Robredo was coming home to give daughter a treatBy Juan Escandor Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
NAGA CITY—Busy as ever in his job, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo wanted to be home here on Saturday to give a treat to his youngest daughter, Jillian, who had won a bronze medal in an international mathematics contest recently held in Singapore.
Although he was booked on a commercial flight back to Manila at 4 p.m. after a series of activities in Cebu City, Robredo decided to return to Naga earlier by taking a chartered flight.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer learned about Robredo’s haste to come home Sunday from one of his closest friends. His wife, Maria Leonor or “Leni,” a lawyer, confirmed the story.
Leni said her husband had called her up about the plan. She referred the Inquirer to Julian Lavadia Jr., a childhood friend of Jesse’s, for the details.
Lavadia said Leni had told her husband in an earlier phone conversation not to bother coming here because Jillian would have already been given local recognition for her achievement before he could reach Naga.
“If the awarding had been done, he would give her daughter a blowout,” Robredo was quoted as telling his wife.
It was just like him to have wanted to do that, Lavadia said. In spite of his demanding job, Robredo always found time to attend to his children’s personal needs. The Robredos have three daughters—Aika, 23, Patricia, 18, and Jillian, 13.
Lavadia said Robredo would tutor his children in school assignments whenever he had time.
Robredo would always try to come home and spend the weekends with his family.
William del Rosario, who had been Robredo’s friend since they were high school students at Ateneo de Naga in the 1970s, said he spoke to Robredo on Friday.
Del Rosario was undergoing treatment for a spine ailment and Robredo had recommended a doctor, who operated on him on Tuesday.
“I told him I am nervous about the operation, and he told me, ‘Padi, everything will be all right,’” Del Rosario said.
Del Rosario said Robredo’s friends were working together to attend to visitors coming to the Robredo home. They offered not only moral support but also brought food and entertained the visitors.
Lavadia said waiting for news about Robredo was agonizing.
“I want him alive,” he said. “I am pretending that he is alive. If the worst of what can be expected becomes the latest news, that will be the saddest thing.”
Lavadia said he talked to Robredo on August 12 in Manila about the slogan they would use in the sports development council that Robredo used to head and that he, Lavadia, now headed.
He said he learned about the plane crash while he was at a moviehouse from Robredo’s executive assistant, lawyer Nina Rances. He said he immediately left the place with his wife, Naga Councilor Babet Lavadia, and went straight to the house of Robredo at 5:30 p.m. and stayed there all night.
He said friends, allies and journalists stayed overnight. On Sunday, people came and went, all anxiously waiting for news about the search and rescue operation in Masbate.