Island community grieves loss of Ben Pangelinan - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Island community grieves loss of Ben Pangelinan

Posted: Updated:

 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The island is in a state of mourning over the loss of Senator Vicente "Ben" Pangelinan. The Democrat lawmaker served 20 years in the Guam Legislature and passed away this morning. He was a man many considered a great statesman, passionate leader and dedicated public servant.

Attorney Mike Phillips says there are very few people like Ben. "It's an enormous loss for the people of Guam," he told KUAM News. Phillips was one of several island leaders and former colleagues who remembered Pangelinan today after he passed away this morning. Phillips remembers Pangelinan for the time they worked together paying cost of living allowances for retirees, he said, "With COLA, the same thing, Ben was tenacious he wouldn't stop I remember when he was designing the legislation, we were on the phone two or three times a day, he was always in the lead, keeping me on the loop."

Pangelinan was born in Saipan and came to Guam at a very young age. He grew up in Barrigada and graduated from Father Duenas Memorial School in 1974 before attending Georgetown University in Washington, DC with a bachelor's degree in government. At an early age, Ben showed interest in government service having worked as a staff assistant for Guam's first congressman Antonio Won Pat. Speaker Judi Won Pat says as an intern, Senator Ben would attend family dinners in DC and today remembered the softer side of Ben.

"Ben would always pick on me and joke with everybody especially when our colleagues were around him," she recalled.

Lawmakers were supposed to reconvene session today but instead senators paid tribute by sharing their memories of the late senator. Black ribbons were placed at the entrance of the Guam Legislature with a candle and wreath placed on his desk in the Session Hall and his chair draped with black ribbon. Won Pat says Senator Ben wasn't just a dear friend and mentor but a true leader and genuine statesman, saying, "Always reminding me to put the people first and that's what exactly what he did his whole life, as a public servant you look at his office and you see the sign and what does it say? The People's Office - it was never really about Ben."

Pangelinan served in the 22nd to the 27th and 29th through the 32nd Guam Legislatures. He served as the speaker in the 27th Guam Legislature and last served as the chairman on the Committee on Appropriations. Senator Ben served as chair on many committee and championed many issues that others did not. Along with cola, he led the fight on Guam's quest for self-determination, protection of our natural resources and our land.

Acting Land Management director and former Chamorro Land Trust Commission chairman Mike Borja says Pangelinan fought hard until the day he died. "Senator Pangelinan was a very big champion on Chamorro land rights here on Guam and land rights all together and his passing is very hurtful," he shared.

Many island leaders paid their respects to Senator Ben this morning at the Guam Memorial Hospital, including Governor Eddie Calvo. He said Ben, "Has served this island and he served it at 150% and he was working 'till his dying breath. What more can we ask from a public servant?"

Today Governor Calvo declared the island in a state of mourning to honor the life of Senator Ben. "He's a fighter - we may not always agree but one thing you ask for someone elected into office is to fight for your cause, Chairman Ben loved the people and he fought for the people and with that all I can say the island has lost a true Guamanian, a Chamorro patriot," he said solemnly.

For the past few weeks, Senator Ben was in the intensive care unit at GMH. He recently announced he would be retiring after this term to, as he said, "Ensure I spend the remaining good years of my life with my family - enjoying them, living with them, serving them and giving them the same commitment that I have given to the people of Guam these past decades." 

Ben Pangelinan was 58 years old.

  • NEWS HEADLINESMore>>

  • Schools conducting morning sweeps

    Schools conducting morning sweeps

    Guam schools are being put on alert. Guam Department of Education leaders instructed school administrators to conduct a sweep of their campuses before students and employees show up on Friday.  The notice coming out of Guam Homeland Security following a threat that targeted Guam High School Thursday afternoon. The threat forced an evacuation of the school and the surrounding area. Though local and military first responders found no threat at the campus, Guam Homeland officials a...More >>
    Guam schools are being put on alert. Guam Department of Education leaders instructed school administrators to conduct a sweep of their campuses before students and employees show up on Friday.  The notice coming out of Guam Homeland Security following a threat that targeted Guam High School Thursday afternoon. The threat forced an evacuation of the school and the surrounding area. Though local and military first responders found no threat at the campus, Guam Homeland officials a...More >>
  • Derrick Baza Hills back in court for theft

    Derrick Baza Hills back in court for theft

    Back in court - this time, for theft charges. A violation notice was filed in the District Court of Guam against Derrick Baza Hills. Back in December 2017, the former senatorial and Agat vice mayoral candidate reportedly stole less than $100 worth of items from the Navy Exchange. He already faces several other charges involving prescription drugs and theft in the local court. He'll make his first appearance in federal court on March 6.More >>
    Back in court - this time, for theft charges. A violation notice was filed in the District Court of Guam against Derrick Baza Hills. Back in December 2017, the former senatorial and Agat vice mayoral candidate reportedly stole less than $100 worth of items from the Navy Exchange. He already faces several other charges involving prescription drugs and theft in the local court. He'll make his first appearance in federal court on March 6.More >>
  • Dededo students march for world peace

    Dededo students march for world peace

    Rain or Shine, these Roadrunners want World Peace. Benavente Middle School hosted their 8th annual March for Peace Thursday morning. Students, along with Superintendent and members of the Board, marched to Maria Ulloa and Wettengel Elementary, with signs promoting peace. Principal Patrick Egrubay said, "Peace is something that each of us should strive for, especially more recently we know that there's tragedy that's going on across the country and around the world, we want our s...More >>
    Rain or Shine, these Roadrunners want World Peace. Benavente Middle School hosted their 8th annual March for Peace Thursday morning. Students, along with Superintendent and members of the Board, marched to Maria Ulloa and Wettengel Elementary, with signs promoting peace. Principal Patrick Egrubay said, "Peace is something that each of us should strive for, especially more recently we know that there's tragedy that's going on across the country and around the world, we want our s...More >>
Powered by Frankly