On October 1, 2016, University of the Philippines Vanguards (UPVgd) gave a simple but heartfelt tribute called Luksang Parangal to the best president the Philippines never had, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Senator Santiago was a corps sponsor of the UP-Diliman Batch 1969 and of UP-Visayas. The Luksang Parangal was their way of showing their last respects and utmost gratitude to the woman who embodied what it is to be a member of the UP Corps of Sponsors and ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps).
Luksang Parangal started with the singing of Hail to the Corps and UP Beloved, the last time that Senator Santiago will hear these songs that became parts of her student life at the University of the Philippines. Some chosen members of the UP Vanguards narrated their personal experiences with the feisty senator when she was younger to a private gathering at The Cathedral Grottos of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City. One of them said that Santiago was a rock star senator who did not waver from the UP Vanguards’ mantra of “Duty. Honor. County.” A younger member of the UP Vanguards related that the woman known as the “Iron Lady of Asia” inspired the younger generation to be like her. She is the ultimate role model for her untarnished service and unparalleled sacrifice.
Senator Santiago’s younger sister, Nenalyn, spoke in behalf of the Defensor-Santiago family. She opened by saying that Senator Santiago “is always imitated but never equaled.”
She said that the Defensor family believed that the younger Miriam had brains but was questionable in the beauty department. Having a taller and more beautiful younger sister just added to the Miriam’s pressure of being called beautiful. Being chosen as the corps sponsor cemented her status as the other sister with “beauty and brains”. That made the UP Vanguards and UP Corps of Sponsors special in Miriam’s heart.
Nenalyn added that Senator Santiago was a dutiful person. Once she was given a duty, she took it seriously. To her, being chosen as the corps sponsor was not a beauty title but a leadership role. That leadership role extended until after college and law school to the halls of the Senate and even inside the car. Senator Santiago scolded everybody, especially those who put up huge billboards that say “Project of So-and-So”. The senator was fuming mad when she said that how dare these people use propaganda if the ones they called projects were taken from the tax of the people. Nenalyn said that, “even in the car, she corrected people. That is my sister in a nutshell.” She ended her speech by saying that their family is in grief, but the outpouring of support from the Filipinos touched their hearts greatly.
Thank you to my brother and the rest of his Vanguard comrades for letting me tag along. Special thanks to Pats and Joan for letting me use their photos on this entry.