For some Filipinos, electing Philippine senators is more like casting votes for a popularity contest. Gullible voters are rife and outnumber those who still believe in “voting wisely”. Philippine senators who win each election year serve 6 years in office, so it’s disappointing to know that the less deserving are now senators (and some now in jail), and the country deprived of better, more qualified law makers.
But enough of the complaining. We can only hope that future voters will wise up and do their due diligence to elect deserving candidates. Who knows? Perhaps in the future, one of them might achieve a milestone that will somehow make their predecessors proud.
And so in this article, we feature ten prominent Philippine senators who forever left a mark in our country’s history:
- Eva Estrada Kalaw was the first Filipina to be elected senator twice, in 1965 and in 1971. Prior to her political stint, she worked as an educator for prominent universities and also won a citation for her involvement in social work. Eva Kalaw served as a senator under President Marcos for seven years. [Image source: bong.manayon.net]
- Manuel L. Quezon became the first President of Philippine Senate in 1916 and remained in the position until November 15, 1935. He later won the presidency under the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
- Hadji Butu is a statesman who became the very first Muslim to become a senator of the Philippines. Born in Jolo in 1865, Hadji Butu was appointed Prime Minister of Sultan Badarudin at the tender age of 16. He died due to kidney disease in 1938, one year after the then President Manuel Quezon appointed him as a member of the Board of National Language.
- Former senators Eulogio Rodriguez and Neptali Gonzales Sr. hold the record for the most number of times to be elected as Senate President. Both of them were appointed as leader of the Philippine Senate for five times. Rodriguez served under the Commonwealth Republic, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Congress from 1951 to 1963. Gonzales, on the other hand, led the Senate under the Ninth, Tenth, and Twelfth Congress from 1991 to 1998.
- Benigno Aquino Jr., the father of our current president and husband of late Corazon Aquino, entered the Philippine Senate at the age of 34, making him the youngest Filipino in history to ever win the senatorial race.
- Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is the first Asian and Filipino to be appointed judge for the International Criminal Court (ICC). This is a tribunal that tries cases involving crimes against humanity. Image source: www.senate.gov.ph]
- Marcelo “Celing” Fernan is a Filipino lawyer who made history after becoming the first Filipino to serve both as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Senate President. He is also known as the third Filipino to led both the judicial and legislative branches of the Philippines. [Image source: cybermedialink.blogspot.com]
- Antonio Trillanes IV is the first Philippine senator to be elected while incarcerated. He was detained for almost seven and a half years after leading several officers in the infamous Oakwood Mutiny of 2003.
- Ambrosio Padilla was the first professional basketball player to become a senator of the Philippines. He served in the office from 1957 to 1972. Padilla was a former team captain of Ateneo Blue Eagles and the national team who placed fifth in the 1936 Summer Olympics. [Image source: http://philpost.gov.ph/]
- Rogelio de la Rosa was the first Filipino movie star to ever win a senatorial race. He stayed in the office from 1957 to 1963 and opened doors for future actor-turned-politicians like Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid. Rogelio de la Rosa is considered one of the most popular Pinoy matinee idols of all time after starring in several classic movies opposite superstars Carmen Rosales, Paraluman, and Rosa del Rosario. [Image source: http://www.andropampanga.com]