Latest Stories

Leni Robredo takes first plane ride since her husband’s last trip

By , Cris Evert Lato Doris C. Bongcac and Juan Escandor Jr.

CEBU CITY—Since her husband’s death last year, Camarines Sur Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo had refused to ride a plane.

But the widow of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo took her first commercial flight to Cebu on Thursday when she retraced her husband’s last trip that ended in a tragic plane crash in Masbate that killed him, pilot Capt. Jessup Bahinting and student pilot Kshitiz Chand, a Nepalese, on Aug. 18, 2012.

“I had to play games on my mobile phone to calm my nerves,” she told reporters in Filipino.

Leni later told Councilor Margot Osmeña, wife of former Cebu City Rep. Tomas Osmeña, a good friend of the late Cabinet secretary, that her flight to Cebu was her first since her husband died.

“We are very honored that she came. She (Leni) said it was her first commercial plane ride after her husband died,” Osmeña told the Inquirer.

Osmeña said that after the crash, Leni took the eight-hour bus ride from Naga City to Manila and back because she had developed a fear of flying.

Leni had to overcome her fears after she decided to retrace her husband’s last trip during his first death anniversary—from the time his plane was reported to have crashed in the waters off Masbate, the three days of frantic search that led to his and his two pilots’ remains on the downed plane to Robredo’s state funeral and beyond.

Leni described the journey as emotional.

A year ago on Sunday, Robredo took a four-seater chartered plane from Cebu, even as he was already booked in a commercial flight to Manila, because he wanted to be home in Naga City in time for his youngest daughter Jillian’s swimming competition at the Naga City Science High School. The plane, a Piper Seneca, eventually crashed due to engine trouble.

Leni and two companions arrived at Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City around 8 a.m. on Thursday.

They were met at the airport by the widow and daughter of Captain Bahinting, owner and pilot of the ill-fated Piper Seneca plane that crashed off the waters off Masbate on Aug. 18, 2012.

She said she never blamed the pilot for the tragedy that claimed her husband’s life.

“I have long sympathized with them (Bahinting family) because we both lost a loved one. We were all in mourning. But as far as my husband is concerned, the public response was very overwhelming. But in their case, there was blame. I wanted to go to the family to give them comfort because I know how difficult it is to lose a loved one,” she said.

Leni and Margarita Bahinting, widow of the pilot, talked for two and a half hours over breakfast at Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino Mactan in Lapu-Lapu, exchanging stories about how their respective families coped with grief and loss.

“We wanted to get in touch with her, but I think the time was just not right to do it. We had common friends, acquaintances, but it was only now that we managed to meet,” said Sarah Lynn Bahinting, the youngest daughter of the Bahinting family.

Sarah said they received a call from the secretary of Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district that Leni wanted to meet them on Thursday during the launching of a photo exhibit in honor of her husband at SM City Cebu.

After breakfast, Sarah said they toured the Aviatour hangar in Lapu-Lapu City, where they stayed for less than an hour to check the planes.

Sarah described their first encounter as “more personal than professional,” adding that she saw a very sincere Leni, who took the time to check the Aviatour’s hangar and planes.

She asked to view a Piper Seneca plane, the same model that her husband took when it crashed last year.

“She said, ‘Ah gamay diay (Oh, it is so small).’ Our mechanic also talked to her and told her some information about our planes,” said Sarah.

Sarah said they exchanged apologies about not being able to send flowers during the wake. “The funeral was a sensitive time for both families,” said Sarah.

No tear was shed during the brief meeting, but Sarah said their family was relieved to have finally met Leni.

“Like Congresswoman Robredo, this is also part of our healing,” she said.

Leni admitted that meeting the Bahintings made her imagine what it was like during her husband’s last hours.

“In a way, it gave me the sense of his last hours,” Leni said. “I know that at one point or another, I have to face all the difficult moments and that was one of those.”

She said she and her husband believed in fate and destiny. “So, when it happened, I said, ’yun ang kagustuhan ng Diyos (it was God’s will),” she said.

Leni described as a “360-degree turn” the changes in her life and that of her daughters, having been thrust into the limelight—a very unfamiliar world that Jesse used to shield them from.

Her daughters—Aika, 26, Tricia, 19, and Jillian, 14—who were once low-key figures, have learned to engage in roles that thrust them into the public eye, she said.

“Aika, for a very long time, was working in a private corporation. Her Papa had been encouraging her to try government service, but she did not like it. But all of a sudden when her Papa died, she changed her mind and entered government service,” Leni said.

Aika is now an executive assistant to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

“We were surprised when Tricia told us she auditioned as a courtside reporter of the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) and made it. I was amazed because among my three children, she was the reserved one,” said Leni.

Leni said Jillian, the youngest, has fully recovered from the loss of her father at a young age and is doing well at the Philippine Science High School in Manila.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: air travel , anniversaries , Jesse Robredo , Leni Robredo , plane ride

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • Lacson eyes P106-B ‘Yolanda’ rehab masterplan
  • What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Visiting chefs from Denmark get creative with ‘ube,’ ‘ buko,’ ‘calamansi,’ mangoes
  • Salted baked potatoes
  • A first in a mall: Authentic Greek yogurt–made fresh in front of diners
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  • Marketplace