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    As father and daughter, Jesse and Aika Robredo share many things in common:  their love for their home city of Naga and the Naguenos, their close family ties, and their affiliation with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

    Jesse received the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, which recognized “his giving credence to the promise of democracy by demonstrating that effective city management is compatible with yielding power to the people.” Aika, on the other hand, was in Third Year High School in 1993 when she won the Grand Prize in the High School Category of the Ramon Magsaysay Student Essay Competition, which was organized to provide the youth with a connection to the remarkable lives and work of the Magsaysay awardees.  They were asked to write an essay about which RM Awardee inspired them most, and Aika’s winning entry, Inspiring Me to Make a Difference: Personal Lessons from a Magsaysay Awardee was about her father.

    Individually, father and daughter have their own remarkable achievements.  Jesse, who was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons in the World in 1996, had a brief stint in the corporate world, has been active in government service as Mayor of Naga City for many years, transforming the city for being un-performing to one of the “Most Improved Cities in Asia”, as chosen by Asiaweek Magazine in 1999.  His efforts to make Naga “a first class city with a local government driven by a culture of excellence, and a citizenry with the will and capability to help themselves” have brought his home city many citations as Most Cost Effective City in Asia by the UK’s Foreign Direct Investment Magazine in 2005; Model City for Government Procurement for the World Bank and Procurement Watch in 2003; and the Dubai International Award for Improving the Living Environment from UN Habitat in 1998. Today,  he continues to serve the government as Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

    Aika, who graduated with a BS Management Engineering degree at the Ateneo de Manila University, is now a Management Trainee at Chevron Philippines. As we celebrate the Tercentenary of Our Lady of Penafrancia, father and daughter take us around their beloved Naga and their SM.

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    DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and daughter Aika at the My City My SM launch in Naga with (from left) SM’s Millie Dizon, DOT Regional Director Nini Ravenilla and Naga City Mayor Atty. John Bonggat.

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    “Naga is rich in culture and history.  It is one of the first Spanish settlements in the 15th century. The city is host to the only regional fiesta in the Philippines – the feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia, which is celebrated on the Third Saturday of September, not only in the Philippines but also all over the world.  The devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia symbolizes the religiosity and faith of the Naguenos.”

    Jesse and Aika Robredo in front of the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Penafrancia, which was built in 1985 as the new home of the Patroness of Bicol.  The Basilica, which has a stained glass circular ceiling by Pancho Piano depicting the history of the devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia, is where the Translacion begins when the image is led into procession and brought to the Naga Cathedral.  The image of Ina is then brought back here after the fluvial parade along the Naga River.

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    “The Naga Metropolitan Cathedral and the Penafrancia Shrine, along with the Basilica Minore, form part of the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia, where hundreds of thousands of devotees to an annual pilgrimage to fulfill a panata.

    The Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, which was built in 1825, is among the biggest churches in the region.  During the Penafrancia Fiesta, the image of Our Lady is placed here for nine days where the novena is held in her honor.  The Penafrancia Shrine, on the other hand, was the original home of the Patroness of Bicol. Built in 1750, this is where the Translacion used to begin before the construction of the Basilica Minore.

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    “Naga was one of the first Spanish settlements in the Philippines, and was the site of the first normal school for women in the Philippines, the Universidad de Sta. Isabel.”

    What was originally called the Colegio de Sta. Isabel was founded in 1867 and reached university status in 2002 as the Universidad of Sta. Isabel.  Rt. Rev. Francisco C. Gainza OP, Bishop of Nueva Careces (1862-1879) was the promoter and founder of this college named in honor of Saint Isabel, Queen of Hungary.  It became the first Normal school for girls in the Philippines by a Royal Decree of January 11, 1872.

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    “ Naga is not a place.  Naga is about the Nagueno who has evolved over the years influenced by its history, culture, and religiosity.  The Nagueno demonstrates the hospitality of the typical, old- fashioned Bicolano:  malambing, mabait, maunawain, at matulungin.  At the same time, because of the significant level of urbanization, he also possesses the modernity and sophistication of urban residents.”

    The Robredos with the people of Naga, whom they describe as ‘very enterprising, very resilient, and are willing to make sacrifices for the good of the city. “  As such, they have become “an inspiration, the motivation and reason for bringing the city to higher heights.”

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    “SM City Naga has changed the shopping lifestyle of the Nagueno.  It has set higher standards for customer satisfaction and service.  It has become a new benchmark for entrepreneurial activities, influencing how you do business not only in Naga but also in the adjoining towns and cities.”

    SM City Naga has brought SM’s shopping, leisure, and entertainment excitement to the city and other parts of the Bicol region.

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    “SM City Naga has made Naguenos part of the SM shopping experience, even if they live in a provincial city.  When in the mall, we like to go to Biggs Diner and are very fond of Cerealicious and Zagu.  Am also pleased that some of my favorite stores have Naga branches.”

    Aika at the Plains and Prints store at SM City Naga.

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    “ Local delicacies like laing, bicol express, and pinangat, while uniquely Bicolano, have their own Naga version.”

    The Robredos  – Jesse, Leni Gerona-Robredo, Aika, Janine Patricia, and Jillian Therese – at Triboo Grill, one of their favorite restaurants at SM City Naga.