Jesse’s Way

17 March 2013

  1. Family first. You can never invite him during periodical examinations of his daughter. He is the one who tutors them especially in math. He goes home every day to have lunch with the family
  2. It’s ok not to conform. In a conference in Washington, he was comfortable loafing around the hotel in his Chinese slippers.
  3. Speak your mind out. He did not hesitate to speak his mind out even if his ideas can be unpopular or contradicted “the ideas of his friends.” He did this to me several times. First, when he opposed my endorsement of a program in Bicol saying that the program needs to mature. Second, when he told me that it is about time we establish partnership with central DepED (knowing my aversion to dealing with bureaucrats and political appointees.
  4. No entitlement. “Power does not bestow on you the right to be ahead of others or to demand special services.” He never sat on presidential tables and preferred to mingle with the crowd. At times, he sat on the registration table.
  5. Simple is beautiful. “One can count the number of his checkered shirts.” He made no fuss about food served to him. He ate almost anything.
  6. Be resilient. He slept on the boat from Zamboanga to Siasi, bathe even if the water was dirty, and ate even if there was so spoon or fork. He kept telling me, “Take the time to rest when we are out in the province.” Shake off the work mentality.
  7. Cost-effectivity is the key. He slept in cheap but clean hotels when he was in Manila. Why spend a lot of money when all you need to do it to take a clean shower and dress up? His contribution to a sit-down dinner that Synergeia sponsored was a singing group that sang in beer gardens in Naga. But the “Pork Barrel” was a big hit. He preferred to take the train from the airport in Washington even if he did not know how to get a ticket from the machine or lost his way
  8. Consistently show appreciation and support. He was there all the time, inspiring mayors, barangay captains, sharing his experiences, articulating his insights. His presence was his biggest gift. Simple gifts like coffee mugs, and a bedroom lamp (for me) were the premium. When he joined the Galing Pook for his “Reinventing the School Board program”, he said, “Ma’am para sa iyo ito at sa Synergeia.” (Ma’am this is for you and Synergeia.)
  9. Think deeply. His ideas were a cut above the rest. They were different. He thought that our programs were incomplete unless superintendents are accountable to local governments and their communities. His last words of wisdom is that we will not be remembered by the power and wealth we have held but by the way we related to people.
  10. Be uncomfortable with perks. He was ill at ease with the accolades and his popularity. He was astounded when people wanted to have their photos with him. He did not know how to react. All he can do was to say, “One, two, three,” every time the camera clicked.
  11. He had a great sense of humor. When he was told how special he is to Synergeia because of the huge publication costs for our manifestos of support (we had four), he laughingly said, “Kumita pa ang mga yon” (They even made money out of the venture.)
  12. He had a great sense of humility. After months when I refused to talk to him, he came uninvited to a Synergeia conference and sat at the back. He raised his hand to participate in the open forum. My heart just broke. I publicly announced ,”Mayor, bati na tayo” (Mayor, everything is forgotten)
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