By Jam Madrid
NAGA CITY --- Bikers in white shirts with pink sleeves filled the streets early Saturday morning here, Aug. 19, to commemorate the fifth death anniversary of the late Secretary of Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo.
Dubbed as “Freedom Cycle, Pedal Like Jesse,” the event drew an estimated 2,000 bike enthusiasts from as far as Albay and Camarines Norte, and from the different parts of Camarines Sur.
The interactive bike ride event sought to raise awareness on good governance, an initiative that Robredo started.
Robredo’s widow, Vice President Leni Robredo, graced the activity. She was joined in by Mayor John Bongat, Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion, city councilors, and Wolfgang Heinze, the country director of Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Philippines, a major sponsor and organizer of the Freedom Cycle.
“Why Freedom Cycle? We all know here in Naga that biking is always associated with my late husband because this is what he’d been doing in all the years that he was mayor and even when he was already secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government. Most often, he would go around Naga in bicycle. This is one way of commemorating his fifth death anniversary,” the Vice President said.
FNF is a German non-profit organization that promotes good governance, human rights, rule of law, free market and responsible environmental stewardship. It has been working in the Philippines for 30 years now and operates in 60 countries worldwide.
“We’re here in Naga because for many years, we know that Naga has been championing people participation in governance especially during Mayor Jesse’s time. That’s why it’s Pedal Like Jesse because this is the symbolic act Mayor Jesse was doing during his time in Naga,” Pauline Sanchez, FNF coordinator said during the press conference held a day before the event.
Naga Councilor Ray-an Cydrick Rentoy, on the other hand, said they had partnered with FNF as it promotes good governance.
“It is very timely and is appropriate that this will be held in Naga because Naga City is known for good governance which Jesse Robredo started, and we have the bicycle ordinance to promote and raise awareness on biking within the city. The large number of participants is a manifestation that more people are into biking here in Naga,” Rentoy added.
The cycling event covered a 28 kilometer route starting from and ending at the City Hall grounds.
The route started from City Hall, turned left to Magsaysay Avenue, went straight to MT Villanueva Avenue on the way to Queborac, Abella, LCC, Diversion, Tabuco, Triangulo, SM City area, Panganiban, Concepcion Pequena, Del Rosario, Cararayan , Balatas, Eternal Gardens, and back to City Hall.
Before the bikes rolled on the road, Heinze led the releasing of blue and pink balloons by the participants.
“I believe that we’re here because we believe in good governance and in cycling. We’re here to remember the great works of Jesse Robredo, and I would like you to take on to your balloons and I would like you all to send a message to Heaven that we’re all here and that we’re standing up for good governance.”