Senator Esteban Abada was born on March 15, 1896, in Sarabia, Negros Occidental. Of middleclass parentage, the child Esteban grew up in the neighboring town of Kabancalan, where he graduated from the town’s elementary school as Salutatorian. At the age of 14, he went to Manila and studied at Manila High School. He was granted a scholarship and he pursued his studies in the Philippine Normal School, where he graduated in 1915.
He embarked on an educational career, starting immediately after graduation as a teacher in the elementary grades. In 1916, he became elementary school principal, and was subsequently promoted supervising teacher. Four years after he started his teaching career, Abada was elected as a pensionado to the United States. Studying in the Michigan, he was elected to the Phi Betta Kappa, a nation-wide fraternity of scholars. He graduated as Bachelor of Arts from that University with distinction, and was consequently awarded a Teacher’s Life Certificate.
Returning to the Philippines and to his interrupted teaching career, he served as high school teacher or two years, after which he was again promoted to the position of high school principal, which he held for three years. In 1927, he was a Superintendent of Schools. His first assignment was Zambales, and then he was transferred to Capiz, Tarlac, and Batangas. In 1939, he was designated Administrative Officer of the Bureau of Public Schools. While he was serving as Division Superintendent of Schools before that, he had occasion to associate with the then Speaker Manuel Roxas. In, 1946, after Roxas became President, he appointed Abada Director of Public Schools, and was Undersecretary of Education in 1948.
Drafted as senatorial candidate in 1949, he copped second place among all winning candidates in that election. Abada carried his efforts in behalf of education to the halls of the upper chamber of Congress. As an official of the Department of Education, Abada had a reputation as a fighter, taking on even Americans who had a hand in running of that department before our independence. As a Senator, Abada preserved that reputation, to the advantage of educational circles in the country. To his credit he has several important legislative measures affecting education, all enacted into law. He was, aside from his efforts for education, likewise a member of the Philippine Delegation to the United Nations during one of its plenary sessions.
Although suffering from an ailment, Senator Abada nevertheless contributed his share of work in the Senate during its 1954 session. He was Chairman of the Committee on Education, and as the session progressed, the ailment took its toll on his health.
He went to the United States for medical treatment but never recovered. The educational and political career of Esteban Abada ended in the New York Hospital where he died on Decemer 17, 1954.
He was survived by his widow, the former Purificacion Morente, and two children : Ester and Tita.