Farewell, Mayor Jesse Robredo

I had a different entry lined up for today, I wish with all my heart that I didn’t have to write about this. But it happened. In light of this tragedy, let’s take a moment to talk about this man. The great mayor of our city, Secretary of Interior and Local Government, father, husband, beacon of hope.
First of all, this sucks. It’s never our place to question God’s intentions, but it’s times like this when we wonder, why? Didn’t someone say good guys finished last?
I don’t know him. I don’t call him Tito; I don’t see him as a father figure. I’m not about to launch into a series of tear-jerking memories or inspiring tales.  I must’ve have met him at least once: either when my dad was still alive or during one of my uncle’s parties, but, I was probably preoccupied with some toy. Like most events in my childhood, my memories of him are secondhand. From my mom, my older cousins, my friends, the media.
He was my parents’ friend. As for me, our connection stretched only as far as the few blocks between my house and the city hall. Jesse Robredo stuck out not only because he was mayor for most of my life (save for the short time he had to take a term break), but also because he had an uncanny resemblance to my father.
Once, and I remember this vividly, I saw a photo of him–a flyer–and confused him for my father. My mom nodded in agreement and said people always said they could pass for brothers. She told me an anecdote that once when Robredo saw my dad, he joked in Bicolano: “People say we look alike, sino sa atin ang nainsulto?”
But as recent events proved, it wasn’t just a physical similarity that bound them together. My dad died almost 19 years ago. He died when a C130 plane crashed, carrying him and a bunch of relief goods. He had a commercial flight booked but opted for the government plane since he deemed it more efficient. It was Christmas and he was in a hurry to get home to his family. He made it a couple of days later, when his body was found.
Last Saturday, I had come home in good spirits when my brother and mom told me that Robredo’s plane crashed at sea. My mouth dropped open and I could only muster a “that’s freaky.” And it is. As news of the accident spread online and in the media, old, musty, hidden memories crept up on my family. Back to that December 15, 1993 night when we heard that my father’s plane collided then exploded in a field.
I cannot enumerate Robredo’s achievements. In fact, enbarrassingly for a Nagueño, I learned about most of them now–through the looped tributes airing on ANC. My impression of this great leader is personal, not political, even if we’ve never really spoken. He was a lot of things to different people, but for me, Mayor Jesse is the guy who led the search and rescue operations for my dad. And just by that,  I didnt have to meet him to know he was a good man.
I wanted to post a photo of my father, but I found it a bit eerie.

4 responses to “Farewell, Mayor Jesse Robredo

  1. sad story 😦

  2. you write so well.
    i don’t personally know Mr. Robredo but from what other people and his colleagues and co-workers say about him, I believe in my heart now that we did lose a good person. May his soul rest in peace; and may the people and family that he left attain peace as well.

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