So now Secretary Jesse Robredo is dead. And lo, what do we see around us now but a multitude of armchair eulogies — many of them spread shallow across 140-character snippets of textual diarrhoea — waxing poetic on how good a man he was. That’s all good folks — if it weren’t for the fact that the man is dead. I don’t know what the bigger tragedy is, Robredo’s senseless death, or the even more evidently consistent failure of Filipinos to spot a pea-sized diamond on a pile of turd.
I didn’t really follow Secretary Jesse Robredo’s work. A wild personal guesstimate tells me neither was he a major artifact on any of my colleagues’ watch lists. Search our network of sites for any mentions and you will probably get just a small handful of hits in the search results you get. It means Robredo wasn’t in our radar — which is a good thing. More to the point, I cannot presume to be an expert on who Robredo the man was, what he achieved, or what he didn’t achieve. All immediate knowledge I have, I’ve already compiled in my previous article.
What I now know about Robredo includes anecdotes from a personal friend of mine who was a constituent of his when he was mayor of Naga City, was a contemporary and schoolmate of his wife (albeit a couple of batches lower), and ran around in the same local social circles. Much of what that friend of mine had to say about Robredo was in the context of what she knew about his wife — that they were all simple, decent, and well-liked (but respected) people. She also told me that Robredo spent much of his tour of duty as mayor battling a mob of politicians seeking to undermine his claim to the mayor’s office. Indeed, even then, he was a diamond sitting atop a pile of manure.
Closer to the point I try to make, it is easy to ignore a living quiet achiever. That is because the Philippines is a noisy shallow human cesspool — full of characters in the trade of brokering flawed arguments and irrelevant information. Everything is after-the-fact. Foresight is frowned upon. Achievement is seen as a target to take limp swings at. Granted, hindsight is often hailed as a fountainhead of useless wisdom, it seems the Philippine National “Debate” is skewed further towards the celebration of poignant hindsight than the average human society.
Nowhere else is this laughable Filipino trait evident in the way the Commission on Appointments now scrambles to honour Robredo in death.
“For the hearing of the committee on interior and local government of the Commission on Appointments on Aug. 29, 2012, I will be asking the committee to retain the matter of the late Secretary Robredoâ€™s confirmation on the agenda. I intend to move that the committee unanimously recommend the posthumous confirmation of the late Secretary Robredo,” [Camarines Sur Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte] said.
He said Robredo had been doing a good job as interior and local government secretary and was one of the most hardworking members of President Benigno Aquino’s Cabinet.
“He would have continued to perform well if not for this tragic turn of events,” Villafuerte said.
“We, his province mates in Camarines Sur and his fellow Bicolanos, are very saddened about his death as it is a big loss not only for us but for the whole nation,” Villafuerte said.
Recalling what my friend said about the way Robredo battled trapos throughout his stint as mayor of Naga City, brings a bit more meaning to some little factoids highlighted by that Inquirer report: that Villafuerte is “an uncle of Robredo”, that he had in the past a “falling out” with Robredo, and (get this) had a nephew, a certain Jojo Villafuerte, who was also running for the Naga City mayor seat back in 2007. Fascinating.
A “posthumous” honour for the man, no less. Yeah, those are nice. They give the living — specially those among us who harbour feelings of guilt over being such self-absorbed arses — a much-needed, but irrational sense that we had corrected an absolute failure to honour someone while he or she was alive. But think about the actual lot of good such “awards” do for the dead? His immediate family? Well, yeah.
So, heads up. While everyone blah-blah’s about the dead instead of just quietly burying them, there are things out there that can be payed attention to and addressed — not by prayers, crocodile tears, and quaint eulogies but by world-class modern thinking and action. That is, if Pinoy style politics and traditional ways of thinking do not, yet again, get in the way.
[Original photo courtesy Reuters.]
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