NAGA CITY, Philippines – In a black dress and often with a smile on her face, the wife of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo faced the media for the first time.
Leni, who spoke with a strong voice, shared her last conversation with her husband, as well as how their family is doing.
After the 9 am mass Thursday, August 23, she spoke to the press at the Archbishop’s Palace where the body of her husband lies.
She said she did not question his early death because she knew he was ready, and that he had told her repeatedly that his accomplishments had exceeded his hopes.
“Alam ko that he lived a full life. He fulfilled all his dreams,” she said. “I think he was prepared to face the Lord. Handang handa ‘yon.“
Leni shared that she talked to him several times before the plane he was riding crashed off the coast of Masbate, Saturday, August 18.
She said she called him on his phone around the time that the plane was experiencing engine trouble, but he was calm. He simply said he would call her back.
Leni recounted that she was at the airport to pick up her husband, but that Robredo texted her to tell her that the plane was returning to Cebu. He did not explain why.
She then returned home. There, she received a call from a security official from Robredo’s staff saying Robredo had called him, asking to clear the Masbate runway. The security official also told her a plane crashed off Masbate.
Leni said she was in denial then, and hoped it wasn’t Robredo’s plane.
“I told my youngest daughter first, I told her let us pray because something may have happened to Papa,” Leni shared. “She started crying.”
She added, “After the first night, I knew that he was gone.”
According to Leni, she did not expect the intense outpouring of support and grief shown by the nation.
Leni also emphasized that her husband had known that Jillian’s swimming competition was over, but that he still insisted on coming home to surprise them — something he always did.
She said Jillian was devastated at first, but has realized it was not her fault.
Leni also said that the watch Jillian, 12, is now wearing was the one Robredo was wearing when they recovered his body. Patricia, 18, their second daughter, is wearing his necklace.
“I’m sure na ‘yong pinakita ng tao was beyond his expectation,” she said. “Hindi lang pala taga-Naga ang nagmamahal sa kanya.”
She said Robredo often wondered if his work on the national scale was appreciated as results weren’t instant.
But Leni said he often told her how happy he was with his co-workers in the Cabinet.
“Ang husay daw ng choices sa Cabinet. He admired a lot of people in the Cabinet… lahat hardworking, lahat matino,” she said, adding that he admired the President.
Regular husband, father
Leni also shared how Robredo was at home, as a husband and father.
Robredo often came home to Naga on weekends to spend time with his family, and to do housekeeping duties that made him feel like a regular husband.
“Si Jess po was a regular husband, a regular father. Hindi siya secretary, hindi siya Mayor pag sa bahay,” she said. “Busted lights, plumbing, sirang telephone, hinihintay siya non. Hinihintay siya non,” she said.
Her husband always came back to Naga City, which she said was his happy place.
According to Leni, Robredo always told her: “Pag hindi ako uuwi, masisira ang ulo ko sa Maynila.”
She also shared that they had just celebrated their 25th anniversary together, last June 27. Robredo surprised her with a bundle of flowers that he had asked from various people on the streets on his way to her.
“We didn’t even eat out. We just stayed home,” she recalled.
She said her husband was a “simple” man who was extremely hardworking, but was happiest at home.
Telling the parents
Leni said that her in-laws still did not know about their son’s death. But now that his sister Jocelyn, a doctor from the States was home, they would tell their parents soon as they wanted to tell them of the news together.
She said that while the accident was tragic and unexpected, she said the family would try their best to be strong, which is what he would’ve wanted for them.
Leni also said she had nothing but thanks for Jun Abrasado, the aide of Robredo who survived the crash.
She said they have accepted that his death is the will of the Lord.
“Mas gusto naming isipin na ang saya saya na niya ngayon,” she said.
Thousands of Nagueños have come to the wake to pay their final respects to Robredo, who served as Mayor of Naga City for 6 terms over 18 years.
His body was missing until it was retrieved Tuesday morning, August 21. The bodies of two other pilots on the flight with him have also been recovered as of early this morning.
Robredo’s body will be flown to Manila on Friday, August 24, where he will be given a state funeral, and is scheduled to return to Naga on Sunday, August 26.
His burial is scheduled for Tuesday, August 28, in Naga. Leni said his body will likely be cremated. – Rappler.com
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