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Mr. Baler

By Jullie Y. Daza

THEY don’t make men like Edgardo Angara anymore. He was 83 but it will not be an exaggeration to say that up to his last day he led an active life dictated by a perenially active mind. He read and he wrote books, the day’s 24 hours were too short for all the things he aimed to achieve in a lifetime equivalent to five or ten or a dozen more.

His son and namesake and former peers in the Senate eulogized and praised him for his vision, the bills he authored that became law, the reforms he set in motion as an educator and legislator, but the Senator Angara that I knew, from a viewpoint neither too close nor too distant, was a public official who preferred to do things well without being loud. He spoke softly even when he had to raise his voice as UP president to raise funds for UP, a drive so smashingly successful that non-UP alumni have not heard of any of its successors since then.

As a senator of the republic, Ed, Edong, Sedja undertook many projects, but one I remember most clearly – I guess he had done his research and learned that I chose veggies and fruits over meat – was the Oh My Gulay campaign to plant vegetables and popularize them as a vital ingredient in the diet of ordinary citizens, in particular housewives and schoolchildren. OMG, Edong was a farmer. He was also Mr. Baler. Among the lawmakers of his generation, Edong was one who was earnestly persistent in inviting journalists to visit their bailiwick: “Spend a weekend in Baler, you won’t regret it. It’s the place to unwind and forget your deadlines.”

He was so proud of his hometown that he produced or co-sponsored a movie to tell the story of a heroic episode in the history of Baler. The film was a bit long and could have been improved with skillful editing. But as expected, he shrugged off the suggestion, saying there was no time to do it, when what he really meant, or so we thought, was that cutting 10 or 15 minutes of screening time was tantamount to amputating the script and depriving movie fans of the unbounded beauty of Baler.

In my last short conversation with Edong, he said he and Gloria had moved out of their house and moved into a condo.

“Easier to maintain and believe me, safer and more secure.” Wherever you are, Senator Edong, rest well and well secured.