HONORABLE RODOLFO J. ESPINA, SR. Mayor, Municipality of Kawayan, Biliran Luisito Montalbo
Stories of leadership often fail to fully capture what the person behind the position goes through as he or she tries to institute changes in the organization. Many leadership stories tend to gloss over personal difficulties and highlight only those that make the leader appear bigger and brighter. What these stories fail to recognize is that there is much to learn from the struggles that come before the victory.
This is the story of Mayor Rodolfo J. Espina, Mayor of the Municipality of Kawayan, a 5th class municipality found in the Province of Biliran. In this story, we will experience the struggles of one who, from the depths of his humanity, fought not only against the forces of change, but even against the forces that threatened his very soul.
Born into Politics
Rodolfo “Rudy” J. Espina was born into politics. His father, Gerardo “Gerry” Sabinay Espina was an Assemblyman and Majority Floor Leader of the Batasang Pambansa from 1978 to 1984, during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. Congressman Gerry Espina also held various Cabinet positions in the Marcos era, including Minister of State for Labor from 1981 to 1984, and concurrently Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry. Today, the elder Espina continues to be the lone Representative of the Province of Biliran, a position he has held since 1995.
A number of Mayor Rudy’s siblings are likewise in politics. His younger brother, Hon. Gerry Boy Espina, Jr. has been a Congressman in the Province of Biliran since 2004 up to the present. His elder twin brother Governor Rogelio J. Espina is Governor of our province of Biliran since 2001 up to present.
Rudy and his siblings had an early start in the world of politics. At 11 years old, Rudy was already campaigning for the 1971 Constitutional Convention, where his father was a delegate. This experience gave him early exposure to the pressures and demands, as well as the rewards and temptations inherent to Philippine politics. It also shaped his early political life, giving him models and ideas on what politics is and what politicians are expected to do.
“My first exposure in politics dates back the years 1971 Constitutional Convention up to the present during Ex-president Ferdinand E. Marcos. I was only 11 years old during that time. My family especially my brothers and sisters used to render a song while playing our instruments in front of crowds gathering during campaign sorties of my father in Manila. I would speak in front of the people in political rallies trying to convince them to vote for him ( I used to say “ salamat po or thank you” after the song rendered and say “huwag po sana nating kalimutan ang tatay do sa darating na eleksyon, maraming salamat po” during the assemblyman eriod (1978 – 1984). I used to attend political meetings of my father and trying to listen and know their strategies and concept; meeting political leaders, talking to them and in sometimes absorbing inputs and minsan giving ideas also. I was already 18 years old na during that time. I’ve been assigned to campaign areas or places where I will be in-charged of setting up political posters, giving of political pamphlets in a house to house manner. I used to coordinate with leaders where I am assigned, trying to know the most convenient and effective way of delivering my work assignment in less time. I used to talk to people while doing my sorties, asking for their support for my father and convincing them the programs and projects to come one’s my father will be elected. In a way I’ve been a people pleaser and at the same time facilitator and mediator.”
After graduating from the Far Eastern University with a degree in Architecture in 1978, Rudy helped manage the family farm in Tanay, Rizal. He later moved on to manage the different real estate properties of the family, i.e., collecting rent, dealing with...