Bobby Aboitiz: The man who loves Cebu

Cebu Daily News - - NEWS - By Cris Evert Lato-Ruf­folo CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Roberto Ed­uardo “Bobby” Aboitiz was a man who truly loved Cebu.

Un­der his lead­er­ship as pres­i­dent of the Ra­mon Aboitiz Foun­da­tion Inc. (Rafi), he spear­headed and sup­ported youth de­vel­op­ment and so­cial de­vel­op­ment pro­grams, among which are the Kool Ad­ven­ture Camp (KAC) and Mega Cebu.

In her trib­ute to her hus­band after the Mass of Res­ur­rec­tion held last Mon­day at 3 p.m., Maria Cristina “Mar­ian” Aboitiz says Bobby be­lieved in the po­ten­tial of Ce­buanos to steer de­vel­op­ment with the help of the “bugsay” (pad­dle).

Bobby used the bugsay prin­ci­ple in spread­ing the mes­sage that each per­son has the abil­ity to power-pad­dle one­self to- ward a cho­sen des­tiny and to bring about pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment to the com­mu­nity.

“He was guided by the be­lief that progress will come about if ev­ery­one was in­volved,” she told an au­di­ence of fam­ily mem­bers, politi­cians, de­vel­op­ment work­ers and Rafi em­ploy­ees.

Fam­ily man

Mar­ian says Bobby was a “great father” and “won- der­ful hus­band.”

“Bobby loves Cebu. When we got married, he told me we will never leave Cebu. He truly be­lieved in Cebu,” she says.

Mar­ian says Bobby con­stantly re­minded their four chil­dren — Amaya, Ana, Tris­tan and Car­los — that “not ev­ery­one has the same priv­i­leges that they have.”

He taught his chil­dren to ride the mo­tor­bike, to love Sun­days spent in the oceans, to tie knots and fish with bam­boo poles.

“He en­cour­aged them to look at the big pic­ture, to be fair and be en­gaged… pas­sage on the val­ues and his­tory of the Aboitiz fam­ily,” she says.

Mar­ian says Bobby lis­tened to the mu­sic of the Beach Boys, the Bea­tles and the Everly Brothers.

“I can go on and on and tell you about Bobby, but he would not want me to do that. He would want me to pick up your bugsay to­day. Work to­gether to make this place we call home a bet­ter one,” she adds.

Also in at­ten­dance Mon­day were his sib­lings: Jon Ra­mon, Mikel Al­berto and Diana Aboitiz-Ca­cho.

Three stooges

Jon Ra­mon says Bobby was as low-key as he was hum­ble.

Grow­ing up in Cebu, Jon Ra­mon says they loved spend­ing time in Liloan. His brother loved the “Three Stooges.”

“He was pas­sion­ate with vin­tage cars and mo­tor­bikes. He loved fish­ing even when many times he came back empty handed,” he says.

Among the many pro­grams of Rafi, Jon Ra­mon says Bobby pushes for the KAC and its camp in Balam­ban to give a venue for public school chil­dren, teach­ers and the public to par­tic­i­pate in a pro­gram that pro­motes team­work, col­lab­o­ra­tion and lead­er­ship.

Bobby was in­stru­men­tal in the ac­tu­al­iza­tion of the Mega Cebu pro­gram.

“His dream was to unite gov­ern­ment, civil so­ci­ety and pri­vate sec­tor to es­tab­lish well-planned projects that truly ben­e­fit the Ce­buanos,” he says.

Jon Ra­mon says Bobby trans­formed Rafi from a small foun­da­tion to a vi­brant or­ga­ni­za­tion with over 500 Rafini­ans.

Jon Ra­mon was com­posed un­til the very end of his trib­ute when he paused and turned emo­tional. “Bobby, I leave you only with one thought — we love you very much,” he says be­fore he stepped off the podium and went back to his chair.

ROBERTO ED­UARDO ABOITIZ

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