REPRESENTATIVE Ivan A. Blanco, the House Republican leader, passed away Friday afternoon. He was 44.
Blanco attended a Developmental Disabilities Council meeting at the Aqua Resort Friday morning. Variety was told that after lunchtime, the Precinct 3 lawmaker suddenly felt weak, and then became unresponsive. He was rushed to the Commonwealth Health Center where he was pronounced dead at past 1:30 p.m.
One of Blanco's colleagues in the House, Rep. Angel Demapan, described him as “beloved by everyone.”
“His death is big loss to the Commonwealth He was an honorable statesman, a very loving father and a very devoted husband.”
Demapan added, “I just ask that we keep his family and his soul in our prayers during this very difficult time.”
“He appeared to be a very healthy individual and to get this call today is a shock to everyone,” Demapan said.
“We will miss his service, his tremendous commitment to the community. We will miss that so much because he inspired us to work harder — he inspired the community to become a strong community. Now that we will not have his presence personally with us, we will miss him dearly. We are committed to keep his legacy alive and that is the legacy of service,” Demapan said.
A Creighton University graduate, Blanco worked with the Office of the National Public Auditor of the Federated States of Micronesia for three years before he became director of the Central Statistics Division of the CNMI Department of Commerce.
He later became the department’s deputy secretary and then the special assistant for protocol and communications of the CNMI Office of the Governor.
In 2016, he was elected a Precinct 3 House member, and was re-elected in 2018 and 2020.
He had earlier announced that he was running for senator in next year’s elections.
Blanco is survived by his wife Carmen and their three children.
A true public servant
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres issued the following statement:
“It is my sorrowful duty to announce officially the passing of the Honorable Ivan Alafanso Blanco, Representative of the 22nd Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature, this afternoon here on Saipan.
“Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and I, along with our families and our Commonwealth, extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to his wife Carmen, their children Lilly, JC, +Pierre, Kide, Paige, and the entire Blanco family during this difficult time.
“Congressman Blanco was a true statesman in every sense of the title. He was humble, intelligent, and passionate, and he held a deep love for our islands and the people who call them home, especially his beloved Precinct 3. He was a gifted communicator that brought people together and knew how to make anyone feel welcome. He treated everyone with kindness and respect and worked until his passing day to make a better Commonwealth so that our future generations are blessed with an opportunity to have a better life.
“He lived his life purposefully and with immense joy, lighting up any room with his warm smile and cheerful greetings. He believed in raising the standard of living in the Marianas by developing our economy responsibly, enhancing our infrastructure, and protecting our environment. He believed in the power of our youth to make a difference and empowered them to be leaders in the future. He also believed in collaboration with our Micronesian brothers and sisters to achieve solutions for our communities across our Blue Continent.
“We just lost a true public servant, who served Precinct 3, the island of Saipan, and the Marianas honorably and admirably. We join our colleagues in the Legislature and our entire community in mourning, as we honor his memory and life of service.
“As a mark of solemn respect for the life and service of the Honorable Ivan Alafanso Blanco, Representative of the 22nd Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature, I hereby order, that the flag of the Commonwealth, together with the flag of the United States of America, be flown at half-staff at the Juan Atalig Sablan Memorial Building and upon all public buildings, instrumentalities, and grounds within the Commonwealth until the day of his interment.”
On Friday evening, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio issued the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of NMI Representative Ivan Blanco. I am fortunate to have worked alongside Representative Blanco through the Marianas Working Group, strengthening Guam’s partnership with the NMI,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “He was a true diplomat, whose commitment to service has bridged communities throughout Micronesia.”
“Governor Leon Guerrero and I join the people of the Northern Marianas as they mourn Representative Blanco’s passing. On behalf of the island of Guam, we extend our deepest condolences and prayers to his wife Carmen, his children — Lili, Ivan Jr., Kide, and Paige, and all his loved ones,” added Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio.
‘A great loss’
On Saturday, the CNMI judiciary issued the following statement:
“The Northern Mariana Islands Judiciary extends its deep condolences on the passing of the Honorable Ivan Alafanso Blanco, Member of the House of Representatives. His passing is a great loss to the Commonwealth. His character exemplified servant-leadership, compassion, and humility. He dedicated his life for the betterment of our people. The Judiciary is profoundly grateful for his support of the Judiciary’s mission in protecting the people’s rights and liberties.
“The Judiciary joins the people of the Commonwealth and Micronesia in mourning a great statesman and extends heartfelt sympathies to his family.”