(Tribute to Miriam Defensor-Santiago)
by Apolinario Villalobos
She is such a colorful lady ever, who I have read and heard about. She is feisty and weighed down her words with piercing look and if in the mood with matching finger- pointing, yet. Known as the “Iron Lady of Asia”, she doesn’t give a damn, as to who she was berating because of their misdoings…she was ready to die anyway, and in fact she declared many times that she “takes bullets for breakfast”. And, her legacy is the courage to face death, especially, if one has a scheduled expiration based on medical findings…wisdom that has not a single speck of hypocrisy and fear. She was most thankful, however, that her “schedule” was delayed.
She is best known for her witty “hugot” or pick up lines, some of which were extemporaneously composed and delivered on the spot to spice up her speeches. Another known part of her person was her shapely pair of million-dollar legs! She was featured once in the cover of Panorama Magazine in bathing suit sitting by the pool side of the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati, with extended legs that showed their gorgeous shape.
She entered the Michigan University to hone her innate intelligence which finally brought her to fame as a lawyer and law maker. But before that, she was also a teacher and a judge. A graduate of the University of the Philippines with a degree of Political Science, she did it as Magna cum Laude. To top it all, she was also the speech writer of Ferdinand Marcos. And, to think that many thought, those fiery speeches that Marcos delivered, and who was admired for eloquence were from his own thoughts!
A Visayan who hailed from Iloilo City, she proudly declared that she was an Ilongga every time she had the opportunity. She sparked the spirit of the EDSA3 that led to the expulsion of Erap Estrada from Malacaἧan Palace. It was during her early years at the Senate, that both the spectators and fellow senators first heard her colorful remarks. She hated giggling, cell phones and unnecessary whispers when she had the floor. The current DOJ secretary had his share of colorful admonition when he was ordered to step out of the court room during a hearing, because she caught him covering his ears while she was delivering her piece of argument. Vitaliano Aguirre was so gentleman enough to meekly follow the order, instead of giving an alibi, such that the he was just trying to keep the sideburns of his toupee in place. She was ahead of Duterte in declaring that her life was in danger ever since she became a lawmaker. But her tough demeanor melted at the death of her son.
She desperately tried her best to give back to her country whatever strand of strength left with her during the twilight years of her life by even attempting to run as president in tandem with Bongbong Marcos as her running mate. Her courage and positive outlook showed their best every time she was on the road during the campaign period during which she was all smiles despite her heavy breathing every time she delivered a campaign speech. She must have known that she was nearing the “finish line” of her life because her messages were filled with premonitions.
Her utmost gratitude to God for having been given a fruitful, albeit chromatic and thrill-filled life must have been acknowledged when He gave her a peaceful eternal repose…..while asleep.