Robredo laid to rest in NagaBy Totel de Jesus
MANILA, Philippines—Accepting the posthumous Philippine Legion of Honor award in her husband’s behalf, the wife of Secretary Jesse Robredo on Tuesday said the entire family was honored though the pomp and pageantry would make “Jesse a little uncomfortable.”
“If we could hear Jess speak, sasabihin nya sobra sobra na ’to (this is too much already),” said lawyer Leni Robredo in her acceptance speech after the concelebrated funeral Mass that was broadcast live on television late morning at Naga City.
She thanked members of the Cabinet who were with Robredo until the end, naming Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, Budget Secretary Butch Abad and Cavite Representative Joseph Abaya.
She also cited Social Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang and Peace Process Adviser Teresita “Ding” Deles for helping the family in organizing the burial rites.
Recounting some of their happy moments, Leni said Robredo was always there for their three daughters despite his busy schedule.
“He would drop everything for the girls,” said Leni. She recounted how Robredo would badger Secretary Roxas for tickets at the UAAP basketball games whenever the Ateneo team played to give to their eldest, 23-year-old Aika, a student of Ateneo de Manila University.
She said her husband would ask her to pray before the Blessed Sacrament whenever their second child, 18-year-old Patricia, had an exam. Robredo would also tutor her on her math assignments their youngest, 13-year-old Jillian, by telephone.
“He was never too busy for all of us,” she said. Aika and Patricia live with Robredo in Manila while Jillian lives in Naga City with Leni.
She said Robredo would send her text messages only to inform her they had just finished eating dinner and his evening ritual would follow.
“The ritual means signing documents he had brought home.”
She said when he was still mayor of Naga City, he never made the children feel a sense of entitlement. “In the end, what’s best is leaving a good name,” she said.
She said Robredo’s dream for himself was simple and that he never dreamt of becoming Interior and Local Government secretary.
“He told me, ‘quoting quota na ako (I’ve reached my quota).’ His cup was overflowing,” she said.
During the tragic day of his death, Leni said she told Robredo to take the bus to Naga instead and not hurry home. But Robredo took a plane to be with them at once. “That was Jess to the very core, always working so hard, always rushing home to be with his family.”
When he knew that death was certain, she said in his calm voice, Robredo was able to call her only to tell her he’ll call again later because he had to attend to something important. The next call never came.
“He would always shield me from fear,” she said.
Addressing Robredo’s casket, she said, “You may have been prepared to die, we are not prepared to lose you.”
President Aquino in his eulogy said what Robredo had shown as a trailblazer was that being successful in politics doesn’t mean being a ‘trapo’ (traditional politician).
Aquino paid tribute to Robredo as a leader who got things done while rising above the corruption that infests Philippine politics.
“All of Naga feel like they have lost a father,” he said, wearing a black arm band as a sign of mourning.
Aquino’s entire cabinet attended the funeral of a colleague whom they had hailed as perhaps the most hard working among them.
They stood beside Robredo’s grieving widow and three daughters as police and military honour guards in crisp blue and green uniforms carried the coffin.
As the mournful bugle music “Taps” played, Aquino handed the Philippine flag that draped Robredo’s coffin to his widow.
A three-volley salute by 21 military riflemen followed, before the coffin was wheeled inside the crematorium for a private ceremony reserved for family members.
Robredo, 54, was on his way home to Naga aboard a twin-engine airplane when it encountered engine trouble and plunged into the deep sea in the central Philippines on August 18.
After a three-day search, divers pulled Robredo’s remains from the wreck on the seabed. The pilot and his co-pilot also died, while Robredo’s security aide survived.
Aquino appointed Robredo shortly after he won the presidency in 2010 on a platform to end corruption.
Robredo was widely praised for leading reforms in the country’s 143,000-strong corruption-plagued police force and seeking to implement a policy of transparency in government.
His political star rose in 2000 when he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for good governance. The well-respected award recognises achievers annually across the region. With a report from Agence France-Presse
Originally posted at 2:02 p.m.