SEJA: Larger Than Life


COVER STORY

Former Senate President Edgardo Javier Angara has cast a giant shadow in his career as a government official and legislator, which spans more than three decades. The landmark laws he has authored on health, education, social justice, culture and the arts are a testament to this. He had inspired his peers—young and veteran senators alike—as a highly esteemed statesman. Here are excerpts of the eulogies of two past presidents he has worked with, and his former colleagues in the Senate


Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

When Ed returned to the Senate in 2001, he was there when I needed him for my legislative tests of political will, like the Anti-Money Laundering law which he authored. In turn, I supported his personal advocacies like the Philippines-Spanish Friendship Day Act of 2002 and the Senior Citizens Act of 2004. It was my honor to have him in my 2007 senatorial line-up. In 2008, he and his son Sonny gave us the Personal Equity and Retirement Account law or PERA. It was part of my economic agenda, but it also served Ed’s advocacy for the senior citizen retirees.

Dear Ed, the impact of your principled work is larger than life on the old, and the young, the student and the farmers the economy and education rest in peace and thank you.


Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada

I had high hopes for our team in the 1998 presidential election. Alam kong maasahan ko ang kanyang katapatan, talino, at galing, at maging ang kanyang hangarin na maiangat ang mga Pilipino mula sa kahirapan. Salamat Ed (I knew I could rely on his honesty, intelligence, and excellence, and even his desire to lift Filipinos from poverty. Thanks, Ed).

I admire Ed for many things. Pero higit pa diyan, noon at ngayon tinuturing kong napakalaking karangalan na nakilala ko siya at naging kaibigan….Salamat sa paglilingkod at pagmamahal sa bayan (But more than that, then and now, I consider it a great honor to have known him and to be his friend. Thank you for the service and love for country). You will be missed.


Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III

He was architect and engineer of many of our social institutions laying the foundations on which stand the pillars of the nation’s law on health, education, social justice, culture and the arts. He opened the doors to the classroom to all, knowing that a good education is the great equalizer of chances and opportunities.

He had a style on his own with his gentle moves and soft voice that turn belligerent opponents into long lost friends. He insinuated past events without us realizing that he was teaching history, Filipino soldiery, and the pride of place on Baler through a movie called Baler.

He took us back to the 300 years of Philippine-Spanish-Mexican commerce and relations through a book on the galleon and exhibiting even a replica. And he soothe frayed foreign nerve his innate diplomacy and modesty.

His instrument for justice was the law and his ACCRA law office was a veritable foundry shop of senators who wants worth for the law firm. No eloquence, no oratorical prowess here today can match the speech delivered by the life well-lived by Senator Ed.

His legacy is also his acronym—SEDJA which stands for Senate Dedicated to Education, Justice and Arts. Fare thee well, SEDJA, colleague mentor, patriot, Filipino.

We are comforted by the thought that for the many thing that you have left for the country, you have left us with an able proxy, Senator Sonny Angara, a worthy son of a worthy father.


Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

It is said that power generally overwhelms the better instincts of man. Not the Ed Angara I knew. Despite the enormous powers that he had access to or that he enjoyed especially during the early Martial Law years, he remained a person with balanced human perspectives. For instance, he had perks to savor. But, he tried to share them with others less privileged.

That said, aside from the enumerable things that Ed has done for his friends, acquaintances and supporters, his whole-hearted dedication to the cause of education emerges as his unique contribution to the welfare of our people.


Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III

Now let me address my colleagues in the Senate especially the younger ones, and there are many of them. More than half of the Senate is younger than me.

Senator Ed Angara’s achievements should inspire us in our works. We should all look up to him as a paragon of what a Senator of our Republic should be.

As a lawmaker, the laws he authored, sponsored or supported made a significant impact in the fields of education, health, social welfare, agriculture, good governance, energy, environment, and even cultural arts. Name it, and he had contributed to it.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara’s life on Earth was never idle. With a definitive sense of purpose, this man served his mission to the end, wasting no time. We will miss him but we will continue to be inspired by him.


Taguig Representative Pia Cayetano

To the Angara family, Flipinos grieve because we have lost a humble and dedicated statesman, a great teacher, my teacher, and a visionary.

My family, we grieve with you: My mom Sandy, my brother Alan and I spent much time with him, Ren, his grandson, and Lino, who my father named after him. My brother’s name is Lino Edgardo. But know this, EJA, SEJA, PEJA, and the many ways he was known, Uncle Ed to me will live on through the work we do.

“Call a politician productive and it would be dismissed as a hyperbole. But use it to describe Ed Angara and it comes off as an understatement”


Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto

Call a politician productive and it would be dismissed as a hyperbole. But use it to describe Ed Angara and it comes off as an understatement.

Ed’s output of laws is encyclopedic. And the records of this institution will bear me out that such is no exaggeration.

So much so that if the laws passed after EDSA 1 will be indexed by authorship, like the Bible, the Book of Edong will be the most voluminous.

Not only are these laws many; they are meritorious. Today, they are valued as national assets. Unfortunately for him, laws one had crafted cannot be reported as assets in one’s SALN, otherwise he would have been the richest senator in history. Ed was never a one-issue lawmaker, but a multidisciplinary one. And each of the laws that was polished to brilliance by his wisdom has been improving the lives of those who benefit from it.

Because of Ed, Filipinos are born to this world covered with medical insurance, and are sent off to eternal life with discounted services.

In between, they can be enrolled in free kindergarten, thanks to him. And high school became universal through a landmark law of his.

The laws on education he authored were so many that they require a separate catalogue. He passionately believed that any child, like the promdi from Baler that he was, can go as far and as fast in life as his education can take him.


Senator Franklin M. Drilon

Our friendship transcended political colors and affiliations, even if sometimes, we found ourselves opposing each other and sitting in opposite political fences. Once he even tried to depose me as Senate President. But, the friendship remained.

Leaders and politicians come and go. But only a few would leave deep footprints on the sands of time because of their enormous contribution to nation building and to the betterment of humanity.

Ed’s sterling accomplishments in the fields of politics, public service, law, and the academe cemented his niche in our nation’s life and history. The impact of the laws he authored, such as the Free High School Act, the Senior Citizen’s Act, PHILHEALTH Act and many more, will be deeply felt and appreciated by generations of Filipinos. His journey on earth was marked by his courage and determination to pursue his vision for our country, as well as his deep reservoir of ideas on how to uplift the lives of our countrymen.

I am privileged to have known him, to have laughed, walked and worked with him. It is not easy to bid him farewell, but I find comfort in the thought that his was a life welllived. In his lifetime, he enriched many lives, including mine.


Senator Richard J. Gordon

Ed Angara will be remembered for the many things he has done for our country—senior citizens, education, TESDA, everything you name it the man did it quietly. Not with force but with constant diplomacy, with a smile in his face, with peace in his heart, reaching out to everybody. And as he said, you don’t have to quarrel everybody, we will all be friends afterwards; that was why he was a perfect diplomat.

So when sometimes our President cusses and wrestles with all kinds of words, and Ed Angara is in Europe talking with the European Union, calling me ‘ikaw dito ako doon’ (you be here and I’m there); and I think the Ambassador of the EU was there to testify to that. I talk with the EU here, and Senator Angara talks to the EU and we talked together here and we tried to get the EU closer to us. Why? Because he thinks of his beloved Baler. He thinks of every Filipino must have a fighting chance—a chance to be what they could be. Just as Eddie Angara, a simple guy from the province of Baler, fully imbibed with history of President Quezon and his relations, wanted to make a future for the country, and pushing the future aside, to make sure to let him pass, to make sure we can get that wonderful day when the Filipino will stay proud and remain proud.


Former Senator Rene Saguisag

Long before his autobiography was launched, we had become fast friends with a deep, and abiding, long respect for each other, at times with different views on what was best for the mother land. So let me conclude by reminding you with this thought “the radiance that was once so bright, is now forever taken from our side; for nothing can bring back the hour of his splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; and grieve not, rather than find strength in what remains behind;” and in the years that bring philosophic mind.


Senator Joel Villanueva

Nakikiramay po tayo sa buong pamilya at angkan ng mga Angara, lalo na po kay Tita Gloria at sa ating kaibigan, kapatid at seatmate, Brod Sonny. May you find comfort and consolation in God’s promise: “To be absent from the body is to be present with God.”

Most of all, we mourn with every Filipino, as the country bids goodbye to a great leader, a statesman, a reformist, a giant wave of the Philippine Senate—the man who penned landmark laws and made a positive dent in the fabric of life of every Filipino and added rungs to the ladder of opportunity in our country.

Dahil po sa inyo, Tito Ed, tunay na “angara” ng buhay ng mga Pilipino.

Alam n’yo po, ilang beses rin akong nagkaroon ng pagkakataong panoorin ang malalaking alon ng dagat sa Sabang Beach ng Baler. Nakabibighani po ang mga alon lalo na kapag may mga nag-su-surf. Minsan din po akong naudyukan ni Tita Bella na sumubok mag-surf at sumampa sa ibabaw ng mga naglalakihang alon doon.

Lumikha po ng mga dambuhalang alon sa ating kasaysayan si dating Senate President Edgardo J. Angara o EDJA – mga along bumago at nagpayabong sa ating edukasyon, sining, agham at teknolohiya, governance, pamumuhunan, health at agrikutura.

Thank you, Tito Ed for the extraordinary things you did to usher in waves of change in this country.


Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri

How do I put into words to describe the life of an exceptional educator, a prolific and hardworking lawmaker, a true renaissance man, a cultural heritage protector and one of the country’s greatest statesman?

I know many of you here today would describe his different career paths as University of the Philippines (UP) President, a distinguished lawyer who founded one of the top law offices of the country, producing several political heavyweights such as Sen. Drilon, Sen. Gordon, the late Sen. Cayetano and Sen. Raul Roco, to name a few.

Many of us know him as former distinguished Senate President, Former Secretary of Agriculture, and most recently, as our country’s top diplomat, representing us at the European Union.

One thing for sure is that whatever post he held, he did so with distinction and with exemplary performance.

He was, without a doubt, one of the most intelligent persons I had ever met and had the extreme honor to work with. Given the chance, he could have been one of the finest presidents our country could have ever had.

“He could have been one of the finest presidents our country could have ever had”


Senator Loren Legarda

How do I even start honoring a man so accomplished on wide-ranging issues and advocacies? It seems there was no issue he did not know about. How do I choose the words to describe him and the life he lived? Even the best words would seem too humbling for someone so great.

It is not easy to eulogize, lest I miss out on so many accomplishments or even overshoot the time allotted to me, because there is just too much to say about a person whom I have known and become close to, both at work and on a personal basis. And so allow me to just read this prepared eulogy, although this in itself is just like “a speck in the universe” because no amount of words will suffice, no statement or article or eulogy can ever live up to the great man that he was or to the accomplishments of such life well lived.

June 2018 Health and Lifestyle

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