UP Manila Pays Tribute to SEJA
The UP Manila community honored the life and work of former UP President and Senate President Edgardo J. Angara in a tribute held at the UP Manila Museum of a History of Ideas on July 18, 2018.
Senator Edgardo Javier Angara (SEJA) was the 16th president of the Senate of the Philippines and 15th president of the University of the Philippines. He passed away in the morning of May 13, 2018 due to an apparent heart attack at age 83.
Among his legislative milestones were the Free High School Act, Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the National Health Insurance Act, Senior Citizens Act, the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), the Renewable Energy Act, and the Procurement Reform Act. He also authored the laws creating the National Museum and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), among others.
In 1981, SEJA received the Most-Distinguished Alumnus Award from UP and the Highest Professional Award from the UP College of Law.
SEJA’s widow, Mrs. Gloria Manalang-Angara, sat in the front row with other dignitaries including her son, Senator Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara, UP Vice President for Public Affairs Jose ‘Butch’ Dalisay, Jr., Chancellor Carmencita Padilla, National Scientist Ernesto Domingo, PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi, PhilHealth President Dr. Roy Ferrer and Director Dr. Anthony Leachon, Dr. Zorayda Leopando, Dr. Leo Cubillan, Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, and Dr. Rosel Doval Santos.
Known for his advocacies in health, education, economy, and agriculture, the stories shared during the tribute for the late statesman described his contributions to and engagements with UP Manila during the past decades.
On behalf of UP President Danilo Concepcion, VP Butch Dalisay cited all the initiatives and accomplishments of the late senator commenting that “I could go on and on, but you get the idea. This was a man who gave his best to the Filipino people. And by honoring him today, we honor the kind of public servant he exemplified – honest, diligent, intelligent, and people-centered. We will miss him and his time.”
SEJA also fashioned the law that gave life to PhilHealth. In his testimony, PhilHealth President and CEO Dr. Roy Ferrer thanked SEJA for the impactful program it has become. “It is your [SEJA’s] legacy and we will make it prosper just as you envisioned it to be.”
Former UP Manila Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development Dr. Zorayda Leopando represented former Chancellor Dr. Ramon Arcadio. She stated in her message that “Visiting Baler several times and seeing the developments, I said, how fortunate the people of Aurora are. They have a son who loves his people very much that is SEJA. How I wish all the provinces will have a SEJA.”
Dr. Leo Cubillan shared how the late senator helped in preserving the historical beginnings of the University of the Philippines. Dr. Cubillan is the current director of the Philippine Eye Research Institute and a member of the committee tasked to plan and oversee the setting up of the UP Museum of a History of Ideas. “I would like to thank SEJA and his family for his contributions to this museum are felt by the university and the community by preserving its historical beginnings. This will continue to educate our students, faculty, and public about a history of ideas and its role in transforming history.”
PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, who had a personal relationship with the late senator, was a personal witness of how SEJA diligently followed up on his patients to make sure they are given proper attention. “I am witness to the numerous patients he has personally endorsed and assisted; may it be a farmer in Baler needing a brain surgery, or a medical emergency of a teacher from Quezon, or the more common ones who are the staff of the Congress and Senate.”
Dr. Legaspi projected the last text message he received from SEJA reflecting his concern to a Mr. Walter Clemente, a messenger and victim of a motorcycle accident. “It is heartwarming to know that a very busy person like SEJA could have gotten down to the details of all his patients,” said Dr. Legaspi.
The message continued where SEJA said he would call Dr. Legaspi regarding family medicine and the plan on having a PGH in New Clark City. Dr. Legaspi added, “One text showed the multi-facets of this great man who not only achieved what was mentioned earlier but made sure they were used as tools of hope for Filipinos.”
Chancellor Carmencita Padilla recalled her many encounters with the late senator and acknowledged SEJA’s efforts to make science and technology a priority in the country. “Although he was not a scientist, he knew as a legislator that he could do something to make sure that science becomes important for the country. He was a man who was born ahead of his time and UP Manila will forever be indebted to his contributions to us, to the whole of the Filipino community. We will continue to be his instrument.”
The Chancellor proclaimed, “For being the father of health legislation, champion of education reforms, and patron of Philippine arts and culture, maraming salamat, SEJA!”
Dr. Rosel Doval Santos gave a rather lively testimonial. For him, SEJA was like a second father and a mentor. He told the story of his moments with SEJA mimicking the way his mentor talked. Dr. Santos remembered how SEJA pushed his children to be the best that they can be and the trips and projects they worked on together. “In the end, it is all about work even at the time that he got a spinal problem,” Dr. Santos explained. He also projected their final exchange of text messages that read: ‘I will tell Sonny na tulungan niya ang PhilHealth. Hindi puwedeng papatay-patay tayo dyan eh, naghihirap ang taong bayan.’ Dr. Santos added, “This is the miracle of Ed Angara. He loved his country and we love him.”
The equally accomplished lawmaker, Senator Sonny Angara, gave the response on behalf of the family. In response to the accomplishments mentioned in all the testimonials delivered, the senator’s son admitted that SEJA really was tough task-master. “Kahit wala pa ‘yung pera basta you have the idea, the money will come later. Ganun ‘yung tatay ko. The lesson is to never stop dreaming, never stop doing, and never stop helping our people.”
Senator Sonny capped his message saying, “Nagpapasalamat po kami ng taos-puso. We are very grateful to all of you. Today is a day to celebrate a great life, a great work, and I thank you for being a part of my father’s life at some point for sharing his vision.”
ANNE MARIE ALTO