Journalists are better writers rather than speakers. No wonder during the wake of Eddie “Ka Edong” del Rosario and the OFW tribute to him last July 7, I said a bare minimum of two sentences. But I wanted to say more, for Ka Edong actually first came into my life during the turn of the century, sometime in late 2000, when I was covering the migrant sector for Arab News in Saudi Arabia.
I remember first trudging the path to his old office in Bohol Avenue – “yung malapit sa ABS-CBN” he told me then – for my first interview with him. It was him who introduced me to Ellene Sana and Noel Esquela and Rob Ceralvo and the other overseas absentee voting advocates. So in essence Ka Edong brought me into the lobby.
My involvement with him made me realize many of the gripes overseas Filipinos had about their motherland, in particular about their lack of voting rights. It was no wonder that from a mere journalist on the beat, I became one of the advocates. I accompanied him and the group through endless courtesy calls to legislators who signed the Overseas Absentee Voting Bill. I listened with them to endless privilege speeches at the House of Representatives and at the Senate.
He was always the joker during those coffee sessions among the advocates, the favorite “tambayan” being Starbucks because of the smoking area. He would even eclipse then Sen. Nene Pimentel and sometimes then Rep. Jesli Lapus during dinners and lunches for the Overseas Filipinos.
With Ka Edong I drank endless cups of coffee at Figaro Coffee Shop at the CCP Complex waiting for the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Overseas Absentee Voting Bill to come up with a consolidated version for the President’s signature. The bicams were held at the nearby Department of Foreign Affairs and our group would hungrily wait for news from several insiders in the bicams.
Finally, I witnessed the signing of the bill into law in Malacañang on Feb. 13, 2003. Ka Edong was a pivotal member of the International Coalition for Overseas Filipino Voting Rights (ICOFVR) that labored for the bill and saw its passage.
And because of him I was too.