For the past 2 weeks, Naga City has been adorned left and right with yellow ribbons and countless streamers & banners all in honor of one man – the man who made it possible to live in Naga prosperously, safely and contentedly. Never have businesses willingly spent a portion of their hard earned profit to pay homage to a politician. After all, politicians have the reputation of being shrewd businessmen who are also after profit of their own. Now this is something not all hard-working businessmen appreciates especially when it involves turning some of their revenues into that politician’s gain.
But that is not the case for the Nagueño businessmen and Naga’s Mayor, Jesse Robredo. Mayor Jess respected the businessmen’s plight to earn decent money. He made it possible for businesses to thrive in the city legally and profitably. In return, businessmen respected his wits and principles. They respected his character and his decency that he was not in the position for personal gain but he was there for genuine service. And so he gained their trust.
And when he left, businesses didn’t think twice in paying him tribute the only way they can – by displaying banner after banner, streamer after streamer, thanking him for his selfless dedication and honest work. The guy who shied away from traditional Welcome Home or Happy Fiesta banners that most politicians succumb to was given in his return home countless banners displayed in every corner and establishment. Mayor Jess didn’t want to spend the taxpayer’s money in privileges he can do without. He didn’t like to announce his homecoming, his greetings, his message or whatsoever in banners because he believed that the money to be spent for that can be spent in other more productive ways.
So in his honor, just this one time, businesses gave him what he withdrew from himself. Some hung small banners; some made really huge ones the size of standard billboards. Some dedicated entire parking spaces in his honor.
Others were more creative with their tributes – creating permanent graffiti in their store decors or creating message photowalls for people to leave their messages for him. Whatever medium they used, the practice around Naga City was the same. Businesses – big and small – paid their hero their last respects.
Business establishments were not the only ones who honored him in this way. He also touched many private schools who also accorded him the same honor. Some even made honorary trips to his wake – from elementary students who only know him as their all too famous alumnus to college students who stayed up all night and even made a vigil walk for him.
Jesse Robredo was a well-loved man. It was evident in the city of Naga. He pleased not just private institutions but public agencies as well. He knew how to balance the private and public interests. And he knew how to prioritize the poor without sacrificing the businessman’s private interests. He was one 0f a kind.
During the vigil before he was found, during the wake before his funeral and during his funeral, people from all walks of life were there. Telling personal stories of how Jesse has helped them. Crying their hearts out for the loss they felt. Giving whatever they can give – from free food to free shirt printing for the people who trooped to see him one last time.
He was available to everyone. Everyone could talk to him. Everyone had their own personal moments with him. And so, for them, he was a man gone to soon. He was Naga’s Golden Boy – the bearer of hope, the beacon of light. And his passing will leave a dent in every Nagueños heart.