Renato Tibon .
“Champions are made from something they have deep inside – a desire, a dream, a vision.” -Mahatma Gandhi
A CHAMPION is a winner, one who is proficient intellectually or physically in a contest or game. If you are a champion boxer like Manny Pacquiao, you are the toast of the town, a hero. When your team wins, the partisan crowd will enthusiastically sing Queen’s “We are the Champion” song to celebrate and tell everyone they too belong to the winning brand. In another front, to champion means to do battle for another’s right or honor or to fight for or serve a cause. Thus, public servants act as people’s champion to protect and support and/or publicly defend they who are too weak to advocate for their own cause. Essentially, the eagerness to succeed is tempered with brains or brawn fitness, the sine qua non of true heroes. You can’t be a champion for yourself or others, without the training and skills and the ultimate desire to serve or excel in your field. And everything originates in the campus, the arena or place of action where combatants or champions train, hone and perfect their abilities and competence.
To one named Rufus Bautista Rodriguez, winning comes naturally notwithstanding the tougher grind expected of an above-average campus student. The desire for excellence exists early on. A consistent honoree, he was awarded Valedictorian in elementary and high school at Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City. Capping his scholastic achievements, he graduated Summa Cum Laude finishing at the top of his class in AB Economics at De la Salle University, Manila in April 1975. Further honing his academic skills, he took up Bachelor of Laws as a college scholar at the University of the Philippines in April of 1980, graduating 7th in his class, becoming President of the UP Society of Law Students and Chairman of the Philippine Association of Law Students. He was conferred his Master of Arts in Economics in 1984 back in his home campus at Xavier University. According to Mario Andretti, “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”
Coupled with the desire to excel is the goal to succeed. For that’s the stuff champions’ dreams are made of: aspiration, a deep longing and wish to be on top, not intrinsically just for personal glory as for others’ sake. The dream to serve profoundly ingrained in the heart of Rufus Rodriguez, the quintessential achiever, he took the BAR exams in 1981, placing 17th among the Top-notchers. Law, being a specialized field of endeavor, he sharpened his knowledge of, through studies abroad garnering Certificates of Achievements at the Academy on American and International Law and Parker Program on International and Foreign Law, topped with a Masters of Law at Columbia University School of Law which conferred on him the Harlan Fiske Stone Honors (Magna Cum Laude). He was likewise bestowed Certificates as Leaders in Development by the JF Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, at Summer Courses on Public International Law by The Hague Academy of International Law, at the 17th Session of the Rhodes Academy of Ocean Laws and Policy, and Doctorates, first of Humanities (Civil Law), Doctor of Laws and Doctor of Public Administration, all Honoris Causa. The dreams are now becoming objectives.
Being the champion of our own life is the most gratifying feeling there is. But it’s not an end in itself. There’s the social conscience that makes public service the “ultima finis”, the ultimate goal in life. With a clear vision, Atty. Rufus Rodriguez, forsook his personal dream of aggrandizement in the legal field and decided to run for public office. He was elected first as a Senior Board Member and as the youngest Vice-Governor of Misamis Oriental before launching a political career as Representative for District 2 of Cagayan de Oro City. Widely-known and dearly beloved by his constituents in the district, the good Congressman was elected for 3 straight terms, making a mark in Congress with no absences, introducing and passing the most number of bills into laws not only with national implications but specifically for the benefit of his district. Today, with his specific goals getting headway in implemented projects and programs such as the extension of the Coastal Road Project from Gusa to Bugo and the J.R. Borja Extension Road from Gusa to Sayre Highway in Barangay Puerto, he seeks a fresh mandate, vowing to pass laws that will fund the projects including his programs in Health, Education, Employment and Livelihood, Dwelling, Infrastructure, agriculture, environment, tourism, peace and order, traffic and waste management. A champion all the way, his vision is for a progressive, livable and competitive Cagayan de Oro City, a “Bag-ong Kagayan” with a competent Mayor exemplified by candidate Jose Gabriel “Pompee” La Vina, a crusader against corruption and criminality.
Like a real champion, getting his recognition as the Best of the Best, Congressman Rufus Bautista Rodriguez received awards highlighting his achievements: Most Outstanding High School Student of Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao, Most Outstanding Alumnus Award by both his Alma Maters Xavier University and De la Salle University, Most Outstanding Public Official, Gold Vision Triangle Award, Highest Award conferred by YMCA Philippines including YMCA Centennial Leadership Award for Government Service and consistently as one of the Ten Outstanding Congressmen in 2010 and another one, among the Twenty Most Outstanding Congressmen Award in 2013 and lately the Oustanding Mindanaonon Awardee of the First Mindanao Governance and Leadership Excellence Award given by Mindanao Daily and the Veterans Bank.
As Michael Jordan, the NBA’s greatest basketball player of all time said, “True champions are not born, they are made.”
(Renato Gica Tibon is a fellow of the Fellowship of the 300, an elite organization under Centrist Democracy Political Institute [CDPI] with focus on political technocracy. He holds both position as political action officer and program manager of the Institute. He is the former regional chairman for Region 10 and vice president for Mindanao of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines [CDP].)