Closed casket for Robredo as wake begins
NAGA CITY, Philippines - Despite the late hour, Nagueños came out on the streets to pay respect to their beloved leader of 18 years.
On Tuesday, August 21, the wake of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo began after 9 hours in a funeral parlor, about 16 hours since his body was retrieved earlier that day. His plane crashed off Masbate last Saturday, August 18.
Family and Cabinet members transferred the remains of Robredo from Funeraria Imperial in Naga -- where his body was brought straight from the Naga airport when it first arrived from Masbate -- to Archbishop's Palace at about 10:40pm.
Locals waited patiently and lit up candles outside their homes as the convoy passed, while crowds lined the chapel for the public viewing on the first night of Robredo's wake.
Robredo served three terms as Naga City's mayor, and is credited for developing Naga into a first-class city.
At the Archbishop's Palace, the mood was somber.
Friends and family filled the chapel to the brim, as supporters lined up for a chance to say their goodbyes to Robredo.
Philippine National Police members carried Robredo's bronze casket with gold handles into the chapel, tailed by his wife Leni in black, and their daughters Aika, 24, Patricia, 18, and Jillian, 12.
Mass started immediately after.
Archbishop Leonardo Legazpi led the service, and encouraged those present to be happy for Robredo, who was in a better place.
"Jess believed in Jesus," he said in Filipino. "He was a good father, friend and public servant."
After the mass, Legazpi approached Robredos and shook their hands.
A closed casket public viewing also began. Hundreds of well wishers walked through the chapel, bowing at Robredo's casket which was draped with a Philippine flag.
Also present were government officials such as Senator Franklin Drilon, and Cabinet members Dinky Soliman, Butch Abad, and Ricky Carandang.
'He would've called'
In a show of exemplary strength, Robredo's oldest daughter Aika faced the media at the end of the service.
She expressed her gratitude and said she and her family were overwhelmed by the show of support towards her father.
After news broke of Robredo's death, Nagueños tied yellow ribbons across the city and wore yellow shirts -- his favorite color. Banners and posters cropped up thanking Robredo for his service.
Aika also clarified that her family did not blame Robredo's aide Jun Abrasado for her father's death at all. Abrasado was in the plane with Robredo and was the sole survivor of the crash.
"Napakabuti niya sa amin," she said, adding that he did everything he could to save her father. "Wala kaming masabi."
She also said that while the news of her father's death was sad, they have been realistic over the past two days.
After the first 24 hours without good news, she said they braced themselves for the worst knowing that had he survived the crash, he would have found a way to call them.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Soliman, who has been with the Robredos since the crash, said the President told her of the news when she landed in Manila.
Soliman had returned to the capital to resume work. Upon hearing the news, she took a flight right back to Naga to be with the family.
According to Soliman, President Benigno Aquino III's priority was the Robredos. She said he wanted to make sure they were okay.
Aquino himself accompanied Robredo's remains to Naga from Masbate.
Soliman said she and the other Cabinet members have found comfort in each other during this trying time.
She also admitted that the family had originally wanted an open casket but ultimately decided against it.
"We want the people to remember Robredo as his smiling self," she said in Filipino, on the decision to keep the casket closed.
Robredo had been underwater for over two days when divers found his body inside the plane, on the bottom of the ocean.
For his part, Secretary of Budget and Management Abad told Rappler that he admired Robredo for his dedication to good governance.
"He's a different breed of public servant," he said. "It's complicated enough to work in government and in politics but to be somebody who is trying to change both… you don't find that guy every day."
Robredo's body is scheduled to be flown to Manila on Friday, August 24, and back to Naga on Sunday, August 26, where Aika said he is likely to be buried.- Rappler.com