EDITORIAL: Salamat Miriam! How to say goodbye to a legend?

    In every street surrounding the Immaculate Conception Cathedral last night, thousands of people volunteered to kill their legs as they braved the long line on what looked like a meeting de avance of a frontrunner presidential candidate. Unfortunately, all were queuing up just to have a final glimpse of someone, a legend.

    Former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
    Former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
    Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the life of the senate, walking encyclopedia and queen of pick-up lines has finally “fade into the night like Batman” last Thursday, September 29, at the age of 71, after two years of battling lung cancer.

    Political career

    Miriam’s track record is unparalleled. Having served in all three branches of the government, it was her stint as the head of the then Commission on Immigration and Deportation that she started making a bang. Etching a trademark as the enemy number one of illegal aliens and corrupt government officials, Miriam was given a rare opportunity by young Filipinos who were thirsty for change that time – a ticket to Malacañang, the unconditional support to become another female president after Cory.

    A back-to-back female presidency will be a first in the modern world history if Miriam will win in the election that time. A Santiago presidency will bring the Philippines back again on the global stage, being the sole country upholding women empowerment at its highest level.

    However at that time, God was developing a new strategy on how to create a new breed of legend, and she was handpicked by God to undergo that kind of experiment.

    Tenacity to conquer adversity

    Nothing could be more heartbreaking than losing in the presidential race thrice – either being the second placer or the perennial cellar dweller, lose a seat in an international court due to cancer, and most of all, lose a beloved son while at the peak of becoming the finest legal luminary of your time.

    But Miriam went through all those tragedies and prevailed. God intended to make Miriam a legend, and she didn’t disappoint Him.

    Rising from the ashes of her failed presidential bid in ’92, Miriam became the queen of the senate for three times, having filed the most number of bills. She became the life of every senate hearings, actively lashing out against public officials and law offenders whenever they reason out any idiotic responses. And when everyone was clinging on to power, to save themselves, the legalist inside Miriam’s soul remained intact. For the feisty senator, the constitution must prevail at all times. She has ambitions, yes, but she’s willing to reconcile those for the greater good of the nation.

    “Queen Mother of the Youth” and “Social Media Rockstar”

    She also became an author of must-read books including the recent blockbuster hits “Stupid is Forever” and “Stupid is Forevermore”. But it was not only through her witty statements, pick-up lines and being a social media savvy that made the “Iron Lady of Asia” as the universal best friend of the millennials. It was her firm belief to the youth that they have the capacity to harness great changes that made them embrace her ideologies, antics and flaws.

    “Queen Mother of the Youth” and “Social Media Rockstar”
    A younger Miriam during her campaign sortie at the University of Cebu. Photo credit: Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago official Facebook page
    Political analyst and CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera was right. It was Miriam alone who believed that a “youth vote” exists in the Philippine electoral society. Miriam’s epic political journey has been ignited and continuously fueled by the youth that came from different generations. The welfare of the youth has always been the core of her political capital. She cultivated the norm that young voters should emulate on them the highest standards when choosing their leaders. She made sure that these young minds will always have that kind of leaders to vote for as she continuously offered her brand of leadership.

    She set the standard, and then she became the standard.

    Salamat Miriam

    Salamat Miriam. Singapore has Lee Kuan Yew, the United Kingdom has Margaret Thatcher and you were given to us. Unlike the previous two, we never gave you the chance to govern this chaotic nation. We deeply regret it. We are sorry, your services were not properly compensated. But we promise that next time, if somebody will offer his/her service to the country, we promise to accord that person with love and support, things that we never fully gave to you after all that you have done.

    Salamat Miriam. As you finally made sure that you will no longer post tweets in your official Twitter account, this nation finds itself lost for words on how to say goodbye to you. Not because you’ve done so much for us, but because on how we took you for granted. But hopefully, your death will wake this sleeping race to compose ourselves and do what is right to make this country a better place as how it was destined to be.

    Salamat Miriam. For staying with us despite the odds and for believing that this country is not a lost case. Thank you for believing that the Filipino nation is a bunch of superior intellectuals, able to go head on head with the rest of the world. Truly, we are capable of doing greater things, and that we are not a poor country, we just have a mismanaged economy as what you’ve said back in 1992.

    Salamat Miriam. For the senate bills, pick-up lines and for giving us hope. There will never be any constitutional provision that will prohibit the Filipino people from being inspired by your character and brand of leadership. We will not just remember, but we will also take part in continuing your legacy to establish a culture of shared destiny among us.

    Miriam Santiago farewell
    Until the very end. Miriam proclaiming her third and final attempt to run for the presidency. Photo credit: Ben Nabong/Rappler
    To the best president that this country never had, salamat! This is our ultimate hugot line for you.

    The Summit Express mourns with the entire nation on the passing of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

    -- Michael Santiago, The Summit Express

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