Some people say it is only when one is gone that we realize how much he or she meant to us. For the past weeks, I was amazed to see the outpouring of support from every corner of Philippine society towards the death of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, who is a La Sallian that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet, but Go Negosyo had the chance to work with through our Negosyo sa Barangay sessions, which teaches the entrepreneurship basics to barangay officials and Sangguniang Kabataan officers for them to create an entrepreneurial climate that will spur the growth of entrepreneurs. With all the write-ups, print ads of support, and TV coverage, every Filipino was able to get to know him as the crusader for good governance. In fact, I know he was Mar Roxas’ personal choice, and he supported Jesse to take an important role during the early days when PNoy was still choosing his cabinet members. There was a period when Jesse’s name was mentioned as one of the cabinet members that are to be replaced, but through time he must have earned the respect and admiration of PNoy, as I have not seen a President giving so much attention for a man, from the time of the tragedy up to his funeral. He even went as far as honoring him by giving the Philippine Legion of Honor, which is the highest award that a President can bestow without the approval of Congress. Mar’s recommendation of Sec. Jesse as a member of PNoy’s cabinet was a great foresight in setting the platform of PNoy’s reform program for good governance.
Speaking of Mar, I have known him for quite sometime since he was a congressman. I got to know him more when he asked a group of businessmen to help him organize a conference many years ago, bringing in the best in each field, from entertainment, arts and culture and so forth, in Mimosa, Subic. He worked under President Erap, but he moved out of his cabinet when things went the wrong way. He then joined GMA’s cabinet, but he quit when he felt that good governance was being compromised. Mar was trade secretary during both times. As a congressman and senator, Mar is a natural, as he is gifted with the eye to choose the right people to work with him. He has never turned down a request for assistance, provided it is within the rules of good governance. He has attended some of our events in Go Negosyo, especially during the early years as we were still organizing it.
He has gone a long way from a successful investment banker who took the role as the representative of 1st District of Capiz from his brother Dinggoy, who passed away at an early age. Much of his time since then was spent towards working to see a better future for our country. During the last presidential elections, he gave way to PNoy and stepped aside for him to run as president, while he settled for vice president. As the elections kicked off, his margins were so wide that it was a slam dunk for him to win the election, but in the last days, the tables changed and he lost. Anyone, including myself, would find it difficult to face that kind of defeat. He kept away from the public eye for a while and took time off in the States to reflect.
When he came back a couple of months after, I had the chance to have coffee with him, and I noticed he was back to the usual Mar: full of energy, ideas, and dreams. And after the one-year restriction to occupy a government post, he was appointed to head the Department of Transportation and Communication. But we all know that Mar’s influence in helping PNoy set up a good cabinet was there from the very beginning. Greg Domingo for trade; Cesar Purisima, who once mentioned to me that he is supporting Mar because he believes in him; Jesse Robredo; and Mon Jimenez, who handled Mar’s campaign and the creative man who launched our Selecta Ice Cream. In fairness to Mar, who has been receiving criticisms as DOTC secretary, we must consider that aside from the fact that he allows due process to take its course in implementing programs, it takes time to understand and plan the right moves as these are big capital expenditures, and you cannot rush as mistakes would be costly. DOTC’s full page ads for public bidding shows that they are for transparency, and in not one ad do you see his name or photo.
Many knew how close Mar was to Jesse, as he believed that Jesse was the right man for the job. Now, destiny is playing a part by letting him take the role of his friend, and who else can serve and bring the memories of Jesse, and help fulfill that dream of good governance? The role is even much greater than being the head of the Liberal Party; this is a chance for him to change how the local government thinks. During that coffee session, he asked me to join LP to help them bring forward this new politics of change. While I have stayed away from being a politician as my calling has always been an entrepreneur, I saw that his vision for LP was going to help bring about good governance, greater transparency and a real chance to win the fight against corruption.
Destiny is indeed in Mar’s favor for being given that chance to rally men and women in local government to give PNoy’s platform for good governance a chance to succeed. The Philippines will indeed rise from poverty once these happen—men and women in local government using public funds to the best they can for the benefit of the public. Thinking like entrepreneurs, running their locality like their own business. Creating negosyo opportunities, which will create more jobs. Spending on capital expenditures that will improve access to tourism, farm-to-market roads for agrinegosyo. Improving the future of our children by making sure quality classrooms schools are built, and so much more.
Whether Mar becomes the next president or not, he now has a role that may change the landscape of local politics. Yes, he was given a tsinelas that is huge for him, but God blesses us in life with roles and opportunities to help others, and that we will be judged one day in our next life as to how we performed these roles. Let’s all support Mar so that he indeed will succeed the big slippers that he had to fill.
Mar, this is your destiny. God bless.