Blas F. Ople

Senator Blas F. Ople was born on February 3, 1927 in Hagonoy, Bulacan, to working-class parents. His father Felix Antonio Ople was a craftsman who repaired boats while his mother Segundina Fajardo, was a simple housewife. The young Ople graduated valedictorian at the Hagonoy Elementary School. 

Ople fought in the Second World War as a teenage officer of the Del Pilar Regimet, Bulacan Military Area. He also fought under the BMA's Buenvista Regimet until the capture of General Yamashita in 1945.

After finishing high school at FEU in 1948, he studied Liberal Arts at UP and MLQU University. He graduated with Liberal Arts degree at the Educational Center of Asia (formerly Quezon College) in Manila. Looking for the so-called greener pasture, the hardworking Bulakeño applied for a job at the Manila Times - Daily Mirror publications where he was hired on the spot as desk editor of the Daily Mirror. He did this on the basis of an instant rewrite test which he passed with flying colors.

As journalist, Ople was considered as one of the youngest columnist in that golden era of journalism. He wrote the light and breezy column "Jeepney Tales" for the Daily Mirror, sister publication of the old Manila Times. Aside from the flourishing journalistic career, he also headed the Blas F. Ople Associates, a public relations consulting firm.

He was the co-founder and executive vice chairman of the National Progress Movement or Kilusang Makabansa which raised issues on nationalism and social justice in the late 1950s. He wrote political and social commentaries for print media.

In 1963, he headed the Executive Planning Group of Magsaysay-for-President Movement. He later served as technical assistant on labor and agrarian affairs to President Ramon Magsaysay and concurrently as special assistant to the late Labor Secretary Terry Adevoso. Ople taught as  a professor lecturer at UP on Philippine Institution (Rizal studies) and at the Philippine College of Commerce, now Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

In 1967, he became assistant to then President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos as labor secretary. He ran for Senate in 1971 under the banner of the Nacionalista Party, but lost. He was considered as the "Father of the Labor Code" which was signed into law by President Marcos in 1974. The book codified all labor and social regulations in the country. He also fathered the National Manpower and Youth Council (now TESDA) to carry out the training program for skilled workers. Ople initiated the overseas employment in 1976, which has since a major prop of the Philippine economy. The program generated employment for the estimated four to seven million Filipino workers overseas which remitted $7 billion. To further assist the country's overseas workforce, he created the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Philippine Labor attache corps to carry out the overseas employment program.     

In 1975, he was elected president of the 60th general assembly of the International Labor Organization, the first and only Filipino to hold that post.

In 1983, Ople was recipient of a Gold Medal of Appreciation from the ILO for his contributions to social justice both in his country and in the international community.

In April 1978, he topped the elections for National Assembly representing his home region of Central Luzon, consisting of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bataan and Zambales. He was reelected to the regular Batasang Pambansa representing his home province of Bulacan in 1984.

In May 1985, he was appointed by president Corazon Aquino as member of the opposition to serve in the Constitutional Commision of 1986. His performance as one of the framers of the 1987 Philippine constitution was considered outstanding. He served as chairman of the institution for Public Policy, a policy research institute.

In 1992, Ople ran for the Senate under the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and won, placing No. 11 in the 24-man winning slate. He served for six years with his co-winners in the top 12. The lower 12 served  for three years. He was elected Senate President Pro Tempore in October 1996. He was reelected in same post July 1997.

In 1998, he ran for reelection under the ticket of the Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino and won, placing seventh.

In the Senate, he chaired the Senate foreign relations committee and served as a member of the Commission on Appointments. He became acting Senate President with the resignation and death of Senate President Marcelo Fernan. In July 26, 1999 he was elected by his colleagues as the President of the Senate and served until July 12, 2000.

As a writer, he authored the following books: Frontier of Social Policy, Workers, Managers, Elites. The Human Spectrum of Development, The Freedom to Achieve, Global but Parochial, the Philippines and the World, and Windows to a Changing World.

As a columnist, he wrote columns for various newspapers - Horizons, Manila Bulletin, Windows, Panorama Magazine, Interface Graphic Magazine and Balintataw Balita.

He is married to Susana Vasquez. They have seven children.

Senate Presidents