MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo hopes her eldest daughter Aika will dedicate her life serving Filipinos as the latter graduates from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Robredo was all smiles as she stood beside her daughter Aika on Thursday, May 24, as the university-wide commencement exercises in Harvard were about to start.
Aika is graduating as an Edward S. Mason Fellow for the Mid-Career Master in Public Administration program – the same program Aika’s late father, interior secretary Jesse Robredo, finished in 1999.
“[I wish for her a] life dedicated to the country and to helping Filipinos,” the Vice President told Rappler minutes before the start of the graduation ceremony.
Robredo, a lawyer-turned-politician, said Aika would be challenged to face the “difficult times” in the Philippines.
“These are difficult times for the Philippines. She has to learn how to navigate all the complexities of what is in our midst back home,” said Robredo.
Aika, or Jessica Marie, is no stranger to politics and government affairs. Before pursuing her master’s degree at Harvard, Aika was the head executive assistant at the Office of Civil Defense from July 2014 to October 2015.
She also served as executive and technical assistant at the Department of Transportation and Communications from October 2012 to June 2014.
When Robredo ran for vice president in 2016, Aika represented her mother in various events and also headed Robredo’s surrogate and volunteer management team.
Aika said she is “more excited than afraid” now that she is set to go back home. The Harvard graduate, however, is still unsure where in the Philippines she will work.
“For sure, uuwi ako (I’ll go home), but I have to figure out exactly what I’ll be doing when I go home. But definitely I will work there and spend the next couple of years there,” said Aika.
The Vice President and her daughter are expected to also attend the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s separate graduation ceremony for its students after the university-wide commencement exercises.
In 2008, Aika graduated with honorable mention from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in management engineering.
Nine years later, the Vice President’s daughter got accepted into her two dream schools: Harvard and the University of Oxford for its Master of Public Policy program. Aika decided to follow her father’s footsteps and picked Harvard.
In June 2017, Robredo herself flew to the United States to help Aika settle in before her first semester in Harvard began. – with reports from Glenda Gloria/Rappler.com