Miriam won. In late 2006, according to Wikipedia, a group of young lawyers nominated her for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But she reportedly gave way to the senior associate justice, saying that she was too young for the post. In 2010 she was reelected, and now she is in the heat of another impeachment trial. When I saw her on TV a few days ago, haranguing the prosecutors, even quarreling with one of the lawyers, I wondered if the inner burden of a dead child in her heart weighed so heavily that she would let her temper erupt so violently, like the volcano that transformed me from a bookseller to a newsman.
Note: I've extracted some information from the following article, which I reprint in full so readers will get a fuller idea of what Miriam had gone through:
Ex-senator Miriam Santiago:
I'm done with politics
Posted:0:14 AM (Manila Time) | Nov. 23, 2003
By Tina Santos and Juliet L. Javellana
Inquirer News Service
"I AM removing myself from politics to fulfill my promise to him."
Former senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago told reporters Friday night that this was the wish of her son Alexander Robert.
Speaking at "AR's" wake at the Christ the King chapel in Greenmeadows subdivision, Quezon City, Santiago said her "baby" had consistently objected to her political career because it gave people "the impression that I'm bad, since I'm always indulging my sense of humor."
At around 8 p.m. on Thursday, AR, who turned 22 on Oct. 2, was found with a gunshot wound in the head inside his room at the family's new home in the posh La Vista subdivision in Quezon City.
Family and friends have flocked to the wake since Friday. And though not exactly AR's favorite people, politicians have come, too, among the first being President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte.
AR didn't like the way politics made things "difficult" and constantly "changed" her, Santiago said. "He believed people should see the real me, my natural personality -- my Ilongga side which is malambing (affectionate)."
The last two and a half years that she'd been out of the public eye -- after her Senate term ended in 2001 and she lost a reelection bid -- brought her closer to her family, especially AR, Santiago said, and for this she was "very grateful."
It has also made it easier for her to accept AR's suicide, she said.
AR is the younger of the ex-senator's two sons by husband Narciso Santiago Jr., former interior undersecretary.
Archie, who is older than AR by 10 years, has been devastated by the incident, according to their mother. "They were very close," she said.
At the wake, Santiago also talked with AR's classmates at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he was a law freshman, describing him as "a perfect son any mother would wish to have."
AR was an "illimitable source of comfort" especially when she underwent "the usual grind of black propaganda and name-calling," she said. "If I were asked to manufacture a child according to my specifications, the result would have been AR. We were really joined at the hip."
She had only happy times with AR, she said, up till the end: "Every night when he came home from school, he would enter my room, and give me a snappy greeting like, 'Yo, woman!' or 'How's my hot babe?' We would talk about his day in school, his classmates ... he would kiss and hug me, he was so malambing."
Even in public, she said, they would hold hands. "He was never embarrassed. People at the market or the mall envied us. We were like a love team, they teased us, because I would hug and kiss him in front of many people."
Like any young man, AR dated, his mother recalled. He once consulted her about making a choice between a girl who lived nearby and another whom he had to make a long detour to fetch.
"I told him it depends, if her value exceeds the amount of gasoline," she laughed.
Santiago was sure he had placed her "above everything else." He would drop everything when she needed company, even to go shopping, Miriam said.
Best of all, she said, they talked. "Oh, how he loved discussion. So he was a child after my own heart. Not everyone wants to discuss philosophy, or Marx versus Hagel ... but he enjoyed that kind of thing. My husband would sometimes complain at the dinner table, saying, 'Go ahead, just talk between the two of you since you ... don't care whether other people understand you or not."'
Among her last discussions with AR, Santiago said, was about turning over her law firm to him when she retired.
The grief that the feisty lawyer and former public official almost succeeded in hiding surfaced when she recounted AR's last few days and their last encounter.
The night before her son took his own life, she recalled, he came into her room looking as if he wanted to say something.
"He did not say it, but I could see it in his eyes," she said. "I saw that he was very tired and I tried to raise his spirits. Instead of kissing me goodnight, he asked me to sit up. I did, and he gave me a very, very tight hug and then said, 'Goodbye mom.' I let that slip ... and that's the last I saw of him."
The following morning, there wasn't the usual sign on his door asking her to wake him up. "He would stick it up on his door with a piece of gum," she recalled, unable to resist a chuckle. And then in the afternoon, at 4 o'clock apparently, he got his father's gun and shot himself in the head."
Because workers had been drilling iron bars onto her windows, she said, the maids did not hear the gunshot. "My husband and I came home after five. We assumed our son was in school and the maids did not tell us (that he never left the house). At 7 p.m., the maids went to call him to dinner. That's when they found him."
Hope never dies
When her husband insisted that she "stay away," Santiago said, she knew it was bad. So she forced herself through AR's door. "He was lying face down in a pool of his own blood and his face was gray. I knew my son was dead, but still I hoped ... hope never dies in a mother's breast."
Archie carried his brother while their father took the wheel and sped off to the East Avenue Medical Center. Santiago was left at home. When her husband called later, he instructed her to "fortify" herself.
She recounted: "I asked, 'Is AR dead?' He said, 'We'll continue to try to revive him.' But I knew it was more of a wish. The whole night I couldn't cry at all. I was in denial, I couldn't accept that he was dead. In the morning, that was when I started to cry." When she finally saw AR inside a coffin on Friday morning, she broke down altogether.
Santiago was certain that AR killed himself because he had received a failing mark in constitutional law. "He took it hard because of me," she said, eyes misting over. She is an acknowledged expert on the subject.
But the young man's anxiety could also have built up from the time that he was denied admission to the University of the Philippines College of Law prior to his enrollment in Ateneo, his mother said.
AR had passed the UP entrance test but failed the oral exam, during which Santiago said her son was asked "cruel" questions.
"He was asked what he thought about the charge of her mother's insanity and how much his father bet on cockfights," she said, shaking her head. "Apparently they (panel interviewers) were no fans of mine."
AR lost confidence in himself and the system as a result, Santiago said. "He had that in his heart, like a big heavy rock."
In his first semester at Ateneo, AR failed the subject of persons and family relations. Santiago said they protested this, but "did not even get the courtesy of a reply." Soon after, he told her he was worried about his grade in constitutional law. "He was afraid that if he had two flunking grades, he might be kicked out. Dean (Joaquin) Bernas (said that) was not the case. But for a person who had been on the dean's list and passed two written exams, I think AR found it unacceptable to flunk twice in a row."
Layers of humiliation
She learned later from AR's classmates that the grades were released in the afternoon of that day she last saw him. They also told her that among those who failed, he took it the hardest. "It was actually layer upon layer of frustration and humiliation that reached an inevitable peak," she said of her son's extreme reaction.
The Santiagos also have adopted twin daughters, Megan and Molly. Without AR, whom she had also called "Toto" or "Hunk," the ex-senator said, the family will never be the same, and the coming holidays "would definitely be a lot different."
She did not feel guilty about AR's suicide, Santiago said. "But for a moment, I had a very strong sense of self-hate. I have an accomplished student record, and maybe my children (thought) they were expected to match this -- if not by me, then by society. Sometimes I also look at my professional career as a curse on my children."
Right now, she said, she was thankful to God for having brought her "so much love" through AR: "There will be a lot of pain because it will take maybe 10, 20 years before I see my son again. But at his level of existence, there is a certain philosophical view that he will not suffer even if we are separated because at that level, time moves at a different pace and his expectation will be that I will be there in a minute, I'm just turning the corner."
Until then, she will take it slow. "I used to have fire in my belly," she sighed. "But now I am numb."