Noy Cabinet hails Jesse’s ‘tsinelas leadership’

DON’T CRY FOR JESSE: Maria Leonor Robredo, widow of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, poses with Cabinet members, including Vice President Jejomar Binay, during a memorial service at Malacañang’s Kalayaan Hall Saturday night.
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By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star)
   Updated August 27, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Cabinet spent their last time with the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo at Malacañang the way he would have wanted it – in a casual way with a lot of singing – and by citing his “tsinelas (slippers) leadership” that meant being one with the masses.

On Saturday night during the Cabinet’s necrological service for Robredo, Energy Secretary Rene Almendras said the “Impossible Dream” that they sang was one of the late secretary’s favorite songs.

They also belted out “My Way,” replacing the last line with “Jesse’s Way.”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also led the official family in singing “Betcha By Golly Wow” – the theme song of Robredo and his lawyer-wife, Maria Leonor.

Almendras said behind every great man was an even “greater woman” and that Robredo probably turned out to be the good man that he was because of his wife.

Robredo’s wife and children were seen bursting into laughter while members of the Cabinet sang, sometimes out of tune. They did finish the songs though, while laughing at themselves, too. Those who had solo performances were Almendras, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, and De Lima.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, a potential successor of Robredo, also joined the other Cabinet members in singing the “Impossible Dream” during the memorial service.

It seems that Robredo helped ease political rivalries temporarily as Binay and Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas – his rival during the last vice presidential race – sang in one number.

Binay and Roxas, however, were not beside each other while they were singing Robredo’s favorite song.

Before the number, Binay even joked that the people in the wake might leave once the Cabinet members start belting the Matt Monroe hit.

Almendras then quoted Binay and jokingly ordered the Presidential Security Group to ensure that no one would leave the Kalayaan Hall during their performance.


Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said he admired the “purity” of Robredo’s character, supporting him even in making tough decisions on erring personnel.

Almendras and Roxas, who spoke during the Liberal Party’s memorial service ahead of the Cabinet’s turn, described Robredo as a hands-on leader accessible to everyone.

Almendras said just like slippers that were the common people’s footwear, Robredo showed deep empathy with the people he served.

“’Tsinelas’ leadership is about working on the basics, no frills, no kaartehan, something as uncomplicated and casual as the tsinelas but with a very, very clear vision. That was Secretary Jesse Robredo,”

Almendras said, hoping that this would start a new trend among public servants.

The energy chief said Robredo liked wearing slippers, which he preferred because these were comfortable and the right footwear for flooded areas being light unlike rubber boots.

Almendras said, “When you go to a flooded area you will see the quality of leadership by the situation of the flooded people.”

“We talked and said some leaders are only for picture taking; some leaders are true leaders, willing to serve the people. And you will see them very clearly,”

he said, adding in jest that Robredo actually pronounced it as “sinelas.”

“The real topic I want to share with you tonight is Secretary Jesse’s brand of ‘tsinelas’ leadership. I have come to define

tsinelas leadership as the pragmatic and more demonstrative version of servant leadership that Secretary Jess always talked about,”

Almendras said.

“I will tell you, I will explain to you four features of ‘tsinelas’ leadership, Jesse Robredo version. ‘Tsinelas’ leadership is about the willingness to brave the floods; the willingness to go where you normally do not go; to the most remote areas just to be with the most disadvantaged people. We all know Secretary Jesse rarely said ‘no.’ That’s why he was one of the most well-traveled Cabinet members. He went to many places where some of us could not go to,” Almendras said.

Almendras, Roxas and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the brand of leadership set by Robredo would be a tough act to follow and somehow set the standard for the kind of leaders that the country should have.

“He was so unassuming, so unaffected. He was more concerned with being true to himself. He was the first on the ground to clear the mud after a flood, he was at the forefront when a fire would raze a community. He would demonstrate frugality and proper responsibility in public spending,” Roxas said.

During LP’s tribute to Robredo, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said their assessment of the late secretary was that

“he not only had a terrific vision and drive but also tremendous patience. He will talk to you smiling and that is really one of his great assets,”

Belmonte said. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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