I KNOW it’s SOP to start an interview with pleasantries, but was it proper for broadcaster Karen Davila to greet the late Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s bereaved eldest daughter Aika, 24, “magandang
gabi?” Can the evening ever be good or beautiful to someone whose dad just died a few days ago from a plane crash? I’m not nitpicking or blaming Karen. It was probably a knee-jerk reaction on her part, but please be mindful naman of what you say on TV.
Even a seasoned journalist such as Ces Drilon had her share of awkward moments, Arturo, a Facebook friend, pointed out: “How about Ces’ response after Aika answered her question. Ces, in turn, asked “talaga” (really)? Then dead silence (no pun intended). I guess even the best of them gets dumbfounded sometimes.” They were obviously stretching the interview for what it’s worth.
Sofia, another Facebook friend, also found it odd that the show needed three interviewers to interview one person. Couldn’t Ces, who started the ball rolling, do and finish the interview alone?
In the US, you only have the likes of Christiane Amanpour and Walt Blitzer asking all the tough questions in their respective shows. But, then again, this is the Philippines, a land of so many people with limited opportunities, where everyone expects to get his or her moment to shine.
To her credit, Aika handled the interview quite well. Rather than look glum, she radiated a certain sense of calm and maturity unusual for a young person, who, I assume, had been worried sick the past three days, while her father’s fate remained one big question mark. She even managed to smile occasionally, as if assuring the three interviewers (including broadcaster Julius Babao) that, hey, “I’m okay.”
I’m amazed at how calm, brave and lucid Aika was through it all. She’s an ideal politician in the making, if I may say so, based on the innate charisma, confidence and courage she showed. She, however, dismissed any speculations that she herself might run in the future. “I’m not cut out for it,” she said in Filipino. “Perhaps my younger sisters are, but it’s difficult to speak for them.”
“Bandila’s” original “tabloidish” attack of asking those typical human-interest questions like pangitain (premonition), habilin (parting words) and what have you (again, asked by Karen) that Robredo might have supposedly left or said to his family days before he died didn’t work on Aika. Instead, she was matter-of-factly about it, refusing perhaps to let herself break down in public, with no small help from the show’s anchors, typical of the flow of news interviews in these parts.
Her most memorable lines, which I quote loosely, also came, she said, from her parents, “kung oras mo na, (eh) ‘di oras mo na'” (if it’s your time to go, then it’s your time to go). More than anything else, she and her family, she said, are heartened by the outpouring of support from people, not only from Naga, but from all over the Philippines, including messages of sympathy from blogs and social networking sites. Aika even said in Filipino without a hint of irony or sarcasm (again, I’m quoting loosely), “If dad were here today, he’d be glad, too. He must be looking down on us laughing at the attention we’re giving him now.”
Aika also assured the public that her youngest sister, Jillian, was taking their father’s death well. In so many words, she said that their youngest isn’t blaming herself for their dad’s death as earlier reported. In my mind, she appeared as if it was her comforting the public, and not the other way around.
Robredo was said to have skipped a commercial flight that would have taken him first to Manila en route to Naga, in favor of a chartered one from Cebu to get home directly. He wanted to come home early so he could take Jillian and the family out for a treat after the youngest placed third in a math contest.
As the “Bandila” team dissected the interview afterwards, marveling at how Aika handled herself in front of a live audience, the most memorable and logical reaction came, surprisingly, from Boy Abunda: “Having experienced a death in the family when my father died, you’re not the same everyday. Sometimes you’re okay, sometimes you’re not. It’s like your (emotions are) on a roller coaster.”
If Aika is a product of how Robredo and his wife Leni raised their three daughters, then they did a very fine job. Aika, you’re a portrait of courage, indeed. May the good Lord comfort you and give you and your family the strength and guidance you need to cope with the sadness and longing of being bereaved in the coming days, weeks and months ahead.