RIP Raul Roco

Raul Roco passes away, due to cardiac arrest as a complication of cancer. He was 63.

Remember the Philippine presidential elections of 1998? Roco was a shining beacon of hope back then, the progressive candidate of choice for women and youth, an eloquent speaker and accomplished lawyer, with impeccable taste in wildly colored Hawaiian print shirts. He came to Ateneo for a panel debate before the elections, across from Jose de Venecia. I was photography and graphic design editor for The GUIDON at the time, and was able to shake his hand after the debates. Unfortunately I didn’t keep the prints of my photos, and I have no idea where they are now.

Roco lost the 1998 elections, but performed pretty well, coming in third after Erap and De Venecia. He ran again in 2004, but lost to Gloria and ranked far lower, his popularity from 1998 mostly eclipsed, and his health fading due to his battle with cancer. I’ve long thought that if Gloria and FPJ had not run, the election would have been down to him and Lacson, which would have been a much more decent set of choices for the Filipino public than the decision between Gloria and FPJ.

Well, Raul Roco did what he could for a country mostly too starstruck to appreciate what he had to offer. Here’s hoping Aksyon Demokratiko lives on in his spirit.

More: Roco’s official website, Wikipedia entry, Malacañang’s official word, Cathcath, PCIJ, Paolo Manalo, Edwin Lacierda, Conrado de Quiros.