might be listening to sounds few could only hear and viewing such scenes nobody else sees. This is something special because I am a campus journalist.

Internet. Television. Radio. Mobile phones. Four resources out of a myriad count of devices from which updates and information were being looked at. For positive instances, it could either be the root of knowledge, source of inspiration, or means of entertainment to most of the people- but everything has been set with limits. Reflecting on how I perceive a dimension of what is being viewed by the public was just the half of the actual situation. Reminiscent of the ‘Amalayer’ girl’s viral video wherein it garnered higher views on Youtube than the posted videos of their interview on what has really happened. Mon Tulfo’s encounter with Raymart Santiago with his wife Claudine Barretto in an airport wherein the riot between the opposing camps was being recorded yet it is not everyone who knows what happened before the altercation. Posted videos of a traffic enforcer berated by a motorist, and a restaurant cashier being assaulted by a man because of a mistake in asking him his food bill.

Our society has its values slowly depleting. It is a fast-paced world where judgments come hitting from those who are one-sided, living just the half of the truth. Social networking can bring harm, too. While the issue has been depicted, jury is then dictated. Like shots of firearms on its speed unto an inquiry of thrown misconducts against victims of injustice.

As a Campus Journalist, I know what lies ahead. If others cannot be responsible by themselves, I am well-informed that I am skilled to take a lead in conducting them the guidance they need. Lines of defense are just there in case of morality degradation. It is the role of Campus Journalism to remain track in protecting the rights of our fellowmen and providing safety from threatened reputations. We are practiced as responsible citizens, who no matter what and no matter when could risk ourselves and spend our life in service of others. Stakes are risen and we must acknowledge the value in preserving the Human Rights.

Bullets may be fired but the endurance of pain is the strength that we gather from our fellowmen. Social media is a provider of hope and not of despair. Campus journalists boost morality and make them realize what defines dignity. We are the Men in Bulletproof.

Dare to call us in case of emergency.

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