Memories of Sec. Jesse Robredo from one of his neighbors in Naga City #SalamatJesse

Leonel grew up in Barangay Dayangdang, Naga City, 3 minutes walk from the house of the late DILG Secrertary Robredo. Here is his tribute

I was a little boy living in Zone 5 Barangay Dayangdang, Naga City. I was playing inside our house with my grandfather, suddenly, there was a man with about three to five companions knocking at our door and giving Pancit Canton. It was the time when Jessie Robredo was introducing himself to the public. I remember that Jessie Robredo was an executive employee of BDCA. Governor Luis Villafuerte supported Jessie Robredo in his election way back in 1988 and later on they separated ways. If I’m not mistaken, his rivalry in the Mayoral race was the brother of former Senator Roco. Jessie Robredo was 29 years old during that time, the youngest candidate for Mayor in the history of Naga City. He won the said election as Mayor. From thereon, he never lost in the Mayoral race, the only thing that stopped him from re-election was because of the limitations of the law.

“Father of Nagueno’s”, is how people in Naga treated DILG Secretary Robredo. Naga before was not known and was not a highly urbanized city. Of course it was the typical cuidad such as buildings, supermarket, Plaza and even the infrastructure like gravel roads. But your Barangay is lucky enough if you see the cemented road. One is often afraid to come home late because of the dark streets and afraid to leave home overnight because of the Akyat Bahay gang. That was what Naga City looked like before Mayor Jessie Robredo came in.

Mayor Jessie Robredo changed the image of Naga and is now known, “An Maogmang Lugar” a Bicol dialect which means in English, “A Happy Place”. He started infrastructure projects, inside and even the outskirts of Naga. To mention a few, he rehabilitated Naga City Supermarket, street lights, drainage system and many more. From there on, Naga gradually changed towards development. He welcomed investors and made it an an easy system of putting up business inside the city.

He also made the image of “Ubos kung Ubos, Gabos kung Gabos” during local elections. He always brought this quotation every election which means “All or Nothing”. It’s a political legend. Once you joined the party of DILG Secretary Robredo even though you are not popular, you will win in the election race. This is the magic of DILG Secretary Robredo. Whoever he endorsed, it is pretty sure that they will win in the election race. Like in the case of Cho Roco, he was not that popular in Naga City. He is the brother of the late Senator Raul Roco. Cho Roco won the Mayoral race because he was endorsed by DILG Secretary Robredo during his last term as Mayor. Also, before he was appointed as DILG Secretary, he endorsed Atty. Bongat as the next Mayor and the magic is still there. Atty. Bongat is the current Mayor of Naga.

Nagueno’s loves DILG Secretary Robredo. Many personal traits that DILG Sec. Robredo are unique. Naga City experienced many calamities. December 5, 1992, Naga City was flooded, it was like Ondoy and Habagat. Naga City was full of total darkness due to absence of power supply from CASURECO II. Large trees blocked the road and contaminated drinking water. Guess what, it was cleaned up in less than a week. The power supply was restored in two days time. Trees blocking the road were cut immediately and you can see the road free from mad. How did DILG Secretary do this? He mobilized all the contractors of Naga City, he used the trucks and heavy equipment in clearing the city free of charge. And, he personally led the clearing operations. Imagine that early morning of December 6, 1992, DILG Secretary Robredo is shoveling the mud in the streets and his city hall employees were helping. Every single resident of Naga City were inspired with the action taken by DILG Secretary Robredo. Families were divided into two groups, the first group were cleaning the house while the other group was cleaning the roads. He also talked personally to CASURECO II to restore the power supply the soonest time possible without compromising the safety of each family. I can say that DILG Secretary has the Leadership by example.

DILG Secretary Robredo is a religious person . He is a devotee of INA, Our Lady of Penafrancia. He also joined the Traslacion and Fluvial procession every September. Even if he was a Mayor, he joined the crowd of the said festivities without any distinction as Mayor of Naga City. He usually attends mass in Basilica Church with his family wearing Polo shirt and seating in front without any private nor government body guard. Sometimes he attended anticipated mass in the chapel of Barangay Dayangdang wearing simple T – shirt. Sometimes, when the seats were occupied, he stood outside the chapel with his family.

His home is about Five (5) minutes ride away from his office in Magsaysay Avenue. I remembered that his car is mid 90’s CRV Honda where he is seated in front beside his driver. He only wears polo shirt or polo in his office. He was approachable, he talks to anyone even a stranger. His driver dropped him off the side door of the City Hall then he will walk by his own going to his office in the Second Floor. You can even talk to him in his office without prior appointment with him. After office, sometimes he will be dropped off by his driver in down town particularly infront of Robertson Department store where he joined his wife doing the grocery.

He also conducts a regular visit to Barangay gatherings. The Barangay Chairman scheduled a Barangay meeting in Barangay Hall and all residents were invited to come and to raise issues that are concerning the Barangay and even the City. DILG Secretary Robredo was personally attending and answering questions of the residents of the Barangay. And, in every answer DILG Secretary Robredo gave, he tried to satisfied the questions.

During weekend, you can see DILG Secretary Robredo walking alone in downtown wearing short, tsinelas “Spartan” and seeing his sponsored old t-shirt by hardwares or pharmacies. If you are not a Nagueno’s, you cannot even recognize that you are siting or walking beside the Mayor of Naga. One time there was a basketball league participated by different cities of Bicol and DILG Secretary Robredo was a player of Naga Team. During the game, there was an incident wherein his opponent was trying to argue with DILG Secretary Robredo and even the player wants to fight the Mayor. The referee was trying to stop the guy and said, “Mayor ng Naga Yan” – he is the Mayor of Naga. But, DILG Secretary Robredo remained calm and hearing the side of the opponent player without introducing himself as Mayor of Naga. Another thing, in his house in Barangay Dayangdang, there was a basketball court at the corner of the road outside of his house that is Del Pilar Street. Usually, Saturday afternoon, he played basketball with the bystanders having a “pustahan” of 1.5 liter coke. They played for about 3 players in a team. The bystanders were used to play with DILG Secretary Robredo as ordinary resident of the barangay. Whether DILG Secretary won the game or not, he bought 1.5 liter coke and he drinks it with the other playmate along the road. During my college, I was preparing my research paper regarding Naga City. I walked in to the house of DILG Secretary, without any appointment, to interview him regarding Naga. And, I was accommodated in his simple house .

When I went home to Naga City this year, I saw his wife doing grocery by herself in LCC along Magsaysay Avenue. His wife was carrying her paper bag grocery from the said LCC going back to her car and she drove her car by herself going home. I also passed by to his house and still the same.

I was monitoring the news about the progress of the search and rescue operations in Masbate. I was praying that there was a miracle happened which DILG Secretary was able to go out in the plane.

I grew up in Barangay Dayangdang, 3 minutes walk from the house of the late DILG Secrertary Robredo. As a constituent of Naga City, may this simple blog serve as my tribute to DILG Secretary Robredo and may this blog inspire Naga City and the Philippines of the good deeds of DILG Secretary Robredo.