Retracing Jesse’s last route

Raffy Magno
For the first time since her husband's death, Camarines Sur Rep Leni Robredo visits the crash site

REMEMBER JESSE. Camarines Sur Rep Leni Robredo lays white flowers at the site of a plane crash where her husband and two others perished to commemorate his 1st death anniversary. Photo by Raffy Magno/Rappler

MASBATE, Philippines – On August 17, a day before the 1st death anniversary of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, his widow, Camarines Sur Rep Leni Robredo, braved the odds and finally decided to visit the plane’s crash site for the 1st time.

A team composed of city officials, close friends and office staff left Naga City at 4am to retrace the last route of Sec Robredo. Most of them were also in Masbate a year ago, extending help for the search and rescue operations.

The team arrived at 10am and went directly to the Cathedral of St. Anthony to hear a mass offered for the late secretary. In the homily, Bishop Jose Bantolo recalled the life of Robredo.

“Jesse remained simple while doing public service. He will not remain a memory, his spirit will live forever,” Bantolo said.

“May his death in Masbate be a seed for a better Masbate, for a better Philippines. Thank you Lord for the gift of a great man, Jesse Robredo,” Bantolo added.

Moving forward

After the mass, the team went to the exact spot where the plane crashed. Police Senior Inspector Jun Abrazado, the only survivor of the crash, joined the team in paying respects to those who perished a year ago.

It was an emotional remembrance as white roses and prayers were offered to the late secretary.

Rep Robredo said she still finds it difficult to look back at the tragedy.

Kagabi hindi ako makatulog, pini-prepare ko rin ang sarili ko,” Rep Leni said. (I couldn’t sleep last night. I was preparing myself.)

She recalled how she tried to visit the crash site in various occasions but she only found the courage to do so that day.

Noong nakita ko ang crash site, mas marami ang mga tanong na sumagi. Napakalapit lang ng shore sa crash site. Ngunit kahit maraming tanong, nanaig pa rin ang pananalig ko sa Diyos,” she added.

(When I saw the crash site, more questions came to my mind. The site was near the shore. But even if I have many questions, I still have faith in God.)


VALUED EFFORTS. Crash survivor and Sec Robredo's aide, Police Senior Inspector Jun Abrazado, joins Rep Leni Robredo on stage as they recognize people who contributed in last year's seach and rescue operations. Photo by Raffy Magno/ Rappler


A short commendation program was held after the wreath laying activity to recognize and thank the people who were behind the search and rescue operations last year.

Ang pagpunta ko dito ay hindi lamang para makita ang crash site, pero para pasalamatan kayong lahat,” Rep Leni said. (I came here not only to see the site but also to thank everyone who helped last year.)

The Robredo family gave tokens and cards to everyone who helped in last year’s operations.

Rep Robredo reminded the audience of the late secretary’s dreams as she called for unity in the province.

Sana po yung ipinakita ninyong pagkakaisa noong search and rescue ay ipagpatuloy natin para sa ating probinsya,” she said. (I hope that the unity we showed during last year’s search and rescue operations will be the same unity we’ll have for our province.)

The congresswoman said it’s her dream to fulfill her husband’s hope for Masbate.

Sana sa pagbalik-balik ko sa Masbate ay matupad ko ang mga pangarap ng asawa ko,” she concluded. (I hope to fulfill my husband’s dream for Masbate every time I return to this province.)

Raffy Magno is a Rappler Ambassador.