Friends, family mourn former Senate President Angara

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2018 06:29 PM

MANILA - A man of gravitas who loved his country and served it the best that he can until the very end.

That was how family, friends, allies and colleagues remembered former Senate President Edgardo Angara on the first day of his wake at the Heritage Park in Taguig City. 

The long-time statesman succumbed to a heart attack on Sunday. He was 83. 

Former Senate President Edgardo Angara hosted Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and other friends from ACCRA law at his Tagaytay City house on Saturday, the eve of his passing. Courtesy of Baby Palmerola

Former Senate President Edgardo Angara hosted Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and other friends from ACCRA law at his Tagaytay City house on Saturday, the eve of his passing. Courtesy of Baby Palmerola

Former Senate President Edgardo Angara hosted Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and other friends from ACCRA law at his Tagaytay City house on Saturday, the eve of his passing. Courtesy of Baby Palmerola

Former Senate President Edgardo Angara hosted Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and other friends from ACCRA law at his Tagaytay City house on Saturday, the eve of his passing. Courtesy of Baby Palmerola

Former Senate President Edgardo Angara hosted Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and other friends from ACCRA law at his Tagaytay City house on Saturday, the eve of his passing. Courtesy of Baby Palmerola

Among the early visitors were former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Arroyo recalled that Angara was a “man of gravitas,” recalling what her father, the late former President Diosdado Macapagal, said of Angara when they both served in the Constitutional Convention of 1971. Macapagal was president of that convention.

“My father said he was one of the young Turks destined for higher leadership,” Arroyo said.

It was a lasting impression about Angara that the father made on the daughter, one that would later become an alliance when they served in the Senate together from 1992 to 1998. Arroyo backed Angara for the Senate Presidency and, when he lost that post, she joined him in the minority.

Ramos remembered how Angara as Senate President worked with him and then House Speaker Jose de Venecia on his administration’s legislative agenda, which included the creation of the LEDAC or Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

“Together with JDV, Egay and I as a team of 3 put out during his term maybe 120 reform laws or maybe one reform law every 9 days through constant consultation and consensus [in] LEDAC," he said. 

"It was a bill that was approved by Congress but vetoed by President Cory (Corazon Aquino) but I saw it as something that will be useful in governance. We took it back, refiled it and made it into law meaning we were almost parliamentary already... I won on the platform of a parliamentary [government],” Ramos added. 

For Ramos, this showed Angara was a team player, not an obstructionist.

“Foremost as a member of the Philippine team in that not just a member but a ranking player, but of course with a good team captain,” he said.

“His work ethic... besides he was not a total politician, nor was an aggressive lawyer, no. He was humanitarian.”

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, still could not believe his friend is gone. 

Just a day before Angara's passing, Drilon and other lawyer friends were at the former Senate chief's home in Tagaytay Highlands and shared merienda after celebrating the anniversary of ACCRA Law, a firm they had founded. 

“It was a shock to me. Nagulat po ako dahil noon pong Sabado ng pananghalian magkasama kami, pagkatapos nung alas-4 ng hapon nagyaya siyang pumunta sa kaniyang rest house... sa Tagaytay (I was surprised because last Saturday, we were together for lunch, and around 4 p.m., he invited us to come to his rest house... in Tagaytay," said Drilon. 

Photos released by the office of Angara's son Sen. Sonny Angara showed that the former legislator was in a "jovial mood" when he hosted friends for afternoon snacks. 

"Nagbibiruan kami hanggang 6:30 ng hapon (We were exchanging jokes until 6:30 p.m.)," Drilon said. 

"...[B]iniro ko siya dahil marami pa siyang mga plano na sinasabi sa akin. 'Alam mo Ed dapat ikaw ay mabuhay hanggang ikaw ay 183 years old dahil sa 83 ka ngayon, sa dami mo pang plano mga 100 taon pa sigurong kailangan' (I teased him and said with the many plans he has been telling me about, 'you know Ed you should live until 183 years old, because you're 83 now, but you still have so many plans, you probably need 100 more years). We were laughing," he said. 

Drilon said Angara was "very happy" and that they had a "very pleasant afternoon." 

"So I left confident he was well. I asked him how his health was, he said very well," he said. 

"...I really miss Ed. [It's a] sad way of departing... on the other hand we were together up to the last moment of his life, we shared jokes, pleasant things, and there are certain things I can't make public. Talagang (really) it was a nice, pleasant 2 hours of his life that I spent there.”

His son Sen. Sonny Angara got to spend time with his father last week before he left for China. 

“I was actually in China... I was travelling, I was called by my staff, sabi nila 'yung mga kasambahay ni Daddy nakita siya di na daw humihinga (they said Daddy's house helpers saw him and he was no longer breathing)," Angara said. 

The elder Angara was taken to the Tagaytay Medical Center 11:15 a.m. after household staff found him unresponsive in his room. Doctors were no longer able to revive him. 

"The day before, he had a long schedule, napagod ho ata (he might have gotten tired)," said the younger Angara, adding that his father was heard coughing in his room Sunday morning. 

He said he was able to visit his father last Wednesday just to check on him. 

"That rarely happens. Ako'y nagpapasalamat na nagkaroon ng closure (I am thankful that I had closure)," Angara said. 

He said the family has scheduled his father's interment on Sunday in his hometown Baler in Aurora Province. This was his father’s wish. 

“Gusto namin irespeto 'yung kaniyang hiling na ilibing siya sa hometown sa Baler sa lalawigan ng Aurora (We want to respect his wish to be laid to rest in his hometown in Baler, Aurora)," said Angara. 

Necrological services will be held at the Senate on Wednesday and the next day at the University of the Philippines, where his father served as President from 1981 to 1987. 

Arroyo and former President Joseph Estrada are expected to deliver eulogies on Wednesday.

The younger Angara shared how much he idolized his father and what he learned from him. 

“[He was] very inspirational, idolo natin sa pulitika, bilang abogado siya, sumunod tayo sa yapak niya (He's my idol in politics, because he was a lawyer, I followed in his footsteps),” he said. 

“Work ethic fantastic talaga, kulang matulog sa opisina, at malalim na pag-aaral at pagsisiyasat bago gumawa ng batas (He had a fantastic work ethic, he would almost spend the night in his office, and he really undertook careful study and examination before crafting laws)."