Why I Love Sen. Miriam Santiago

DIRECTLINE
By Boy Abunda
The Philippine Star
April 24, 2012

The Philippine political stage is more festive and riveting because of the phenomenal Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Some adore her to the point of blasphemous veneration. Others detest her like a tempestuous diva. But no one dares ignore Lady Miriam, for fear of being thrown to the Atlantic Ocean to be devoured by hungry sea monsters.

Below are the reasons why I adore one of the most fascinating people in the world.

1. She makes me proud of being Bisaya. She is mighty proud of being a probinsyana. She inspires like Sojourner Truth. She is one big testament that the ferocious Visayan accent does not in any way define the mind and heart of anyone. It unwittingly celebrates her brilliance. She is unapologetic about her accent because she knows that what she has in her mind and heart is what matters the most.

2. She defines her beauty. She is extremely comfortable with who she is physically and spiritually. She doesn’t fall into the trap of the Hermeses, the Chanels, the Loboutins and the Valentinos. She has a style of her own, a style that captures her persona. She is a fashion original. She is alone in her league. She is a style star because she doesn’t pander to any fashion dictator. And she self-deprecates — she laughs at herself and she sparkles.
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3. I enjoy it when she makes me run to Webster/Wikipedia. In the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, I have learned the meaning of “excessive entanglement,” “direct and representative democracy,” “panoply of human rights,” “tripartite democracy,” “due process clause” and the hilarious “waah!”

4. She doesn’t emasculate men. She feels very comfortable as a woman. She must be an exciting wife to her husband Jun Santiago. She doesn’t lose her femininity amidst the fire and the verbosity. Never for a single second did I imagine that she was not a woman or that she was a member of the LGBT community where she is very welcome. From experience, I know, she respects gays.

5. She is a target shooter. What a woman! She certainly knows her targets. And it’s not just about the eyes focusing on her target but it’s about the heart and the mind knowing the target. It’s a holistic technique and you learn this from Miriam. She brings that to the Senate floor, to her interviews, to various public fora, to diverse platforms. She shoots her targets bull’s-eye.

6. I love her because she knows how important it is to be relevant. Her pick-up lines rock. “Sana naka-off ang ilaw para tayo na lang mag-on.” “Nakalimutan ko ang pangalan mo eh pwede bang tawagin na lang kitang akin?” “Pag wala ka, buhay ko’y parang lapis na di pa natatasahan — pointless.” “When someone told me ‘ang ganda mo,’ I answered ‘sana ikaw rin.’” This is her way of telling her public, especially the youth, that “Hey, I’m interested to know you.”

Language is very important. Nelson Mandela, when he was fighting against the apartheid in South Africa, was criticized by the members of the African National Congress because at one point he studied the Afrikaans, the language of the white Africans. He was asked, “Why are you studying their language when they are our enemies?” He said something like, “You know that when you negotiate and fight with your enemy, you have to know their language, you have to know their sensibilities, you have to know what they’re talking about, you have to know their jokes, and you have to know what makes them laugh and cry. Studying their language gives you a window to the soul of your friends and adversaries.”

7. I love her because she is unpretentiously a politician of the first order. There are many ways of loving and serving this country. Some people are very good at accounting while others are good in the arts. Miriam is a brilliant legislator. She is an expert politician because a politician is someone who engages in activities that make better life for all. (People scoff at the word “politician” because in this country it has become tantamount to corruption and all the contemptuous words in hell.)

8. She has one of the most amazing and fabulous libraries I’ve ever seen in anybody’s house. It is a library where I can live my life forever. It’s a beautiful library. It is to-die-for and the kind that would drag you back home whatever happens in the outside world. Her library is paradise without Adam, Eve and the snake.

9. I like her because she is not afraid of anything and many people are afraid of her. She speaks her mind out in a way that is iconic. She speaks with panache. She is unstoppable. And because she has this power, the guilty and the faint of heart are afraid of her.

10. I like her because despite barbs and criticisms from members of the Catholic Church, she remains unwavering in her faith as a Christian. She will debate about theology, she will fiercely discuss her disagreements with members of the Catholic Church, she will say the funniest quips and the most sardonic jabs but she never said, “I am getting out of the Church or I don’t believe in God simply because I have disagreements with you.” She remains true to her God.

11. I know she is going to make this country proud in the International Court of Justice because of her encyclopedic knowledge of international law and her panoramic understanding of the human heart and soul.

12. She is not personal. She said, “I’m too old to be personal.” And she is not in her intellectual collisions with peers and in her verbal tussles with her adversaries. To her, it is part of a vibrant and intelligent discourse and then she laughs, goes to her corner and grabs her impregnable serenity.

13. She must be a damn good friend. Her college best friend is still her best friend today. This tells you a lot of what kind of a friend Miriam is.

In the world of politics, nobody has played her role better than Miriam Defensor-Santiago. On this stage she is a superstar. Waah!

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