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5/22/2018 7:22:28 AM

Article in The Daily Tribune on May 22, 2018 (page 7)
by Atty. Demaree J.B. Raval [Atty. Raval worked with the late Senate President Edgardo J. Angara from 1981 until 2018. They are brods in the U.P. Sigma Rho Fraternity. Editor]

Today, we bury Edgardo Javier Angara in the town of Baler, Province of Aurora.

Since his death last Sunday, there have been heaps of praises for every facet of the life of this remarkable man – loving husband, father to four accomplished children, doting lolo, farmer, diplomat, educator, legislator non-pareil, finance whiz, art patron, culture freak, abogado de campanilla, etcetera. You name it, Angara has touched the lives of every Filipino, from the time he was thrust to the limelight in 1979 as President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, until his very last day on terra firma, as our Special Envoy to the European Union.

I will remember Angara - who relished being called simply EJA, or PEJA or SEJA or SPEJA or SEEJA depending on the position he held – as a father to those of us in the 70s and 80s who latched on to the then rising star from Baler, who took us under his wings, nurtured us, and in the process made our country all the much better.

To those of us who worked in government and in the private sector with EJA, we were recipients of his care and concern, and he catered to the needs of his co-workers, like a father should. EJA was a master of “The Great Nudge “ to open up great opportunities for his children. And they came in many forms: scholarships, admissions to higher education, jobs, appointments, election to public office and introductions that led to blue-chip clients. EJA’s impressive Rolodex opened doors and opportunities for us.

I witnessed how his sons and daughters, the beneficiaries of his benevolence, trooped to his wake at the Heritage, at UP and at the Senate. Listening to them recount their ordeal in getting EJA’s confidence, and finally being rewarded after going through the crucible, one can easily conclude that EJA was the wise father who knew well his own children, as the Bard once said.

A father uses his resources to make his sons and daughters succeed. EJA, our father, made us beneficiaries of his vast network of connections, like a father would just to ensure that his son or daughter would succeed and soar elsewhere, beyond the confines of OPEJA or OSEJA. Countless sons and daughters of EJA, the beneficiaries of his untiring counseling and mentoring, are themselves current leaders in the many corners of the bureaucracy, in business, in the three main branches of our government, or in the many fields of the legal profession that had EJA as its primus inter pares.

Shortly after EJA put up the South East Asia Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC) in 2005, and put me in to be its Executive Director (without compensation), he informed me that there was an opening in the United Nations where I could fit, and that he had strongly recommended me. When I balked, out of loyalty to him, what he said truly touched my heart : “Wala kang kinikita sa akin. 30 thousand lang. E, matanda ka na. Lumalaki na ang pamilya mo. At hindi na kita mai-pwesto sa gobyerno dahil sa mga pinag-gagawa mo.” The offer was tempting indeed, and I eventually accepted the position.

That was EJA the father, who would not hesitate to let his son or daughter go to where they could blossom beyond the confines of his office.

A father is concerned about the well being of his sons and daughters and their families. How many of his sons and daughters have been the beneficiaries of EJA’s medical assistance, or legal assistance, facilitation efforts, or every conceivable assistance that he can extend through his vast network? I recall somebody who was having problems securing his US visa in order to catch up with his enrolment at Harvard. All it took was a phone call from EJA to secure that visa.

I recall EJA’s limitless support to those who had serious medical issues. It was EJA who laid down the blueprint for effective use of a legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) via the public hospitals.

Or, how many of those who wanted to pursue a masteral or doctoral course were accepted upon EJA’s recommendation, with eventual scholarship funding from EJA’s own pockets to boot?

When I was kidnapped in July 1986 while serving then as General Counsel of UP, EJA was there to comfort my wife and two daughters, like a father would if his son were in that situation. He mobilized the resources at his command to make me resume a normal life. [This incident galvanized my resolve to stay with EJA, despite many tempting offers in the legal profession where our fraternity held considerable sway.]

When we were crafting the Peace Agreement with the RPB-Alex Boncayao Brigade in November 2000, EJA assigned to me the very dangerous task of negotiating the terms of the Peace



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