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Biography of Pelaez to be launched today

First Posted 12:27:00 07/31/2009

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The biography of former Philippine vice president Emmanuel Pelaez will be launched today at the Casa Gorordo Museum in Cebu City.

?What's Happening to Our Country: The Life and Times of Emmanuel Pelaez? is written by political commentator Nelson Navarro and will be presented to Cebu civic leaders and students of political history by the foundation named after the former statesman in partnership with his nephew, business leader Efrain T. Pelaez Jr.

The coffee table book of over 340 pages is both a biography and compelling narrative woven around the key political figures from the Quirino administration up to the Aquino administration.

The book illustrates the patriotism of pre-Marcos political figures and serves as a worthy reminder for genuine servant leadership for those seeking public office.

Efrain Pelaez said the book also expounds on ?what it takes to be an effective leader who can bring about lasting change.?

The theme will be expounded by guest speaker Ernesto Aboitiz, and Antonio G.M. La Vina, dean of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila.

Touted as the heir apparent of the President Ramon Magsaysay, Pelaez, then the youngest senator in 1954 at age 38, was considered presidential timber in the run-up to the 1957 and 1961 elections for the presidency. Nevertheless, his youth predisposed him to bide his time.

When he was ready to seek the highest post in the land prior to the 1964 race, Pelaez lost the Nacionalista party nomination to Ferdinand Marcos in a convention marred by coercion and massive vote buying.

Marcos? assumption of power forever dashed Pelaez's chances in fulfilling a life-long ambition. Still, he continued to serve the country in various capacities.

As congressman and senator, he authored the Rural Electrification Act of 1969 which brought electricity to the homes of the most humble folk.

As an assemblyman in the early 1980s, he waged a fiery crusade against the coconut levy, ?perhaps the biggest of all Marcosian scandals,? according to Navarro.

As a result of his unrelenting pursuit of truth and justice for the coconut farmers in a period when political opposition was hardly tolerated, Pelaez was ambushed and was nearly killed in 1982. The coconut monopoly was dismantled soon after.

In the Aquino era, Pelaez was appointed ambassador to Washington where he eventually gained the respect of key personalities on Capitol Hill and helped pave the way for the massive infusion of American aid to the Philippines following the devastation of the Philippine economy by Ferdinand Marcos.

Author Nelson Navarro will be at the launch to sign copies of the book.

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