Press Release
May 16, 2018

Eulogy for former Senate President Edgardo J. Angara
By 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.

His "Ang gara ng kinabukasan kung may pinag-aralan" was not just his campaign slogan; it was his fighting faith which became the nation's mission.

I once joked to him that not one of the laws he had authored is immune to change, but this timeless slogan he had coined will never be repealed.

He also turned this chamber into a classroom. The time he spent here became a teaching moment, not only for the country, but more so for his colleagues, because in the absence of a school for lawmaking, the next best thing were the free tutorials which he generously imparted whenever he was speaking on the floor.

While education was his banner advocacy, he 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.

One day he can be discussing banking terms in boardroom-speak and the next day he can be explaining fertilizer formula in the lingua franca of the magsasaka.

One minute he will be fielding questions on pensions with the skill of an actuarian and the next hour he will be lecturing on the Spanish rule like a tenured historian.

He can dissect the fine print of the law he had read up with the same ease that he can describe the brush strokes of the art he owned.

Yet he was able to amass a trove of laws, and thrive in policymaking, in a manner that seems to violate every canon in today's playbook of politics.

He was a workhorse in a stable - in a Senate - of showhorses. Where the rule is to strut and prance before the public, he plodded on in silence, away from TV camera lights.

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. Polite and courteous, he fought great causes - without having to utter a single curse in public as he saw no need to punctuate the point he was making with coarseness.

At a time when speeches are measured by loudness, not logic, he spoke calmly and ditched oratory. In fact, his spiels bordered on the bland, but what he lacked in bombast, he made up through powerful arguments which were impossible to ignore.

At a time when trolls force politicians to merely say what everybody believes, but in a loud voice, he had the courage to defy the wisdom of the crowd with views which may not be popular but right.

At a time when debates are viewed as a chance to simply parade the supremacy of one's position, he, on the other hand, genuinely saw them as an opportunity to enrich the end product through a discussion that generates light than heat.

At a time when winner-take-all seems to be the norm, he conceded when he was wrong and sought consensus to break stalemates, for he believed that progress was a product of give-and-take. He knew when to stand ground and when to seek common ground.

And that is what the nation will miss about Ed the most, the man at the center, because only those who seek the middle ground will be able to operate the fulcrum that moves things, balances interests and prevents deadlock, as what he had masterfully done.

There is another facet of the man worth remembering and emulating, and that is to respect divergence in beliefs, value the contribution of the opposition, and harness contrarian views in improving policy.

My dear friends:

Since he ended his quarter-of-a-century of hard labor in this chamber five years ago, I would still bump into him in different places, and every time we meet, I would tease him as the Elder Angara, and refer to his son, Sonny, as the Better Angara.

And like a homeroom teacher, I would proceed to dutifully report to him how the Better Angara had been faring great in his old haunts, and hearing this he would, without fail, break into a smile, followed by a glint in his eye that could only mean fatherly pride.

And perhaps in his ledger of life's work, having raised children who can better your best is an accomplishment greater than leaving a world that is better than when you have found it.

Seated here, ladies and gentlemen, are Ed's children and apos whom he and Gloria raised well, and who have become his grandest achievement, as well as his greatest source of joy.

Godspeed, Ed. You have fought the good fight. Rest well, and we would know that you have been taken into God's good graces if one day we will receive a communique from heaven that the 10 Commandments have been amended to become 20, for such can only be a handiwork of yours.

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