Monday, August 27, 2012

Tsinelas Leadership

By:  Sec. Rene Almendras
Dept. of Energy

(Excerpts from Sec. Almendras eulogy for Sec. Jesse Lobredo)

I have come to define tsinelas leadership as the pragmatic and more demonstrative version of servant leadership that Sec. Jess always talked about. I will tell you, I will explain to you four features of tsinelas leadership, Jesse Robredo version.

Tsinelas leadership is about the willingness na lumusob sa baha; to be willing to go where you normally do not go—to the most remote areas just to be with the most disadvantaged people. We all know Sec. 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. Last night, I stood here for several hours. Ang dami pong taga-Mindanao na pumunta dito to honor Sec. Jesse. Lahat po sila pagdating sa amin, nakatayo kami doon: maraming salamat po. Sir, taga-Mindanao kami; Sir, taga-ano. It was just amazing that he has been to many places in the Philippines just to reach people.

A second characteristic of tsinelas leadership is breaking down the barriers between us and the people we serve. Many years ago, a young architect told me: “I will design it so nicely na mahihiya pumasok ang naka-tsinelas.” Nandito po tayo sa MalacaƱang, nandito po tayo sa Kalayaan Hall. Look around you. This place was not designed for tsinelas. And yet last night, and throughout most of today, how many thousands of slippers came into this room to pay tribute, to pay homage and honor to Sec. Jesse. Naiilang lumapit ang naka-tsinelas sa naka-barong. Leaders must be acceptable, accessible to those they serve. That was Sec. Jesse Robredo.

Third point about tsinelas leadership. Personally po, meron akong relaxation trigger. When I go home, I start relaxing when I take off my shoes and put on my slippers. Marami pong miyembro ng Gabinete ng Pangulong Aquino ang hindi nakakatulog na naka-sapatos. Tuwing bumabiyahe po kami, naghuhubaran po lahat ‘yan ng sapatos sa eroplano. Hindi ko po pinapatamaan si Sec. Cesar Purisima. Pero the minute pong maghubad ng sapatos si Secretary Cesar Purisima sa eroplano, within five minutes tulog na po ‘yan. Alam po ‘yan ng Pangulo kasi ‘yan ang sinasabi ng Pangulong “the concert starts.” But really wearing slippers is the most casual form. Being casual is being warm. Leaders must be casual with the people they serve so that they can listen, hear, and empathize with the people that they serve. That was Secretary Jesse Robredo in his truest form.

Tsinelas leadership is about back to basics—base-level transformation. Sec. Jesse and I share the same problems. He was pushing for good governance in local government. I am still trying to push good governance in electric cooperatives. In the last two weeks of Sec. Jesse’s life, I talked to him or texted with him everyday because of common problems that we shared. He believed and I shared in his belief that good leadership and governance structures in the barangays will naturally result in good leadership and governance structures in the whole republic. It’s about transforming the expectations of people from their leaders so that the next set of leaders will be better than the good ones we now have.

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.

My last conversation with Sec. Jesse was on Friday morning. He called me up at about 8 o’clock in the morning. Sabi niya: Sec. Ren—Rene po ako but tinanggal niya ‘yung “e.” So tawag ko rin sa kanya Sec. Jess. Binawian ko rin po siya e. Sabi niya: “Wala na ba talaga tayong pwedeng gawin tungkol sa baha sa Bulacan?” And the reason for that was Sec. Jess, Sec. Singson and myself at the back of that coaster kept on looking for ways and means to mitigate and bring down the water levels as fast as we can. We talked about Angat Dam, we talked about changing some protocols, and I said: “Sec. Jess, ako na bahala. Tatawagan ko si Sec. Babes mag-uusap kami then we’ll update you”. The very last line that Sec. Jess told me was: “Sige, Pare. Kawawa talaga ang taumbayan.” That is tsinelas leadership—a genuine concern and care for the people that we serve. That is Sec. Jess Robredo in its true context.

These five characteristics and many more is Sec. Jesse Robredo and his legacy to all of us.-

Click READ to see the complete text of the eulogy.

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