There is a common belief among people about celebrating those that have passed and being happy that they are moving on, rather than concentrating on grief.
For me, when it comes to Sen. Miriam Palma Defensor Santiago, that is difficult. Because she is the best president we never had, as the media rightly calls her.
And along with the title, are so many unfortunate ‘what-if’s.
Ever since my childhood, very few politicians have earned my respect as much Senator Miriam had. She is a strong Filipina woman who was never afraid to speak her mind, no matter the risks. She called out corruption when she saw it and her words were always sharp, piercing and straight to the truth.
Which isn’t that big of a surprise as she was an outstanding lawyer, to the point that even the International Criminal Court in Hague wanted her. This is an honour that no Filipino has ever had before.
But of course, I am not writing here to simply make a list of her achievements, many articles and posts are already doing that. It won’t be hard for you to find one. But I’m concentrating, musing on her essence as a person and why I find her personality so admirable.
Raised by a strict mother who was an ambitious principal, Dimpna Palma and a kind father who was a judge, Benjamin Defensor, her life from the very beginning was filled with expectations. This is especially highlighted by her mother’s aggressively high academic demands mixed with a dose of tough love. Very tough love. I learned her mother used to expect only the best and treated her coldly when she managed otherwise.
As unfortunate as this is for a childhood, no one can deny that it had moulded the iron in Miriam’s veins that made her the formidable figure she was, right to the very end.
“It’s good that Ma’am Miriam is here because she is one of the two only qualified to run this country,”
She grew up at a time in the Philippines where women had great disadvantages against them in education and career. Instead of pursuing careers traditionally perceived for women, such as nursing and teaching, Miriam stepped out of the box and declared that she would make her mark in the world of Philippine law.
And she did.
Even when she debated with current president Rodrigo Duterte, they rarely disagreed. He even agreed with her many times and believed she was also just as qualified to run the country. Because she was.
“Pano manligaw? Simple lang. Dalhin mo siya sa lugar na di niya alam, tapos iwanan mo.”
Just as much as Miriam could throw piercing comments, she could also elicit an eager laugh from her audience. Her humour was as prickly as her wit, which is part of the Miriam charm. A true ‘all-rounder’, as she was known from her university days, Miriam lives up to her title. What saddens me is the scandal that has troubled her life due to her surroundings and circumstances, which I think had definitely handicapped her run for presidency more than once.
Which is why I will always feel regret, since I think she deserved much more than her post. I will never get to see Miriam be the amazing president she could have been, and this is what saddens me the most.
Wherever you are Madame Miriam, know that my heart, my respect, is with you always.
What do you love the most about Miriam?