To this day, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is regarded with awe, respect and admiration. Throughout her 71 years of life, she has been a steadfast, strong woman with a fiery personality and a big heart. Standing for truth and integrity was no easy task in her industry, but even more admirable was her commitment to protecting the Filipino woman – and in doing this, enriching the people as a nation. Among many others, here are the top ten times Senator Miriam stood up to the patriarchy and broke boundaries for Filipinas everywhere
1. Since childhood, Miriam was already quite the child prodigy. Just look at her in this undated photo captioned “First place, Oratorical contest” – already making waves at such a young age.
2. More than just a straight-A student, she was a girl with multiple talents, and more than a few surprises up her sleeve for anyone who doubted what she could do. Miriam was the winner in a provincial swimming competition, a Spelling Bee champion and the editor-in-chief of her high school paper for four years.
3. She also blazed a trail for women, especially when it came to proving that women can do just as well as men in any field. While studying in UP Diliman, she topped the written examinations and was appointed as the university newspaper’s first female editor-in-chief, breaking a record of 50 years of male dominance.
- No matter what she had on her plate, Miriam was able to handle it all and still come out on top – and by that, we mean consistently on top of her class.
- We think it’s fair to mention that her life wasn’t without struggles. When she took the Bar Exams in 1969, she got a 78% average grade, which dismayed her – but in no way did she let it get her down. She even resorted to higher learning to boost her credentials, opting to attend the University of Michigan for her Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science degrees.
- As evidenced all throughout her life, Miriam has always had a deep love for knowledge. But like every woman, she’s also always had a strong love for family. It may surprise some people to know that Miriam wanted to be a nun or a writer at the time she was choosing her career. Instead, she knew she had to help support her family as the eldest daughter, and turned to law school instead. That’s her in the (very stylish) striped shirt and white shorts.
- She’s also a hands-on mother and wife, and a caring lola. Just look at this photo with her delightful bunch of grandkids:
- More than anything else, we are grateful to her for being a beacon to Filipinas everywhere. She is the author of the Magna Carta of Women and co-author of the Reproductive Health Law. She has also written and filed multiple bills advocating women’s rights, including the proposed Child Support Act, the Safe Haven Bill, and the Battered Women’s Testimony Bill, among many others. Truly, Senator Miriam advocated feminism long before it was cool, and was fighting for – and instituting – women’s rights before leaning in was even a thing.
- And of course, she strove for the highest position in the Philippines not once, but three times – something which undoubtedly took guts, confidence and unwavering faith, especially in this year’s elections, where she did it despite any discomfort and struggle caused by her illness.
- And finally, Senator Miriam is one of the most recognized and admired women in the world. While we know that inequality is still alive in the Philippines today, she taught us that women are capable of making a change. Senator Miriam proved that a woman can do anything, and set an example for all Filipinas to be resilient, to strive for our goals, and to do what we can to uplift Filipino women everywhere.
Rest in peace, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and may your legacy live on.