Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) has fond memories of former House speaker Oscar C. Rasa, whom he credits with helping shape his political career, since his days as a senator in the first and second CNMI Youth Congress until he became a member of the Legislature.
Rasa died on Nov. 11 at the Commonwealth Health Center after battling a long illness. He was laid to rest at the Chalan Kanoa cemetery a week after.
Demapan, one of the six GOP lawmakers in the 19th Legislature and a member of the Republican majority in the 20th, said Rasa will always be remembered as one of the Commonwealth’s fathers.
“When history books tell stories of our forefathers, the name Oscar C. Rasa will always be on that list of esteemed leaders who helped frame the structure of government in the Commonwealth that we live in today,” said Demapan.
Rasa, aside from being the first speaker of the CNMI’s inaugural Legislature, was a delegate to the CNMI Constitutional Convention and former member of the local Covenant negotiating team. He was also one of the senators in the 5th Congress of Micronesia serving on the Joint Committee on the Future Political Status for Micronesia.
Rasa was one of Demapan’s advisers when it came to political matters, particularly when he became chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in the 20th Legislature.
He would seek the advice of Rasa, whom he called Uncle Oscar. “He had a personality unlike any other. He was generous in passing on his knowledge. He was straightforward and told it like it was.”
“He was a little too honest sometimes, because he would tell you the truth event if it hurt. But that is what I and those whom he loved admired about him. He never sugar-coated anything. A spade was always going to be a spade. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Demapan said Rasa always began his day at 5am by calling his friends. “I’m sure many have gotten calls from Uncle Oscar as early as 6am. I used to look at my phone and say, ‘Si Uncle Oscar, he didn’t even give me time to brush my teeth.’”
“But on the other side of the phone line was a man already full of energy and ready to talk about case laws, constitutional provisions or campaign strategies.”
He added that Rasa was also a strong supporter of education, with a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Guam and a master’s degree in education in general social science with emphasis in government at the American University in Washington, D.C. Rasa also holds lifetime instructor credentials.