EXCLUSIVE: The Last True Statesman: Anna Angara On The Legacy Of Her Dad, Former Senate President Edgardo Angara
May 13, 2018 marked the passing of former Senator Edgardo Javier Edong Angara. He was 83.
Today, we honor him as the Senator who authored laws that profoundly affect our every day lives—laws that we enjoy but take for granted as we do our daily routines like sending our kids to school, going to restaurants, and taking care of our elderly family members.
As you’re scrolling along to read this, you’re actually enjoying more of Angara’s handiwork.
For active internet and social media users, he made sure that we could safely interact and transact online via his Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Data Privacy Act. And that’s just one of the more recent laws that he authored.
He definitely had the last laugh. Thank you to everyone who has expressed sympathy for our family these past two weeks. Your prayers and words of condolence were much appreciated during a very difficult time. For those that were fortunate to have known my father personally, you share in our family’s grief but we are all blessed to have had him touch our lives in many significant ways. We can take comfort in knowing that his legacy lives on. #salamatsenangara
Throughout his years in office from 1987 onwards, the laws that he actively advocated included health, educational reform, arts and culture, science, technology innovation, agriculture, financial reforms, research on good national governance, social welfare, and people’s right to education.
So effective were his laws on education and social services that Senator Pia Cayetano hailed them as being the very foundation of education in our country today.
Heir apparent to his political legacy is his son Senator Sonny Angara, who pointed out their shared philosophy that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty, and is the great socioeconomic equalizer. If you’ve got kids in school, no doubt they’re reaping the benefits of Angara’s policies on providing quality education from both private and public institutions.
My dad served in the Philippine Senate for 24 years, the longest serving senator. This photo was taken during his first campaign in 1987 & his slogan was “Ang gara ng kinabukasan kung may pinagaralan”, as his main platform at that time was education. In the Senate’s tribute to my dad, they quoted him as saying, in describing his lifelong dream of uplifting his countrymen’s lives through the laws he authored, he was “giving every Filipino a fighting chance...” Thus the Free High School Act, the act which established PhilHealth, & the Senior Citizens Act, to name but a few. According to former Senate President Jovito Salonga, my father was the legislator’s legislator. #salamatsenangara
Those who aspire to work in sectors such as agriculture, automotive, electronics, entrepreneurship, health care, information and communication technology, maritime, and tourism are able to level up their skills, thanks to Angara’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Via Senator Angara’s Senior Citizens Act, our older loved ones enjoy benefits such as substantial discounts when they need medicine or take public transport.
Former Senator Angara is also fondly remembered for contributions like the Renewable Energy Act, the Procurement Reform Act, the National Health Insurance Act from which Philhealth was implemented, and the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), which ultimately aimed to provide local farmers and fishermen with better and more sustainable means of increasing their revenue from their trade.
His was a career that spanned long decades in public service, in various fields we Filipinos needed the most support and help with. He seemed to have an inherent sense of the fissures in our society, and he made it his mission to mend them, one field at a time.
As expected, because of all his accomplishments and effective laws, former Senator Angara’s Senate leadership has received one of the most outstanding ratings in the Social Weather Station’s survey. While the younger Angara continues his legacy, pushing for laws that add to the scope of his father’s policies, we remain hopeful in the future of the Filipino. He was one of our last true statesmen, and we hope his legacy continues far into our country’s future.
This Father's Day, Metro.Style gives tribute to former Senator Angara by reliving his memories and getting to know another side of him as a loving, playful and affectionate father. In this exclusive Q&A, his daughter, Anna, whom he also got to work with in the Senate, shares her fondest memories with him, the lessons she learned from him, and the one thing she regrets not telling him before he passed.
What are your best childhood memories with your dad?
Pretend camping with him in our vacation house in Nasugbu, Batangas. I say "pretend" as we didn’t really sleep in the tent, we pitched it but went back to the house at night. We even had army rations, which I don’t remember eating. But I remember my dad was armed with a bolo to cut the overgrown grass or talahib on the property around our “camp site.” Also, I remember visiting him often in his ACCRA law office and playing with the decorative objects on his desk and going from floor to floor, visiting the various departments, saying hello to the staff.
What was it like being the child of Senator Ed Angara?
When he first became senator, I had just graduated from high school and I left shortly after to pursue studies in the UK, where I stayed for five years. So I didn’t really experience public scrutiny or exposure during his first term in the Senate. I did work for him in the Senate for a bit and that’s where I was exposed to his work, travelled all over the country and met a lot of people from different walks of life.
How was Senator Angara as a father to you as a child, the teenager? You the adult?
As a child, he was playful and affectionate with us. As he was busy with work during the week, he would look forward to going to Batangas with us during the weekends where it was usually a light and fun experience spent outdoors, by the beach. As a teenager up to adulthood, he supported our interests in school and beyond. My siblings and I all studied in the UK as he believed in its educational system/institutions.
What are the three biggest lessons you learned from your father?
1) Solid work ethic, he showed by example that you need to work hard to achieve your dreams; 2) the value of education and the need to excel in whatever you set out to do; and 3) time management and efficiency in all tasks.
What are the 3 best times you spent with him? 1) When the whole family was together, especially when we would travel out of the country. Locally, he especially enjoyed being in Baler or Nasugbu when we were younger as he was relaxed, enjoying the fresh air and taking long walks around his properties; 2) when I worked for him in the Senate. Although it was brief, I got an up close and personal look, and experienced firsthand how he worked as a legislator; and 3) when we would travel abroad together for his work, whether it was Cambodia, Canada or lately to Mexico for his recent passion project for the Galleon museum. When I would accompany him to the US, I would pack at least five balikbayan boxes each time as he was a shopper, especially of books.
What were his strengths?
He was a visionary, whether as a lawyer, a UP president or a senator; He was a mentor at heart, whether with his family, colleagues or staff. He was a hard worker and set the bar high for his family, colleagues and staff. He was a patriot, he loved his hometown and he loved his country, as is evident by how much his province has flourished with his guidance and support, and through the legislation he authored which has forever changed our countrymen’s lives for the better.
What did you most admire about him?
For all the strengths I mentioned above, for all his accomplishments as a public servant, and for his love of family. We never wanted for anything growing up and he would still continue being supportive of us even as adults. He was a good brother to his nine siblings, equally generous to all of them.
In what ways are you most like your father?
In my dad’s biography, my mom was quoted as saying that she thinks I’m most like my father, “and that’s why they clash, because they are too much alike. The other children are a combination.” I’d like to see that comparison in a positive light, but she was probably referring to our both being strong-willed and stubborn. Personally, I feel that I am most like him when he has exhibited his loyalty to his friends and to certain causes.
What will you miss the most about him?
Just his presence; the fact that he’ll no longer be a phone call or a visit away if I needed to talk to him or ask for his always sound advice.
One week after my dad’s passing, just starting to take in the past week’s outpouring of tributes and love for this great man. Last Friday he was honored by his beloved alma mater the University of the Philippines, where he spent a total of 12 years, first in the College of Law, then as UP president. His time here certainly paved the way for his many years in the Senate where he crafted some of the most visionary legislation. His biography, one of three, penned by Butch Dalisay is entitled In The Grand Manner. #salamatsenangara #legacy
What do you regret not doing or not saying before he passed?
When my dad had just passed away, my mom told me to not have any regrets as my dad wouldn’t have wanted that; but I still regret not going to Tagaytay that weekend he passed, as he had invited the family to join him along with the founding partners and lawyer friends from ACCRA. But most of all, I regret that I never got to tell him how much I appreciated what he’s done for our family and country.
How do you want him remembered?
For his amazing legacy as a legislator and as a mentor to his children, his family, his colleagues and staff.
Produced by Chris N. Lopez
Intro article by Carmela Fernando
Edited by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photos from @sonnyangara @aangara @tootsyangara