Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, recently announced in a press conference that she has stage 4 cancer of the left lung.
Even the way she said it had a certain sense of flair: “Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce myself to you as the only senator who has been diagnosed with lung cancer.”
Watch her speech here:
Santiago’s cancer makes her breathing difficult. But she also shared it is not spreading and can be cured within 6 months of medication. She will also be undergoing chemotherapy. “I don’t know what the reactions of my enemies are,” she said. “Maybe they will be happy because on one hand, I might die, and then they could get rid of me. But on the other hand, I might survive and then I will get rid of them.”
Apart from her witty, humorous, and memorable speeches, what else do we know about the lady senator? We’ve compiled some of the most remarkable, touching and funny facts about her:
1. She is the eldest of seven children.
Her father was a judge, and her mother, a retired college dean. Her mother had taken masters in child psychology.
2. As a child, she wanted to become a scientist, because she wanted to play with chemicals.
She also wanted to be an inventor.
3. She found childhood games like “bahay-bahayan” ridiculous.
4. She fought back against bullies.
In an article published in the November 2011 issue of Esquire Philippines, Miriam reveals just how much she loves her books, she would fight for them.
“One time, my best friend and I were walking hand in hand, carrying our school bags, and one guy came barreling down the road. My friend and I were forced to let go of each other’s hand, and he purposely bumped into me and I almost fell! I dropped all my books—and you know I had a book at that time that I really loved. I think it was my book on history. I really loved that book for some reason and I lost my temper so I ran after him! I grabbed him by the collar—his comrades were already all running away—turned him around and hit him! I hit him right in his solar plexus. So he fell on the ground and then I kicked him! 'That should teach you!' Then all the other boys came, and all my own friends came, and then he got up and he said, 'I am going to get back at you.' And I said, 'You try!'"
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5. She was a master orator in grade school up to college.
6. She was a swimming champ in high school.
7. She was the campus beauty in college, and she liked to date every Friday night.
She particularly liked dating boys with cars.
8. She was the first female editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian.
9. Despite having such accomplished parents, they were not a well-off family.
She therefore helped fund the education of her siblings.
10. She has been married to her husband, former Interior Undersecretary Narciso “Jun” Santiago, for over 40 years.
11. She has two adopted daughters and two biological sons, one of whom took his own life at age 22 in November 2003. It was reported that the suicide was the result of being pressured to excel in his studies just like his mother.
12. She breastfed their children.
13. She did not fit the mold of a typical mother.
In an interview with People Asia magazine, she shared, “One time I was in the library when the dinner bell rang. I didn’t notice because I was busy trying to finish something. So, as was the family rule, they started eating ahead of me. If a family member has been notified that he’s late, then everybody gets to eat early. When I came out, my two children (sons Narciso III and Alexander Robert) were not speaking to me as a person but as a thing. They were saying, ‘It’s coming out. It’s coming to the dinner table. It’s eating.’ By this kind of humor I began to realize how alienated I was from my family. I tried to become more accommodating of my relationships with others.”
14. She describes herself as a very affectionate mother.
She loved to hug and kiss her kids.
15. She likes cooking.
Her specialty is Ilonggo cuisine.
16. She enjoys renovating their home, and she has a penchant for the French-Italian look.
She likes going to flea markets to find unique pieces for their house.
17. She has a private library wherein she has a quarter of her 1 million books, all of which she has read and “catalogued” in her mind.
Her favorite genre is historical fiction.
18. She works out.
She does weights, crunches, and runs on the treadmill for 45 minutes to an hour.
19. She doesn’t like getting made up or dressing up, and she’s not fond of hand bags.
She has a niece do the styling for her. She considers it torture to go to the salon.
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20. She has four granddaughters, whom she spends time with on Sundays.