by Hannah Torregoza
Former Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw, one of the active opposition during the Marcos martial law years, died on Thursday, May 24, at the age of 96.
Kalaw was a two-term senator from 1965 until martial law was declared on September 21, 1972. Her experiences in the Senate were of the tumultuous variety, coinciding with the rise of activism and a surging Communist insurgency.
At a Liberal Party rally on August 21, 1979, Kalaw sustained serious injuries from the Plaza Miranda bombing. She sustained a number of injuries due to shrapnel from the bomb, some of which remained forever embedded in her body.
During the martial law years, Kalaw was twice imprisoned by the Marcos regime notably because she almost single-handedly kept the opposition alive. Many of her colleagues at that time were either imprisoned or were in exile.
After the assassination of then Senator Ninoy Aquino, she ran for the parliament representing the district of Manila and won with an overwhelming majority.
However, she lost the vice presidency during the 1986 snap elections. After Marcos was ousted, she ran, but lost, in the 1987 Senatorial elections.
Kalaw was appointed chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), the country’s de-facto embassy to Taiwan during the latter part of the Ramos administration and during the early part of the Estrada administration.
During her Senate term, she worked alongside political luminaries such as Jovito Salonga, Gerardo Roxas, Ramon Mitra, Lorenzo Tanada, Arturo Tolentino, Emmanuel Pelaez, Dominador Aytona, Jose Diokno, Salvador Laurel, Sotero Laurel, Gil Puyat, Sergio Osmena Jr. and Diosdado Macapagal. She also had the distinction of being the first woman Senator to ever be re-elected.
She authored bills on anti-smuggling, salary standardization bill for Public School personnel, fixing the minimum compensation for medical personnel, creation of a Department of Public Welfare, the Magna Carta for students, an Act to define the government’s policy on the development of the tourism industry through a Commission on Tourism, and an Act to institute a Charter for barrio high schools.
Kalaw was born in Murcia (now Concepcion), Tarlac, on June 16, 1920, to Dr. Salvador Estrada and Demetria Reynada.
Kalaw graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree, major in Home Economics, from the University of the Philippines in 1940 and took up post graduate studies in social work.
She taught at the Far Eastern University, National Teacher’s College and Centro Escolar University. She was awarded a citation for being the “Outstanding Volunteer Social Worker of the Year.”
Among her many awards, the most prestigious was the Mahatma Gandhi Freedom Award which was conferred to her April 2, 1985 by the Department of Anthropology of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA. The award was given annually to “outstanding scholars or public figures who, by personal example, have given meaning and substance to freedom.”
Kalaw was married to the late Teodoro Kalaw, Jr., a businessman and son of nationalist Teodoro Kalaw Sr. and suffragette Pura Villanueva. She was the sister-in-law of Senator Maria Kalaw Katigbak, sister of her husband Teodoro.
She is survived by her daughter, Chingbee (married to Bobby Cuenca); Salvador and Tyrone (married to Jocelyn Quijano); 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Wake and services
The wake for the late senator will be held at Chapel 1 in the Heritage Memorial Park starting on Monday, May 29, from 5 p.m. to midnight, on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 30 and 31, from 2 p.m. to midnight.
The Senate will hold necrological services for Kalaw on Thursday, June 1, at the Senate session hall from 10 a.m. to noon and will resume at the Heritage Park.
A mass would be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 2, to be immediately followed by the internment at the Loyola Memorial Park in Parañaque.