You remember how affected I was about the plane crash that killed Secretary Jesse Robredo. I felt the great loss for our country, but most of all I felt so sad for his three daughters and wife, Leni. I was holding my breath during the search operations and praying so hard that he would be found alive. I remember the sadness when we all learned what we were afraid of – that he was gone.
I was so sad, I felt I had to pay my last respects to a man I only met once at a UNICEF function. I went to Villamor and waited for his plane to land on the day of his funeral.
I had no way of sending my condolences to the family. This was the closest I got. Then during the televised funeral, when Mrs Robredo spoke, I felt an even deeper connection to the family.
That same night just after the funeral, I found a way to send an email to the eldest daughter Aika. She replied within minutes, saying that she would let her mom know about my message. She also said that her mom was an avid reader of my blog. I couldn’t believe it. That was hours after Secretary Robredo was laid to rest.
I was trying to remember our brief conversation during the UNICEF event. I know he mentioned his wife on stage, saying Leni could be doing more but chose the more important job of raising their daughters.
A week after the funeral, I wrote about how Patrick helped me out with the kids’ reviewers. I wrote, “It doesn’t really take much for dads to be awesome to daughters. I know that having an amazing dad makes daughters become amazing people.”
To my surprise, Mrs Robredo wrote a comment in that entry. Though that apparently wasn’t her first message, that was how we first “met” – barely a week after the funeral. Then we communicated by email. I felt such a strong connection with her. She had known so much about me because she had been reading my blog even before I reformatted it. And I wanted to really meet her. So we arranged to meet each other the week after.
Leni and I met at K&Company three weeks after the Robredo plane crash. By then she asked me to call her Leni. Jillian was with her but she didn’t join us for lunch. They travelled alone with no bodyguards or driver. We had the nicest conversation.
After lunch Leni said she had to rush to meet someone who was writing a book about “Jesse”. Meanwhile I had to rush to my taping where Town & Country cover girls, the Alpha Girls (including myself), would be guests. Then Yvette, the editor in chief of Town & Country texted me. She was with Leni. Yvette was the one writing the book!
I really think many kids will be inspired by Simply Jesse. My kids have known about Secretary Robredo. After Sophia saw me crying when Robredo died, we talked about what good mayors, like Robredo, can do for a city. Ever since then, she has come up with her own ideas on how she would run a city like Paranaque. She knew that a public market must be better organized, that children should have sports facilities, and that roads should have sidewalks. I can imagine how Soph, Lily and Stella will get more positive ideas after reading Simply Jesse.
Simply Jesse is published by Summit Publishing. It will be available by March 15 in National Book Store and other bookstores.
Aika started sharing letters her dad wrote. Pretty amazing. Here.