By Hannah Torregoza
Past and incumbent senators on Wednesday flocked to the Senate to pay their last respects to the late Senate President Edgardo Angara who died of heart attack Sunday, May 13.
Former Presidents Joseph Estrada now Manila City Mayor, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo now Pampanga representative, delivered eulogies for their former colleague in the Senate during the 8th, 9th, and 10th Congress.
“Thank you for your service and your love for the nation. You will be missed not only by me but also those who were touched by your generosity and commitment to serve,” Estrada said.
Macapagal-Arroyo commended Angara for crafting laws benefitting students, farmers and the poor. “He wore many hats, and he wore it well,” she said.
Arroyo shared her father, former President Diosdado Macapagal described the young Angara, then delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention “as one of the young public servants destined for a bright political future.”
Former Senator Pia Cayetano now Taguig City representative delivered a teary farewell to the late senator whom she said helped her fast track passage of laws on maternal and infant health, culture and heritage and education.
Cayetano recalled how Angara encouraged her to study Spanish and to strengthen and preserve the Philippine-Spanish heritage.
“We have lost a humble and dedicated statesman, a great teacher, my teacher..and visionary,” Cayetano said.
Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. likewise, said in the field of education, Angara’s track record as a public servant “stands out over the heads of his peers.”
“I will limit my inputs here, to only some of the laws into which Ed put his heart, soul, mind and spirit: the creation of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED); the organization of the Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA); the enactment of the Free High School Act, and the passage of the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GATSPE), which incidentally, is said to be the biggest scholarship program of the nation,” Pimentel pointed out.
“And what was the underlying message that Ed wanted our people to know about those knowledge-sharing espousals of his? I suggest that Ed wanted our people to realize that education is the ‘key to upward mobility’ that will, inevitably, lead to the expansion of the horizons of anyone’s service and relevance to the nation,” Pimentel stressed.
“I guess Ed wanted all our citizens – and especially the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized – to realize that to extricate themselves from the clutches of poverty – they must have access to and make use of education.”
“For once they are freed from the dehumanizing effects of that miserable degradation, they would also, then, be in a position to help others enjoy fuller lives befitting human beings,” Pimentel said.
Angara’s wife, Gloria, his children Alexandria Leia Angara, Katerina Gloria Lopez-Vito,
Anna Rosalyn Angara, and Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara were present at the necrological service. Angara’s grandchildren were also present.
Jewel of a friend
For Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, the late Sen. Angara was a “major influence” in his professional and political career.
“It was Ed who invited me to join ACCRA. He convinced me that since ACCRA was a new firm then, it would offer bigger opportunities for me. As Ed promised, working in ACCRA was indeed an excellent career move,” Drilon said.
“Ed’s passing came as a shock to me as I’m sure it did to most of us here today. When I first heard the news, it felt like the rug was pulled out from under my feet,” Drilon recalled. Drilon was with Angara in Tagaytay together with their friends and colleagues hours before the latter died on Sunday.
“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 well-lived. In his lifetime, he enriched many lives, including mine,” Drilon said in his eulogy.
Even at the ripe age of 83, Drilon said that Angara still had so many plans for his country, which led him to kid that he needed 100 more years and live up to 183 years old to ensure they all came to fruition.
“Ed was a jewel of a friend – a man who had my highest respect and admiration.We were not only fraternity brothers, we also worked together – from ACCRA to the Senate – and shared countless milestones,” he said.
“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,” said Drilon.
“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,” Drilon noted.
“Our country may have lost one of its brilliant minds and illustrious sons, but I am certain that Ed’s legacy is cradled in the bosom of a grateful nation,” he pointed out.
In a tearful eulogy for the former Senate chief, Senator Loren Legarda said Angara always maintained a connection with the people despite his sterling credentials.
“Maybe because even with all his achievements, he had always considered himself a ‘probinsiyano.’ He dearly loved his home province and its people, including the Dumagats, the indigenous people of Aurora,” Legarda enthused.
Angara had deep appreciation for the indigenous culture bearers that led him to create the National Living Treasures Award, a prestigious recognition for exceptional traditional Filipino artists,Legardasaid.
A true patron of the arts and a passionate cultural worker, Angara authored and sponsored laws creating the National Museum, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Cultural Heritage Law.
In addressing his colleagues, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged younger senators to look up to Angara “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,” Pimentel said.
“As Senate President, he was instrumental in the creation of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Committee or the LEDAC,” he added
“Senator Edgardo J. Angara’s life on Earth was never idle. With a definitive sense of purpose, this man serve his mission to end, wasting no time,” added Pimentel.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto hailed Angara’s “output of laws as encyclopedic. And the records of this institution will bear me out that such is no exaggeration.”
And while the rule in the Senate is to strut and prance before the public, Recto said Angara plodded on in silence, away from the camera lights of television.
“He never tallied ‘likes’, neither did he fuss over ‘shares’. He was more concerned with the fine print of the law than the size of headlines he never chased. If there was one thing he relentlessly pursued, it was a record of selfless service and a score of laws – unlike today, when the race is on who can post the most number of selfies,” Recto pointed out.