Notes & Essays

Aika Robredo Remembers Her Father, Jesse, On His Eighth Death Anniversary

'I've always thought of August 18 as a homecoming.'
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Jesse Robredo was the nation's Secretary of the Interior and Local Government when the small plane he was onboard went missing on August 18, 2012, off the coast of Masbate.

Robredo had been mayor of Naga City for six terms, and was the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service. 

He left behind his wife, Leni, and their three children, Jessica (Aika), Patricia, and Jillian, who won over the hearts of the nation as they grieved.

Aika, Robredo's eldest child, also a graduate of her father's alma mater, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, shared her feelings about the anniversary in the Facebook post below:

Jesse and Jessica, Tokyo 1994

I lost count of the number of times I had to narrate my account of August 18, 2012. To this day, the most difficult thing I ever had to do was to look at Patty in the eye and tell her, calmly while trying to keep myself together, that Papa’s plane was missing. And I don’t think I’ve been the same person since then.

Over the years, there were parts of me that had to go in order to make room for understanding and survival. For unlearning and relearning. For rediscovering magic in the new and the ordinary — places to explore, people to love (better), fresh answers to old questions. There are parts that remain gentle and forgiving (and, hopefully, kind). And then there are parts that will keep coming back home.

I’ve always thought of August 18 as a homecoming. Every year, there is a reunion of some sort. Perhaps it’ll be a different kind of homecoming this year. One that will encourage us to make peace with ourselves and embrace even the parts we’ve been trying to bury for so long — they may turn out to be the best parts of who we are today.

Home has always been where Papa is, and this is the part where I remind myself that he never really left. There is no Jessica without Jesse. He continues to live in all of us. Please include him in your prayers today. 

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