Beloved former mayor and Filipino congressman Edward Hagedorn dead at 76

 October 4, 2023

A beloved former mayor and member of Congress in the Philippines has passed away.

Edward Hagedorn, who previously served as mayor of Puerto Princesa City for more than two decades and currently represented Palawan in Congress, died Tuesday at the age of 76, Palawan News reported.

His death, which was announced by his family in a social media post, came just over a week prior to what would have been his 77th birthday.

Had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

"With heavy hearts, we inform you of the passing of a beloved friend, brother, husband, father, and public servant, Edward Solon Hagedorn. Our dear Congressman died peacefully on October 3rd, 2023, after 76 years of shining his light into the world," Hagedorn's family said in a statement.

"Cong. Ed’s life speaks volumes, particularly in his role as a champion for the environment, tourism, agriculture, and peace and order," the family added. "His efforts created inclusive spaces for the community and inspired a collective desire for change. It’s hard not to be infected by his energy and laughter, which he freely shares with everyone he encounters."

The Manila Times reported that no cause of death was announced yet but that Hagedorn had previously revealed that he'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Born in Parañaque City in 1947, Hagedorn was first elected in 1992 to be mayor of Puerto Princesa City and served multiple terms in that position until 2013 -- a two-decade tenure in which he focused on promoting tourism and protecting the environment, transforming his city to become among the "cleanest and greenest" in the country.

He took those priorities with him when elected to Congress and earned himself the nickname of the "Guardian of Palawan."

A beloved and inspirational figure

According to the Philippine News Agency, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez expressed his deep condolences to Rep. Hagedorn's family over the tragic loss and shared in a statement how he'd not only been an inspirational figure but also was humorous and wise and full of "profound insights."

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our cherished colleague, Rep. Edward Solon Hagedorn," Romualdez said. "More than his roles in the political arena, Cong. Ed was a guiding light and inspiration to many of us personally. His passion for the environment, tourism, agriculture, and peace was not just a professional pursuit, but a reflection of his soul."

"His genuine warmth and ability to touch lives went beyond titles and protocols. To me, and many of us at the House of Representatives, he wasn’t just a colleague, he was family. As we remember Cong. Ed, let us not only grieve his passing but also celebrate the inspiration he provided. His legacy calls us to continue his work with the same passion and love he demonstrated every day," the speaker added. "To have known and worked with Cong. Ed has been an honor and a privilege. His spirit and legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire us all."

The "Guardian of Palawan" who set the example for other leaders

The PNA reported that Rep. Marlyn Alonte, who serves as chair of the House Ecology Committee, described Hagedorn as an "environment crusader" and the "guardian of Palawan" and "champion" of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which he helped get listed as a protected World Heritage Site with the United Nations.

Alonte said, "He defended Palawan as any father would defend his family and home, especially against people and companies who tried or intended to desecrate Palawan’s natural beauty and wealth."

"I really look up to him. Every time we conducted benchmarking when I was Mayor of Biñan City, we always went to Palawan because Puerto Princesa City is a fine example of good governance," they added, according to the Times.

That sentiment was shared by Deputy Majority Leader Alfred Delos Santos, who said that Hagedorn was able to "establish that law and order with the consent of the governed and with local laws the governed followed for their own good," and added, "Mayors and governors from other parts of the country traveled to Puerto Princesa in Palawan to learn from the governance successes of Hagedorn and Puerto Princesa."

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