Remembering SEJA: A Retirement Story

Truly, the man loved his hometown, the youth, and his country. For that, SEJA deserves to be honored and remembered by the Filipino people and nation.

A grateful nation is mourning over the passing of one of its most accomplished public servants- Sen. Edgardo J. Angara (SEJA). On Sunday, 13 May, SEJA quietly passed away due to an apparent heart attack at the age of 83.

Many of his colleagues and contemporaries have already written their vivid recollections and given their tributes to honor the brilliance and humility exhibited by SEJA in his many decades in public service. While I only had a few encounters with the late Senator, his words of wisdom today serve as a personal moral and social compass in my dealings in both the private and public sectors.

SEJA was a gracious host to our organization back in 2014 when we were in the process of forming a political coalition with his party, the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP). As a pioneer of many landmark laws on youth development, particularly on education, SEJA’s short speeches during our assemblies emphasized on the need to pave the way for young people to inherit the reigns of leadership in the country. As a retired public servant, he implored all of his partymates to provide opportunities for the youth to become part of the country's power dynamics.

At several instances during our visit, SEJA shared his desire to produce more historical films. Least known by many, SEJA helped put together the movie "Baler" in 2008 that won several awards in the Metro Manila Film Festival, including Best Picture. At that time, he was contemplating on working with producers to mount stories which depict the bravery of lesser-known Filipino heroes such as the likes of Tamblot, Malong etc. during the Spanish Occupation.

He also dreamt big for his province of Aurora in terms of tourism. In one of our dinners, SEJA shared to us that the Dr. Juan C. Angara (Baler) Airport had already started catering flights from Manila to Baler, Aurora, and vice versa at least once a week. Based on our brief trip to the Baler Museum and Sabang Beach, there was indeed reason to believe SEJA that Baler was ready to break out from remoteness and isolation and is ripe to become a premiere tourism destination in the country.

My political awakening began during the time of former President Fidel Ramos, when SEJA served as Senate President. To this day, it remains surreal that I had the opportunity to meet and converse with the most accomplished Senator of our time during his retirement years. Not in my wildest imaginations did I fancy to be mentioned by the good Senator in a speech to his LDP partymates. Ironically, these encounters with SEJA happened all in the year 2014.

I never got to see him again after that year. Our talks to form a political coalition with his party did not materialize eventually. While these may have been the case, the lessons gained from his words and actions are both timeless and priceless.

Truly, the man loved his hometown, the youth, and his country. For that, SEJA deserves to be honored and remembered by the Filipino people and nation.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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