Dearest Jill — An open letter to Jill Robredo and colleagues in media

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. I also lost my younger sister 26 years ago but your letter brought back memories as if it happened just yesterday. She was very close to me and she died just 2 weeks after turning 18. I blamed myself and many others for what happened and even questioned and blamed God for taking away my very dear sister. It was Butch Robredo, Jesse’s brother, who was my boss back then who took me away from the wake of my sister to drink and console me and he said everything happened for a reason and made me accept that it wasn’t anybody’s fault. Jill thinks it was her fault and her swimming competition and probably other members of her family blame others. There will be a lot of questions, a lot of what ifs….he would still be here with his family. I myself asked why the aide did not try harder to find him inside the plane and save him before getting out and saving himself, but we were not there and did not know the whole situation. In the end we will have to accept that everything happened for a reason…for whatever reason, we may never know.

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  2. I feel you. I hope the family recovers well soon. This should be shared to all media people. Being part of the media myself, I know how people are crushed by the sheer hunger of… us. It’s saddening .

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  3. to kate,

    your writing could not have come at a better time, it’s evident that yours has a way of telling the truth without being flashy. your words are honest and “down to earth”. it speaks of both the human weakness and human strength. but more than that, you speak of the universal truth that resides within each one of the us – that of FAITH. you have a gift with words and i know that people have come to recognize you for that as well. i pray that you continue to share your gift with others, especially to those who may be doubting theirs when at their lowest. i have no doubt that this will find its way to jill regardless of.

    the last line in your entry made the most sense for me:

    “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.”

    i pray that i’m able to someday have the same kindness in words as you do.thank you for your words.

    God bless,
    john

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  4. Thank you for writing this letter to somehow ease the pain of a 13 year old girl. I fondly call her as Jillian. My eldest son Quaty is a good friend and a buddy of her when they were still in pre-school at The Village Montessori School, I remember her as the cute girl my son loves to be with, they even had a “gang” in school and at times we’re made to “sit in the corner” of the classroom because they kept on giggling at each other. To Jillian, I know your father loves you so much just as I know how you love him dearly…Godbless…

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  5. Tears rolled down my face as I read this beautiful letter. I hope that Jill, her sisters and her mom will also read your letter. Rest in peace Sec Jesse Robredo, a good man like you is forever be remembered.

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    1. Eumerix, blaming helps no one and serves no purpose. I hope you will find comfort in knowing that God never makes mistakes. Ingat and God bless.

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  6. Very well-written. I am appalled by how media has become so insensitive, especially in times like these, all in the guise of “informing the people”. I hope that the writers and other media personalities covering this story read your piece and learn from it. More power!

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  7. Thank you for writing this to Jill. When the media started using the reason for his taking a private plane as a key headline, I was worried for its effect on Jill. My prayers for her are answered by sensitive and kind hearted people like you.

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  8. Your piece says a lot and touches everyone’s heart..Thank you for sharing your entry..I know that Robredo’s family especially Jill will be glad to read this..I am positive that Sec. Jesse Robredo’s untimely demise has a great purpose, or I may say spiritual purpose, not only to his family but to the entire nation..Our creator would just want to unfold or unveil his message in this circumstance..As Ms. Kate said, we have to accept things by faith the we do not understand and obey the will of God^^

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  9. I went to sleep with a prayer hoping divers would find him already, alive or not. Sadly, I awoke to the news confirming his death. The courage I had in my heart has gone down after I saw pictures of his casket seemingly begging to go home. I got real emotional when the C130 plane carrying Robredo finally touched down Naga, my hometown too. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family/friends. You’re home now Sir Jesse. We will always be proud of you. Ikaw pa rin ang mayor namin. #SalamatJesse

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Kate. ☺ To Jill (and family), I know how proud you are of your Dad, and this I want you to know, we are very lucky we had an Interior Minister like Jesse, a man with not an ounce of arrogance in him. #RIPSecRobredo

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  10. “my prayer is that you navigate this part of your journey very well” — i liked this piece of advice Kate. Our life is a journey, a race with people behind us, on our sides, and ahead of us, cheering and lifting our spirits to navigate our journey very well. You are a natural encourager and cheerer, Kate. I praise God for impressing in your heart to comfort Sec Jesse’s daughter Jill, thriugh the literary gift HE has given you.

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  11. thank you for an inspiring and very touching letter mam. i was ,too , lost a father at an early age. and as what you said, no one can ever explain the pain of losing a father at such a young age…may God continuously blessed Jill and the rest of the family especially at this trying times.

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  12. thank you very much for the message you had imparted in this letter. true, the media sometimes (or most of the time) is insensitive of what their ‘victims’ would feel. grief, aside from disgrace and scandal, is one of the tools used to gain viewers. sad reality but i guess we’ll have to deal with these things more because times are changing where values are forgotten.

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  13. The news about the Secretary wanting to come home earlier to Naga than as orriginally scheduled has alreadY been corrected – the awarding ceremony where Jill would receive her award was done in the morning; Jesse took a flight in the afternoon. You are right – the Secretary wanted to be with his family, ALL OF THEM not only with Jill. Thanks for this letter to Jill

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  14. Thank you Kate for taking the time to write this and reaching out not only to the family but also to all of us…..you brought your concern a level higher….you DID something. It is a reminder to all of us that sympathy put into words is kindness in action. To Jill, everything that Kate wrote here echoes the very essence of what we would like to relay to you and your family as well. Remember, our lives are in God’s hands. You or anyone has no bearing on this. If it’s our time to be called home, then it’s time.

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  15. condolence to jills dad. i can say-don’t blame urself jill, bear on ur mind that is Gods plan. hopefully u can help recover this as soon as possible. everyone knows that ur dad is a good man.may God bless you for writing this and may the soul or Sec. Jesse Robredo rest in blessed peace..

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  16. a word is not enough to express what I felt after reading this inspiring message to Jill…. truly in this grief moment they need a space, a place and a time for a private moment at least!…..thanks Kate!…. God bless your heart!

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  17. This made me tear up at my work station. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts, Kate. I have the same sentiments for the Robredo family. Sir Jesse will surely be missed. Thank you Sir for your genuine service to the LGUs and most especially to the people of Naga, our homeland.

    By the way, I have shared this letter a few hours ago via my blog. (jclaridad.blogspot.com) My apologies if I didn’t ask for your permission first, so here I am but don’t worry I made sure you are given full credit. Thanks again, Kate! May God shower you more with wisdom and thoughts that inspire. Godspeed. :’)

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  18. This made me tear up at my work station. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts, Kate. I have the same sentiments for the Robredo family. Sir Jesse will surely be missed. Thank you Sir for your genuine service to the LGUs and most especially to the people of Naga, our homeland.

    By the way, I have shared this letter a few hours ago via my blog. (jclaridad.blogspot.com) My apologies if I didn’t ask for your permission first, so here I am but don’t worry I made sure you are given full credit. Thanks again, Kate! May God shower you more with wisdom and thoughts that inspire. Godspeed. :’)

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  19. I haven’t known him( Mr. Jess Robredo) personally, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about him.
    Though, still lots of speculations for his disappearance,we should always have a positive attitude. that they just somewhere out there waiting to be found, alive and safety!
    For you Jill, don’t bother listening for the negative write-ups, just keep praying he will be back in one piece with a smile and as a proud “Daddy”

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  20. Beautiful. I have read a couple of your posts and so far this is my favorite. I hope Jill reads this. She would need all our prayers and support in this truly trying time. God bless you, Kate. I hope you touch more lives with your heartfelt writing.

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  21. Very touching, very genuine kate. I hope Jill gets to read this. I imagine God saying to Sec Jesse, “well done my faithful servant, you have fulfilled your life’s mission”. He is in God’s loving arms now.

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