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Jesse Robredo

Robredo extolled for 'tsinelas leadership'

August 26, 2012 5:30am

During the deep and widespread flooding that plagued much of Luzon this month, Jesse Robredo would often show up for work wearing tsinelas, always ready to get his feet wet.

Call it "tsinelas leadership."

In an often lighthearted sendoff for Robredo from his Cabinet colleagues Saturday night, Energy Secretary Rene Almendras made "tsinelas leadership" the theme of his eulogy to the late Interior Secretary, who died in a plane crash last August 18. Many retweeted excerpts from the speech that discussed lessons in leadership as among Robredo's legacies.

"Nahihiyang lumapit ang naka tsinelas sa nakabarong. Leaders must be accessible to those they serve," said Almendras, who has said he and Robredo often confided in each other about the challenges of their jobs. "No job is too small to be taken up by a leader."

"Tsinelas leadership is about no frills, no kaartehan but with a clear vision," Almendras explained as his takeaway from his experience of working with Robredo.

On the last night of Robredo's wake in Malacañang, the Cabinet was the last group to hold a memorial service for the beloved former mayor of Naga, who attained national prominence in 2000 as the first Filipino local official to receive the prestigious Magsaysay Award.

Ending on a happy note

In addition to eulogies, Robredo's colleagues sang songs to him and his wife Leni, who was in the audience. She will accompany her husband's body back to Naga on Sunday morning.

His colleagues said they tried to end the memorial services on a happy note because that would have been the way Robredo wanted it, even if it meant syrupy love songs sung out of tune, as many watching the event's livestream noted.

Crowding the area around Robredo's closed casket, current and former Cabinet colleagues sang Jesse and Leni's "theme song," "Betcha by Golly Wow" by the Stylistics, featuring a spirited solo by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

They also sang "The Impossible Dream" and "My Way," but tweaked the last line to make it "Yes, it was Jesse's way."
On Sunday morning, a Mass is scheduled at 5:30 a.m., to be presided by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, before departure ceremonies at Malacañang.

Servant leader in slippers
During his talk, Almendras recalled Robredo showing up at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council during the habagat floods in August wearing slippers, an act that was at the core of Robredo's philosiophy.
"I have come to define Tsinelas Leadership as the pragmatic and more demonstrative version of servant leadership," Almendras said.
Almedras added that Robredo had always said leaders "need to make sure that the ordinary person is acknowledged."
Election fashion?
As Robredo attains iconic status, Almendras said some politicians may try to win votes by wearing slippers during their campaign in the 2013 elections.
"Malamang next year may mga mangangampanya na nakatsinelas. Sana hindi lang pang-picture taking ang tsinelas nilang suot," he said.
Instead, he hopes the slippers fashion statement is a promise by leaders to live up to Robredo's ideals.
"Sana they will step up to the standards that have been set by SecJess and sana they will be worthy to wear the tsinelas," he added. — ELR/HS, GMA News
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