I thought the day will end ordinarily. It was 6:32PM, August 18, 2012. I was seated along with my friends watching a variety show in our school when I got several text messages that the Piper Senica plane of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo crashed in the waters of Masbate. The news spread out like a fire. I found myself running towards their house in Dayandang, Naga City.
It was a prayerful scene. A lot of friends and supporters waited for the news, for the good news to come. Everyone’s hopeful and still high spirited. I can still remember the statement of one passerby: “Mauli man tulos yan digdi si Mayor” (Mayor will be home soon), she said.
In Masbate, teams of divers from the Coast Guard and the military braved the strong waves and currents to continuously search for the body of the pilots and Sec. Jesse. It was an intense search and rescue operations.
Days have passed; search and rescue operations still ongoing, some Nagueños decided to tie yellow ribbons to welcome our beloved Mayor Jesse back home.
Going back home.
August 21, 2012. The news finally went out. The body of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo has been found, dead. Never in our minds have we thought that those yellow ribbons will also be our welcoming entourage to his body.
In a press briefing, Sec. Mar Roxas said:
"May malungkot tayong balita. At 7:25 this morning, 'yung volunteer divers natin nakita ang fuselage. May mga katawan sa loob pero 'di nila talaga ma-identify. Nu'ng nakalapit sila at about 7:45 am, may mga indications na isa doon sa mga katawan sa loob ng fuselage ay kay Sec Robredo.
The whole city vibe of Naga went down. An Maogmang Lugar ngonian nagmumundo, (The “happy place” now mourns). We waited at Funeraria Imperial. Yes, for quite some time we are still denying the fact that Sec. Jesse is already gone.
We were all confronted by the reality; the body of the late Sec. Robredo is now in a casket embraced by our flag. Tears pour out, and for a moment, I forgot that I’m a regional correspondent of Rappler. I cried as a Nagueno, deeply in pain for the lost of a great father of a humble city.
I’ve never maintained a close relationship with Mayor Jess. We’ve met several times and talked about several advocacies in mind for the youth. I’ve never considered myself as someone who would be remembered by a great man like him. But he is just extraordinary to reply to my text and Facebook messages and call me by my nickname whenever we meet in a number of events. His simple personal birthday greetings are also a bragging moment for all of us. Geee, the Mayor just greeted me on Facebook.
His family’s simple life is truly an inspiration. In a country filled with political controversies, Mayor Jess together with his family braved the odds to go against the status quo. We connect most of our country’s political families with big houses, extravagant lifestyle and controversial assets – Jesse Robredo painted a different picture. His small house in Naga has been open to a lot of people from all walks of life, you would see him around the city walking in plain tee, shorts and slippers, his fatherly love for the constituents especially in times of trial – being the first to arrive in areas or establishments caught up with fire and being the last one to go home after making sure that everyone’s safe for a storm are just but simple testimonies of his extraordinary life.
His tsinelas leadership is a breath of fresh air in both the national and local governments. His people’s participation in governance, urban poor development, and continuous fight for good governance inspired both international and national agencies and organizations to continuously advocate for transparency and accountability.
I really believed that Mayor Jess did his best to pave the way of “Tuwid na Daan”, now, it’s time to continue his legacy. Liliko pa ba o babalik sa dating sistema? Mayor Jess reminded us that we can do something for our country. It need not be as big as being a Mayor. I can still remember him saying: “Basta maging mabuti lang kayong Pilipino”.
In the middle of a lot of heartbreaking controversies faced by the government, let us not forget that there’s a man who wholeheartedly gave his life to set an example of good governance. Let us not waste what he, together with a lot of equally dedicated people in the government, has started.
My life peg is now in heaven. You are truly missed, Mayor Jess. May we live out your legacy well. Dios mabalos!