Friends, colleagues pay tribute to late Senate President Angara
By Jose Cielito Reganit
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Friends and colleagues took turns Wednesday to pay their tribute to the late Senate President Edgardo Angara during a necrological service held at the Senate Session Hall to honor the “great visionary, educator and legislator.”
Angara succumbed to heart attack last Sunday at the age of 83.
Former president Joseph Estrada said he joins Angara’s family and dearest friends in mourning the loss of “this great man” whom he described as a public servant of the highest integrity, a legislator with compassion, an intellectual with a heart for the poor, and an avid advocate for the cause of education.
“Ed was a great and lifelong believer of education as a tool to change lives. I admire Ed for many things pero higit pa dyan noon at ngayon, itinuturing kong isang karangalan na nakilala ko sya at naging kaibigan si Ed Angara (it’s an honor and privilege to have known and be friends with Ed Angara),” Estrada said in his eulogy.
“Salamat Ed. Salamat sa iyong pamanang dangal sa paglilingkod at sa pagmamahal sa bayan (Thank you Ed. Thank you for your legacy of honor in service and love for the country). You will be missed by all who knew you,” he added.
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Angara was a “giant among legal luminaries, an accomplished educator, and a skillful and principled public servant.”
Angara “wore many hats and he wore them well,” she said, adding that principled and strategic direction always guided his legislations.
“Dear Ed, the impact your principled work is larger than life on the old and the young, the students and the farmers, the economy and education. Rest in peace and thank you,” Arroyo said.
Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Angara’s “whole-hearted dedication to the cause of education emerges as his greatest contribution to the welfare of our people.”
“There, in the field of education, I submit, Ed’s track record as a public servant stands out over the heads of his peers,” he said.
Pimentel said he believed that the underlying message behind Angara’s legislations is that he wanted the Filipino people to realize that education is the key to upward mobility that will, inevitably, lead to the expansion of the horizon of anyone’s service and relevance to the nation.
“I guess Ed wanted 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,” he said.
“You focus on knowledge-sharing — that enables even the deprived sectors of our society to have the means to free themselves from the bondage of ignorance — has already defined your rightful place in the pages of our history,” Pimentel said.
Former Senator Rene Saguisag, meanwhile, related how Angara wrote in his autobiography that his life is “far from perfect.”
“It was characteristically self-deprecating. But it was a life well-lived,” Saguisag said.
He then offered excerpts from William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” also known as the “Immortality Ode” to honor his late colleague.
“What though the radiance which was once so bright; Be now for ever taken from my sight; Though nothing can bring back the hour; Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find; Strength in what remains behind,” Saguisag said.
Former Senator and now Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano said the country lost “a humble and dedicated statesman, a great teacher and a visionary.”
“The many ways he was known will live on through the work that we do and the many others that he has mentored in his life,” she said.
Senator Joel Villanueva described Angara as “a giant wave that ushered in genuine change.”
“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,” he said in his eulogy.
Villanueva thanked Angara for authoring the law that created the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) that has transformed the lives of many Filipinos.
“Tito Ed, you are the soul of TESDA and every TESDAn, every graduate whose life was transformed because of tech-voc, will remember and love you forever,” he said.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri remembered Angara as an “exceptional educator, a prolific and hardworking lawmaker, a true renaissance man, a cultural heritage protector and one of the country’s greatest statesman.”
Noting that Angara had held various posts during his public life, Zubiri said there is no doubt that “whatever post he had, he did so with distinction and exemplary performance.”
“He was, without a doubt, one of the most intelligent persons I have ever met and extreme honor to work with. Given the chance, he could have been one of the finest presidents our country could (have) had,” he said.
He also recalled how the late Senate leader mentored him on the finer points of the legislative process.
“He told me to focus on passing important pieces of legislation that would make the most impact for the country. Do not waste energy Migz, picking fights and engaging in endless investigations or dwelling on controversies. He always told me that Migz, the quality of legislation that you will sponsor and pass would be the one that would define you. That was the Ed Angara way,” Zubiri said.
Richard Gordon said Angara “defined himself by such a heuristic motion to uplift his fellowmen.”
“Ed Angara will be remembered for many things he has done for our country, and he 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,” Gordon said.
He also described Angara as a simple guy from Baler “who thinks that every Filipino must have a fighting chance to be what they could be.”
“He was quiet and yet he was substantial. He thought well, he had vision, a man who could see things far ahead, and saw a vision of a life better than what is today,” he said.
Senator Loren Legarda said it is not easy to eulogize a man so accomplished since “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.”
“Senator Angara’s dedication to his causes was unmatched, and I am honored to have been able to work with him on shared advocacies, particularly on education, agriculture, culture and heritage, and the environment,” she said.
“Ed was a statesman, embracing public service as a badge of honor. A visionary, he worked tirelessly so that national interest reigned paramount over parochial concerns,” Legarda said.
Angara’s passing marks the end of an era, but his legacy lives on, she said.
“We may have lost one of the Philippines’ most brilliant minds, but he left an indelible mark not only in this nation’s history but also in the life of every Filipino who has benefitted and will benefit from his life-long work as a public servant,” Legarda said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he has lost “a jewel of a friend — a man who had my highest respect and admiration.”
“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,” he fondly recalled.
Drilon said 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.
“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. While we would all prefer that he remained with us, Senator Ed Angara belongs to the ages now. And this is how I would like to envision our dear Edong now — in peace and at rest, but still strong and sure, and watching over us with a curious but satisfied grin. While all that we have left now are our fond memories, we can rest in the fact that his was a life well-lived,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said Angara was “architect and engineer of many of our social institutions, laying the foundations on which stand the pillars of the nation’s laws on health, education, social justice, culture and the arts.”
“He opened the doors of the classroom to all, knowing that a good education is the great equalizer of chances and opportunities,” Sotto said.
Like his colleagues who have also worked with Angara, Sotto extolled the late Senate President’s diplomacy in pushing for his advocacies.
“No eloquence nor oratorical prowess here today can match the speech delivered by the life well-lived by Senator Ed. His legacy is also his acronym: SEJA which stands for Senate dedicated to Education, Justice and Arts. Fare thee well SEJA: colleague, mentor, patriot, Fiilipino,” Sotto said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that describing Angara as productive would be an understatement.
“Ed’s output of laws is encyclopedic. And the records of this institution will bear me out that such is no exaggeration,” he said.
Recto said that not only are the laws passed by Angara numerous, they are also “meritorious,” so much do that they are valued as national assets.
While education was his banner advocacy, Recto said Angara was just as prolific, as proficient and as passionate in crafting laws aimed at helping the troubled and the distressed, or give hope to those with promise and potential.
“And the way Ed argued these, without being disagreeable, betrayed a first-rate mind that was neither constricted by partisanship, nor prone to propaganda,” he said.
Recto said this is another facet of Angara that is worth remembering and emulating — to respect divergence in beliefs, value the contribution of the opposition, and harness contrarian views in improving policy.”
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said the tribute given to Angara demonstrate with all sincerity how much they all treasured the memory of the character the spirit, and the legacy of the former Senate President.
He said Angara should serve as an inspiration to all those not born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth, “that success in what we have involve ourselves can be achieved through hard work, industry and study – coupled with a clear vision and the ability to form and work with a competent team.”
Pimentel said the younger generations of lawmakers should also get inspiration from Angara’s achievements.
“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,” he said.
Senator Sonny Angara thanked everyone who paid tribute to his father.
He said his father loved the Senate, loved its people and treasured the time the elder Angara spent in the Chamber.
“He called them the best years of his life and the relationships he formed and the bonds he formed with many of you here meant so much to him. He knew the important role the Senate played in the life of our nation and in improving peoples’ lives. Our father wore many hats and played many roles in his life as Sen. Migz said, a veritable renaissance man,” the younger Angara said.
He said there is not enough time to enumerate all that had been accomplished by his father.
“History and the history writers will take care of that. What we request is that all of you here remember our father fondly as a reformer, as an institution builder, as a builder of dreams, an enabler of dreams, and an enabler of people,” he said.
Angara said his father’s last day on earth typifies the dedication of the dedication of the elder Angara to his work, his friends and his colleagues.
“He was in a good place when he passed. Because as Senator Frank said, he spent his last night or his last day on earth with his co-workers, his partners and his dearest friends. And some of you are here today. So, salamat po sa inyo for sharing his life and as he said, the best years of his life,” he said. (PNA)