A city with a soul


Privileged Speech delivered by City Councilor Joselito S.A Del Rosario during the 55th Sangguniang Panlungsod Session of the 12th Sangguniang Panlungsod, Naga City, Tuesday, 15 August 2017 IT HAS been five years since we felt a collective shock of the news of the crash of the Piper Seneca, and how our own spirits also seemed to sink with it, down the cold dark waters of the Masbate shore. Since then, thousands of tributes have been offered for our beloved Jesse, and today it seems so trivial for me to pitch in my own homage. But you and I know the greatness of the man, and all what have been said and done will not be enough to bestow the proper honor for his achievements. During these situations, the immediate impulse is to turn on our laptops or smartphones, and google “quotes on greatness.” On second thought, perhaps this focus on greatness has become, ironically – simplistic and common. So instead of surfing the World Wide Web, I turned inward towards myself and tried to think of an alternative, more basic perspective. Something that strikes at the heart of the matter, instead of the vastness and immensity of fame. Then a line by Antoine de Saint-Exupery sprung forth in my mind, verbalized to explain love, beauty, and life, by a wise fox, to a child who sought the meaning of life – the Little Prince. He said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” There is a belief in old cultures that inanimate objects have their own spirits. It is not therefore farfetched, and even logical, to say that a city, made up of the land, its waters, air, human structures, and individual citizens, can have a soul. And what is essential, is within the soul of our beloved City of Naga. I believe that special people like our Jesse can see and communicate with the soul - the spirit of the environment, the community, the society, beyond the individual entities. I believe great men have a different sense, a different way of seeing things, a different mode of comprehension that most of us can only try to achieve. I believe great men can see beyond the physical, beyond the individuals, and see the relationships, the links, the bonds of the essence of life that exist, that most of us can only pretend to understand. How I wish I could see with his eyes. But we can truly try, and attempt to look beyond the superficial, the structures, the hollow words of self-praise and malicious criticism, and the shallow attempts at erecting high pedestals for personal gain. Above and beyond these things, I believe, was the world of our beloved Jesse. It is somewhere between our attempts to understand and survive among the shadows and reflections, the petty world; and the ideal world of perfection, as Plato perceived the world to be. His vision was closer to the ideal than it was to the realities of petty politics. It was his gift. And I am sure that he tried as best as he could to share this special vision with us. Sadly, the journey towards this vision had only begun when the tragedy happened. But if we believe in destiny, we can believe that the events serve as a challenge for us. That we are being tested on whether or not we can pursue what he had started – a new politics that rejected traditionalism and patronage, towards responsible statesmanship and genunie, self-sacrificing service. The manifestations of his vision are all around us to see. The physical structures that are only the façade of the soul of the city. But its foundations – good governance, transparency, accountability, servant leadership, can only be seen by those who truly believe that our city has a soul and spirit. These are what are truly essential. Can we see them? Do we believe in their existence? Are we willing to rise beyond petty politics? For myself, I have faith that the essential foundations for a progressive, safe and secure, and just Naga City are deep and strong. Five years ago, we lost a great man. But our city and nation found its soul. We will not let you down, we will keep the faith, Dios Mabalos, Jesse.