ImageMy dearest Jill —

I wear two hats as I write this letter — one, as a grief educator and counselor, and second as a child who lost her father at a very early age.

I lost my dad very suddenly when I was 16. I will not even dare say that I know how you feel because one child’s grief is always very different from another. We continue to pray that your dad will be found, that he is still alive somewhere, we hang on to that glimmer of hope.  We storm the heavens with our prayers, but as your older sister said, we also have to manage expectations. I believe your family is doing a wonderful job and I am glad to see you all being supported by family and friends at this very difficult time. The President himself, who knows all about grief many times over, together with key members of his cabinet love him dearly both as friend and colleague are exerting every effort to find him and the two pilots.

Jill, what I want to tell you for now is this — do not ever think for one moment that you caused your father’s accident. You did not. I know that media has not been very helpful over the last few days in the sense that they keep  using the headline that your dad was in a rush because he was on his way to you.  That is too much of a burden for a 13 year old to bear and I am truly sorry.  It is, as you say, unfair that they are singling you out. I suppose the intent is to show what a great dad Jessie was, however,  in doing so, and perhaps in the rush to produce a story, your feelings were not considered.

The truth is that your father was on his way home because he wanted to be with all of you for the long week-end, because you, your sisters, and your mother were the most important people in his life. That is what you need to believe and keep in your heart.

It’s a very difficult, sad and confusing time and all the glare from the cameras invading your private space does not help at all. The support of people who truly love you and care for your father and your family is a good thing to be surrounded with at this time. Everything and everyone else is a different story.

Let me tell you about another young girl whose father went missing when she was 10. He was in the same plane with President Ramon Magsaysay, and he was also coming in from Cebu, on his way home to return to his family, just as your dad was because it was a week-end. He was supposed to take a boat, but instead their party decided on taking the plane so that they could get back to their families earlier. Very early on a Sunday morning, his plane slammed into a mountain and it took a while before they found him. My friend, Paulynn remembers the day, like it were yesterday, and recalls in vivid detail how in the midst of all the chaos and phone calls, and all the people coming into their house (this was in 1957) she felt “so invisible.” Ironically, her father’s name was Jess too and he was a part of the Magsaysay cabinet. So many similarities. And although their grief is now 55 years old, the circumstances of your dad’s accident has brought back all the memories and emotions of that day. Jill, there are days we will remember all our lives, days that change us, and shape us into the people we eventually become. This week-end, however it turns out, will be life-changing for you and your sisters and that is why my prayer is that you navigate this part of your journey very well.

My friend was more fortunate in the sense that in 1957, media did not have any access to them. The adults took care of everything, and all the children were protected from the news reporters that swarmed their  home and that of the others who perished in the crash. Today is has become so much harder to find that personal space because grief is sensationalized and made public no matter the emotional cost to those who are in pain.

You are only 13,  and I feel terrible how people seem to keep forgetting this fact when they speculate and report about the events surrounding the plane crash. When they show photographs of you and your sisters with your faces buried in your hands, when they upload photographs of you sobbing into the arms of your classmates and teachers who have come to bring you comfort. These visuals do not help at all and only show a lack of respect for your private pain.

I was in awe of your sister’s amazing grace as she spoke to the press today, and I marvel at your mother’s composure at such a distressing time.

It’s apparent that you have two great parents and I have no doubt that you and your sisters all make your father proud. I know that Jesse is a great public servant, a kind and compassionate man to everyone whose lives he touched both in the public and private sector. His heart is pure and imbued only with the desire to serve honestly to the best of his ability. However, even more important to me is that he is exemplary as a dad — hands-on and always present for all the moments that matter. You are all so very blessed to have that, you have many memories to draw from whenever you think of him. You know in your heart that he has always put you, your sisters, and your mother above all else. And this is why after the course of his duties last Saturday, he was coming home to all of you, where else would he go?

The next few days will become longer and even more difficult, and I pray that my colleagues in media will allow you children the private space to be just that — children. To allow you the private space to deal with what needs to be dealt with by yourselves, away from the public glare and only in the presence of family and trusted friends.

Your dad is so well-loved by everyone, including members of the media with whom he had a bond and a very good relationship with.  In this time of crisis and ambiguous loss, in spite of the pressure to produce a story, I am hoping that they will take pause, and remember the kind of man your father was to them. The best way that they can return the favor to him, would be by allowing his family, and according you, his children, the respect, kindness and privacy that you will all be needing at this very difficult time.

There are no waters too deep where God’s love is not deeper still. And so we continue to pray unceasingly and wait dear Jill, and keep in our hearts that no matter what happens God is with us always in the waiting and that He will see us through.

146 thoughts on “Dearest Jill — An open letter to Jill Robredo and colleagues in media

    1. A nicely written open letter that really touched my soul…whoever you are Kate, I salute you…To Jill Robredo, read through and hopefully, this open letter will ease your pain a little bit coz I know how it feels to lose a father at your age, coz I lost mine when I was 13 years old too… But I know you will definitely survive everything that will come your way, not only becoz you have a mother to support you all the way, but you had a father like your dad…

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  1. Beautiful. Feelings perfectly put into words that would surely bring comfort to the family esp Jill. I hope that tiny glimmer of hope would be lit with God’s love as we storm heaven with prayers.

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  2. this letter is very true . . . I have only one chance to see Sec. Robredo in personal, but nevertheless I know for a very long time that he is a good person and a true public servant … let´s continue praying for him ..

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  3. thank you for writing this. i was just telling my husband how worried i am about how Sec Jess’ daughter must feel hearing all these news reports on why he was rushing home. i hope Jill, her sisters and Leni do get to read this. i’m still praying and hoping that Sec Jess will too. again, thank you.

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  4. Reblogged this on Cerebral Insights and commented:
    Indeed, sometimes the media tends to forget that in the middle of looking for a good story to tell, there are emotions to consider. I feel for the grief of the family. I cannot begin to imagine the stress this is taking on them – the fact that everything right now is so uncertain. Yet they carry on with so much grace and composure. I admire them. I have been to their place and saw what a mayhem it was – with so many people milling about – most offering prayers or reminiscing their moments with Sec. Jesse. Yet also, there are too many media personnel – and cordial as the family is, they welcome them. Yet I hope respect will be accorded to the family as well.

    Right now, all we can do is submit to God’s diving mercy and trust in His love and grace.

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  5. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, the only thing we could really do right now… Let’s hope Sec. Jesse Robredo doesn’t suffer the same faith as Mr. Jess in the story. Miracles can happen even if there’s a very slight chance that Sec. Robredo can survive the crash. We still believe…

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  6. Thank you kate for this letter. It would surely at least lessen the pain of Sec. Jess’ daughter. It will also remind us that no job can ever replace a family. It is always about the love for the family.

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  7. Cathy, I hope this piece find its way to Jill.

    Jill, I first saw you in Naga Sports Complex. Your dad was image of an eager beaver as he personally saw to it that you would get the best training so you would grow to be an excellent competitive swimmer. His body slouched at the edge of the pool, his eyes traveled in rhythm with your body as it sliced its way to the blue waters.

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  8. I am back to crying bucket of tears. I am far away from home, my father lies in a hospital bed (a first in our family) with diagnosis still uncertain or should I say diagnosis had been kept hidden from me. I am bound to go home soon but not soon enough. I feel so helpless, it may not be related but I guess its the same, comforting thoughts to a hurting daughter thank you for this piece. And I’m sorry for telling a bit of my story, but anyway, THANK YOU!

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    1. It’s all right, Cyd. I’m glad the letter helped you. I pray your father gets better. Safe journey home. God bless.

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  9. You are right…. It’s not the event of Jillian that caused his death… its the love of Sec. Jesse M. Robredo to his family. He really wants to spend every spare time with them knowing that when he is back in Manila he’ll miss Atty. Leni and Jillian who are left behind here in Naga City.

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  10. A very touching letter. You are right in saying that one child’s grief is always very different from another. I, myself experience the lost of my father due to old age and sudden death of my brother in a span of 2 years.We may feel the same loss but our grief differs from one another.

    I have known Jillian as a child when i was working in a tutorial center back in naga city. She was active and full of life. I hope and pray that in this difficult time that jillian and her family will find strength and courage to get through this.

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  11. exactly my sentiments. especially when i heard a news that Jill seems to be blaming herself already….
    I shared your blog in facebook and twitter maybe some people would learn something. thank you for writing this.

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  12. I hope she gets to read this. From the beginning I just found it bothering how the media kept on saying that the Sec was forced to take the private plane over his cebu pac flight just so he could attend Jill’s awarding. I guess they could have taken a different approach about it because I am worried that somehow, Jill would end up blaming herself.

    I know that no words could take away their emotions but it is my hope that their family could find some sort of comfort that their nation is one in storming heaven and earth with prayers for their father to find his way back to them.

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    1. Thank you, Fur. I was worried about that from day one. Yes, may our prayers help everyone involved find the courage that they need.

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  13. Thank you, thank you for this. I have known Sir Jess only from a distance – through other people. Yet, I am confident that he too would have said your words and showed your concern for a family in this most extremely difficult time. For he was kind as well as wise – even from the distance I knew him from.

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  14. I was busy this past weekend and only got bits and pieces of news from twitter. Your article is the first I read that brought me to tears. Decided to then watch news clips and read articles, made me cry even more. I am deeply affected by what happened to him. As one of the devotees of INA, we fervently pray that he will be saved.

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  15. My father passed away when I was only 12 years old during a company field trip. I blamed myself for his death for many years until I went through an 8-day retreat as a senior in college. Thank you for writing this letter to children like Jill. Hopefully her dad will be found soon.

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Dona. Sometimes the burden adults unnecessarily, and I want to believe, unknowingly, is too much for a child to bear. Blaming serves no one and I’m glad you have healed. Continue to do well.

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  16. Good job Kate! This article has wonderfully expressed the empathy to someone/ a family member in a situation like this. I share the same sentiments. I pray for Jill, Mayor Robredo (allow me to call him mayor since I am used to it) and his family.

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  17. Thank you for this letter. Although it is directed to Sec. Robredo’s daughter, I felt a deep sense of sentiment over your words. Tito Jesse is like a father to all of us Bicolanos. It is especially true for our family, as he is my father’s good friend. When my dad died, he was also there to console us. Words like these continue to strengthen us. We will never lose sight of hoping that he is still out there, waiting to be seen and brought back safe to us.

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  18. You made me feel guilty because I too carelessly told a friend that Sec Jesse was rushing home last Saturday afternoon because Jill did well in the city swimming meet earlier that day — totally unmindful of her feelings as a child. I guess that’s the problems with adults; as a father myself, relating to Sec Jesse’s instincts was the easiest thing in the world. I’m sorry, and thank you for clarifying the complexity of the situation.

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  19. very well said…I thank you for wrting this letter.. I hope others may read this and become more sensitive towards the grieving family of Sec. Robredo.. still prayers are with them. God bless your good heart kate. More power

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  20. i cried after reading your article. sec.jess was a father to all naguenos. malaki ang utang na loob ko kay sec. jess kasi sya ang tumulong sa akin para makatapos ako ng college. he is a wonderful man. a true example of a real nagueno.

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  21. Reblogged this on sjanima and commented:
    I felt the pain of the child and recalled how my own child felt the same way. Praying for miracles and safety of Jess Robredo and the pilots.

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  22. You letter is very touching and certainly gives much comfort to Jill, her family and those who grieve on the uncertainties over Secretary Jess. Yes, the media seems to have lost the sensitivity to respect the grief of others, be it of celebrities or ordinary people. The privacy of emotions or sentiments should not be violated even in the name of public information. They should know that the public don’t want these incursions.

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  23. This piece brought tears to my eyes – it reminded me of my father who passed away more than 7 years ago. I hope Jill gets to read this so she’ll be assured that it’s not her fault. Thanks for sharing!

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  24. You have touched our soul with your blog. I have shared this in my wall in fb. As of this time, Sec. Robredo’s body was recovered. Sad morning. I hope the Robredo family can cope with this life’s tragedy. God will comfort them.

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  25. So timely now that it’s just been confirmed by Sec. Roxas that Sec. Robredo’s body was found… take heart dear Jill! thanks for this beautiful piece… I’m still crying while typing this message!

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  26. So touching. I hope Jill could read this one of these days (earlier the better.) As young and smart as she is, I know she can’t help but blame herself for what happened to her father. But I hope she’ll realize that no one’s to be blamed here. Though I really feel so sad about Sec, very sad, but I know this is God’s will. I’ll be praying for the eternal repose of the soul of Sec. Robredo, and I’ll be praying for the family, too. God bless!

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  27. Beautifully written and so comforting for someone like Jill who I also hope would be able to read this. Her father was a good man whose public service is a sterling example in this chaotic time of Phil. politics. God bless you for writing this and may the soul or Sec. Jesse Robredo rest in blissful peace. .

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  28. I hope your letter reaches the Robredo family — and the media. It is very careless of reporters to have said those things. Words are very powerful. They could either bring down or bring life to the spirit. Again, I wish that our media could be more responsible. Thank you for this letter.

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  29. A tribute to brother Jesse Robredo
    Unknown to many, the late DILG Secretary was a member of the Alpha Phi Omega, the same international organization to which Vice Pres. Jejomar Binay, US Pres. BILL Clinton and several other globally known personalities belong. I am not as great as the people mentioned yet I am proud to say I am a member.
    During my stint as spokesman of ARMM bureaucracy, I had fought for legitimacy of issues being floated then for the Aquino government to postpone the 2012 elections to 2013 and authorize the President to name OICs. My enthusiasm was intense that I had grilled in many interviews my brother Jesse Robredo. I realized later that he was a great man and good friend for the people of ARMM and Mindanao. Despite my brutal lines of questioning, he had answered profes
    sionally with remarks I also included in pertinent stories.
    I will miss brother Jesse. I condole with his family, especially his daughter Jill, 13, who must have felt so sorrowful in the wake of media reportage that her father was rushing home as to foregoing his confirmed flight through a bigger commercial plane and opting for the four-seat aircraft that crashed off Masbate Saturday.
    I agreed with the posting (an open letter to Jill and the media) shared by my friend Bruce Matabalao that Jill should not fell sorry about the story because what must have been depicted in the media reports about her dad rushing home was his being a great dad with great feeling for a daughter and his family.
    We will miss you brother Jesse! May God reward you for your goodness with a place in Heaven. Ameen. (Ali G. Macabalang, a senior Manila Bulletin correspondent & active APO alumni member)

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  30. how i wish all the media people will have a piece of your heart…. very well said and heartwarming though i could hold back my tears…. it brings me back to the time i lost someone very dear….thanks for sharing….

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  31. sana nga mabasa nila ang ginawa mo. nakakalungkot talaga at tama ka din, maybe the adult ones just wanted to say who good pogi is. at mabasa ko iyong mga articles about the reason for coming to naga. nagtrigger na agad iyong alarma ko sa utak. mali at mataas ang porsyento na may impact ito sa kay jill. sana maovercome nya agad ito. and definetely your article will help one way or another. si pogi as we commonly called him in naga. is a family friend. my brothers, and my late father continuously join and work for a great cause they all believe in. ang laking kawalan pero kailangang tangapin na babalik na si pogi sa naga at ang mga magagandang alaala. na lang ang iisipin natin sa kanya. DIOS MABALOS.

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  32. Dearest Kate,

    I hope what you’ve written may in a way console Jill.Just like Jill, we are saddened by the lost of a very good leader both as a family man and as a public servant. Thank you so much for writing this letter for Jill’s sake.

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