Defining MDS
Stefan Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - This week, we lost Miriam Defensor Santiago. We lost her at a time when critical thinking is in dire straits. We lost her at a time when women, even those in power, have been stifled, seen by the government as secondary. We lost the first female editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian at a time when cries against the “bias media” have been taking precedence over the truth. We lost not just a political rock star and aspirational figure, but one of the most vigilant gadflies to ever hover above this one-carabao town.

She was not patient, nor was she kind (and she would’ve hated this overused reference being scribbled into this mediocre excuse for an elegy), but her undying love for the law and the state resonated like her booming utterances in the session hall. Miriam contained multitudes and contradictions which may never be precisely quantified in the 1,007 bills and more than 30 books she wrote in her 71 years of existence. Was she the Mariah Carey of privilege speeches? I certainly learned many a colorful jargon in her queenly discourses as I have in the revered diva’s anthems.

Hot B***** in charge

Miriam was the HBIC we basic b*tches never had. She had been the true-to-life Olenna Tyrell before George R. R. Martin even put pen to paper. When cynicism would decide to rear its head and take over our collective consciousness, she was invariably the first political figure to charm us with her candor, delivering one humorous sucker punch to her opponents after another. In an alternate universe, she would have had her own late night show that pushed Leno and Letterman to bankruptcy. Heck, she was the only one who could pull off using pick-up lines at graduation speeches.

Though she tried to humanize herself through wit, it was far from a successful political tactic. People wanted her to stay poised on the pedestal — pearls, pantsuit, hairsprayed coif and all — with one foot placed on the ground. She lost the third presidential race she ran, much like in 1998 and 1992 (after which she was branded “Brenda”, a then-slang for brain damage because, apparently, women can’t possibly feel righteous indignation without going completely insane) merely because she wanted everybody to get on her intellectual level instead of pandering to popular opinion.

Miriam Defensor Santiago was a self-made woman who wrote pro-women and pro-LGBT policies while remaining the sturdiest brick in the constitutional wall. She was the Iron Lady Imelda Marcos could only dream of embodying, and she flew away leaving the world a light year less astute. There will be ample time to judge her political lapses, but words can only do so much justice to one of the premier alagad ng batas. Just remember that when good men did nothing in order for evil to triumph, there once was a woman who ate death threats for breakfast.

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Tweet the author @Watdahel_Marcel.

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