I call him RSR in the same way that friends in Aksyon Kabataan would call him. Here is my own tribute to the man who continues to inspire young people and give real meaning to what it means to be young.
Although I remained loyal to Akbayan as party member and even served as its youth spokesperson for a while, I considered myself as a closet member of Aksyon Kabataan.
I personally knew RSR during his first attempt at the presidency in 1998. I was an avid supporter and volunteer for the Roco for President Movement. I met him many times during EDSA Dos, and when he was the secretary of Education.
Months before the election, I invited him to be our keynote speaker for the National Congress of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP). I have also met him several times in his office in Strata 2000 while visiting some friends who worked in his campaign. Usually, I was there on Thursdays as my former boss hosted his show at Zoe-TV that houses in the same building.
During those meetings, I have come to the belief that RSR could make a difference if given a chance.
At the height of the recent political crisis, I asked my friends in Aksyon when RSR would stand again to challenge Gloria. They told me that RSR was on a leave from Aksyon because of his bout with prostate cancer, the same reason why he almost quit his candidacy. I felt sad though hopeful that things will be all right. The political circumstances that time was not favoring my fellow Oragon.
Around 10:20 am on August 5, I received a text message from someone close to RSR bearing news that he passed away due to complications brought by the cancer after three weeks of being confined at the St. Luke’s Hospital.
I replied: “Please extend my and my groups sympathies to the family of RSR and let be assure that we will continue to stand for the ideals of RSR…our prayers to him and to his family.”
Surely, RSR will be missed by us, the youth who found hope in him. His idealism taught us that no one could buy our principles.
For some, Roco’s following must look like a personality cult but beyond the fanaticism is a true and exemplary leader who pushed the youth to act and to not let waste. He was the best choice.
Unfortunately, before RSR could contribute to treating the social malaise, he was overwhelmed by his own struggle against prostate cancer.
It leaves us now to accept that RSR has gone to “Maogmang Lugar,” a happy place in Bicolano. However, the agenda of hope will remain. The hope continues. The challenge of pursuing the legacy of RSR is now at the hands of the youth and his believers. As Roco put it, “Tuloy ang laban. Tuloy ang paniniwala. Idol ko ang Pilipino!”
Jose Ma. Montelibano once wrote, “The fate of the nation lies in the hands of the young, whether they are students or young military officers. It is their whole lives, which have yet to be lived out in the next five or six decades whom fate will favor more than those in the pre-departure area. It is the young and their idealism whom destiny awaits.”