Aika Robredo: Dad was always there for us

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 22 2012 03:00 AM | Updated as of Aug 23 2012 12:16 AM

Jessica Marie “Aika” Robredo
MANILA, Philippines – To his colleagues, the legacy that Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo left behind was his passion for good governance in the country.

But to his family, Robredo is simply a man who, despite his busy schedule in government, always made time for them.

Robredo’s eldest daughter, Jessica Marie “Aika” Robredo, said although her dad is committed to public service, he never neglected his duties as a father and as a husband.

“Sa simpleng paraan na pagiging nandiyan kapag kailangan namin siya. Mahalaga kasi sa kanya na sa dami ng tinutulungan niya, kapag kami naman ang nangangailangan sa kanya ay parati naman siyang pwede. Sa lagay na iyon, parati siyang available kahit for dinner lang, or kapag may assignments ang mga kapatid ko tapos kailangan nila ng tulong niya, o magpapahatid sa school, talagang sinisiguro niya na nandiyan siya,” she told ABS-CBN’s “Bandila” on Tuesday.

On the day of the plane crash that killed him, Robredo was said to be rushing home so could attend an awarding ceremony for his daughter Jillian Therese, who won a swimming competition in the Palarong Panlungsod.

According to Jun Lavadia, the family's spokesperson, Jillian was worried that people will blame her for the accident because her dad was rushing to come home for her.

But Aika said her sister is now doing alright, and is drawing strength from the outpouring of praise for their father.

Aika said that her father would have rushed home to see them regardless if there was an awarding ceremony or not.

“Alam namin na whether may awarding ceremony man o wala, may swimming man [si Jillian] o wala, the soonest na pwede siyang umuwi, uuwi talaga siya,” she said.

She also said the family is able to cope with Robredo’s untimely death, thanks to the prayers and support from the public.

“Malaki ‘yung pasasalamat namin sa lahat ng nagdadasal at nagpapakita ng pagmamahal, nakakagaan ito ng loob. Napaka-bittersweet ng mga nangyari sa amin sa mga nakaraang araw kasi malungkot man kami, nakikita naman namin na napakarami palang nagmamahal kay Papa, nakakatulong ‘yun sa amin ng malaki,” she said.

“Siguro ito na rin ‘yung perfect ending, kung nakikita niya tayo ngayon siguro ay nakangiti ‘yun at tumatawa-tawa pa,” she added.

Aika, then a high school student at the Universidad de Sta Isabel in Naga City, wrote an essay on why her father serves as her inspiration.

The essay won the grand prize of the Ramon Magsaysay Student Essay Competition in 2003.

'Not one to panic'

Robredo's daughter said that because of his duties as local government secretary, her father was used to traveling via airplane.

Aika said in her mother's last conversation with Robredo minutes before the crash, his voice sounded calm.

“Kalmadong kalmado ‘yung boses ni Papa, which kami naman, hindi na namin ikinagulat kasi unang-una, malakas ang loob niya sa eroplano. Kung magkakasama kami sa eroplano tapos malakas ‘yung turbulence, kami kabado na pero siya tinatawanan niya lang kami lahat,” she said.

“Hindi siya ‘yung tipong magpa-panic. Paniniwala rin niya na kung oras mo na, oras mo na,” she added.

Lone survivor

Aika expressed gratitude to Sr. Insp. Jun Abrazado, Robredo’s aide who survived Saturday’s crash.

“Nagpapasalamat ‘yung nanay ko sa pamilya ni Jun kasi tingin naman namin ginawa niya ‘yung lahat ng kaya niyang gawin. Napakabuti niya sa amin, sobrang bait niya kapag nagkikita-kita kami,” she said.

Abrazado said the crash knocked him unconscious and when he gained consciousness, he could no longer locate Robredo.

Abrazado was rescued by a fisherman and was brought to the shore, but returned with the rescue team to help in the search for Robredo and the two pilots, Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese Kshitiz Chand.

Aika said their family is thankful for Abrazado’s efforts and they have no doubts that he did all he could to save Robredo.

“Hindi na namin iniisip ‘yun ngayon, ‘yung paniniwala kasi ng magulang ko, kapag oras mo na talaga, oras mo na,” said Aika. “Napaka-peaceful daw ng itsura ni Papa so kami parang na-appease na din kami. Hindi naman siguro siya nahirapan. Hindi na pumasok sa isipan namin na isipin pa kung ano ang nangyari between 4:40 and 5.”

Robredo’s body was found by divers inside the plane’s fuselage on the seabed located 800 meters from the shore Tuesday morning.

The bodies of the two pilots, meanwhile, have yet to be recovered. The retrieval operations will resume on Wednesday.

Tuesday burial

Aika said her father’s burial is tentatively scheduled Tuesday next week.

Robredo’s remains will be kept at the Archbishop’s Palace in Naga City until Thursday and will be transferred to Malacañang’s Kalayaan Hall on Friday.

On Sunday, Aika said Robredo’s remains will be brought home back to Naga, where he served as mayor for 18 years.