NAGA CITY, Philippines — The man who will celebrate the final Mass for the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo is a missionary from one of Robredo’s favorite charities.
Father Ambrose Kulandairaj walks around in sandals and white priestly garb. The superior of the Missionaries of the Poor, his simplicity stands out.
On Wednesday, August 24, Robredo’s widow, Leni Robredo told media that instead of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to Robredo’s favorite charities instead.
He mentioned 3: the Missionaries of the Poor, Physicians for Peace, and the Lolo Jose Foundation.
Kulandairaj said he was pleasantly surprised by Leni’s appeal.
“I know that Secretary Jesse was close to us, but we were surprised to know that we were his favorite charity,” he said. “Because a man of this stature knew so many people.”
Work for the poor
Kulandairaj explained the work of the Missionaries of the Poor, which is committed to sheltering the homeless, including the elderly, orphans, and homeless children especially those with special needs.
“We have a home that houses 150 homeless persons including children,” he said. “We also run a school, a preschool for children from the very poor communities from dumpsite and squatter communities.”
He said the money they will receive will go to food for those they serve — they use up two sacks of rice a day — and for milk and diapers for the children, as well as toiletries.
They are also hoping to build a clinic for the poor. Kulandairaj encourages those interested to visit.
He added that since the press conference, the organization has also received calls from interested donors including the Office of the President, and people from across the country including Cebu, Leyte, Naga and Manila.
Naga City Vice Mayor Gaby Bordado said that the choice of the family to help the Missionaries of the Poor and to choose Kulandairaj to celebrate his Mass before the interment is telling of the family and Robredo’s character.
“Instead of getting a high-ranking member or official of the clergy, the family decided to get the head of the Missionaries of the Poor,” he said.
“It’s a reflection of the continuing solidarity of the family with the poor. [Jesse] was very at ease with the poor. Up to the end of his life, he was working for the poor.”
Helping the blind
Bordado also talked about the Lolo Jose Foundation, one of the 3 charities mentioned by Leni Robredo as a beneficiary of donations.
The Lolo Jose Foundation was started by the Robredos, to reach out to other people afflicted with blindness.
Robredo’s father Jose, his brother Butch, and his sister Jenny, are all blind due to a genetic ailment.
Penny Robredo-Bundoc, one of the sisters and a medical doctor, coordinates the activities of the foundation. In Naga City, they have established a Center for the Blind in the Raul S Roco Library, which provides state-of-the-art equipment for the blind and numerous books in Braille for their use.
Leni Robredo also asked for donations for another one of her husband’s favorite charities, Physicians for Peace (PFP).
While there were no representatives for PFP at the press conference, according to its website, the organization “provides education, clinical care, and medical supplies to country with unmet needs and scarce resources.”
How to donate
Below is information on how to donate to the Robredos’ charities of choice.
Missionaries of the Poor Inc.
Bank account: Metrobank
Naga-General Luna Branch
Bicol: (054) 475 4730
Cebu: (032) 236 9246
Manila: 0921 637 4900
Physicians for Peace
Phone: 0919 6444853 (according to website)
Hear Robredo’s sister Penny talk about PFP
Lolo Jose Foundation