In the Philippines, and in most countries, people who have triggered revolution against an oppressive government, resisted colonization and willingly sacrificed their lives for the democracy and independence of their country are considered heroes. But do we need to wait for another revolution, another war, or another colonizer to learn who these heroes in our society are? Or is there still a modern-day hero?
Admit it; we have negative notions towards politicians: corrupt, irresponsible, snob. These are considered contagious diseases among them. But spare this man, the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo. I do not know anything about him before his tragic death. As the television is bombarded about the tragedy, news features about his leadership and legacy were shown as well. Then I realize how great he is, a modern hero indeed.
Jesse is not your ordinary politician. He forwarded accountability during his term as mayor of Naga City even until he assumed the position as DILG secretary. He deliberately rallied clean public service even if many other politicians preferred to abuse their power instead. He also empowers his constituents by allowing them to participate in policy making and let them realize that citizen’s role does not end after electing an official.
His “tsinelas leadership” shows his humility and dedication in his service, being willing to immerse with the most disadvantaged people during disaster and even in ordinary days. He makes his public office accessible to people.
Jesse shows that a revolution for a principle you fight for should start with yourself. That one is powerful enough to change the “traditional” things that are wrong in our society. Jesse did not wait for the system to change, he changed the system he operates with to meet the ideals he upholds.
By doing beyond the position assigned to him, by delivering to the people what they really deserve, and by bringing hope to many Filipino that good governance and ethical leadership can still exists, he is truly a selfless leader, a genuine public servant and a worthy modern day hero.
More than defining what makes one a hero, our society, especially to this day, needs someone who really imbues the traits of a hero. We need somebody to inspire us that change is possible, even in our personal initiatives. We need role models. I think there are more people like Jesse Robredo who privately perform their duties for the people. Whether in public office, business or in our ordinary lives, there are many untold stories of greatness and heroism.
A hero is a leader. And as he leads people, he slowly influence them to be leaders themselves, and to be another modern day hero for everyone. We do not need another war or another colonizer to realize that there are still heroes around us and even within each of us.
A hero should not only be remembered but his legacy should be relived. May Jesse Robredo’s legacy lives on. (Justin C. Pagaduan)