Miriam: ‘I’ve heard millions of stupid things in the Senate’
MANILA, Philippines – When she's not shaming resource persons for coming unprepared to Senate hearings, or lecturing fellow lawmakers for their ignorance of the law, or making college students giggle over her famous pick-up lines, Miriam Defensor Santiago could be putting together a book.
On Wednesday, December 3, she launched Stupid is Forever, a "collection of jokes, one-liners, pick-up lines, comebacks, and speeches delivered and/or curated by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago" and published by ABS-CBN Publishing.
"I came up with this collection of jokes because sometimes we are being too serious about the issues facing our country today. I think if we laughed more, and took ourselves less seriously, the public debate would be much better," the senator said during the launch at National Bookstore Trinoma.
Asked what was the most stupid thing she had heard in the Senate, she said: "There’s no one stupid thing. There are millions."
Below is her short Q&A with the media right after the launch.
On the size of the crowd
Nakakatuwa dahil nagpapatunay sa sinasabi ko na sa halip na mag-lecture o mag-orate sa taongbayan, kung minsan mas madali pa kung idaan na lang natin sa pabiro, dahil diyan nagkakaintindihan tayo. Tayong mga Pilipino, we have our own sense of humor, we have our own way of cracking jokes.
Kung minsan, kung masyadong seryoso ang tao at akala niya siya lang ang nakakaalam ng lahat ng bagay na kailangang malaman sa debate, mas mabuti pa kung hindi niya masyado pinapataas ang sarili niya, kundi nagpapakumbaba siya doon sa madla para magkaintindihan tayo lahat sa sarili nating kultura.
What’s the most stupid thing you’ve heard in the Senate?
There’s no one stupid thing. There are millions of stupid things I’ve heard in the Senate. But I like one particular answer, the best in the Senate. In the plenary session, there’s always a so-called debate because one person will introduce a bill and another person will question the bill as to its desirability. Sometimes, when a person who is sponsoring a bill is asked a question by another senator and the sponsor does not immediately know the answer, that person will simply say, “That’s a very good question; I like that.”
What are your top 3 pet peeves?
Maybe not top 3, just one: the Senate.
If you can throw a one-liner to Pope Francis, what would it be?
Just to make him laugh, because everybody pulls such a long face when he’s around, everybody pretends to roll his eyes upward, to look very penitential or to look divine. People should put a little bit of humor in the lives of even the Pope.
He has shown by his issuances so far that he has a very progressive trend of thought. Those who have studied theology would know that we are either classified as radicals, conservatives, or progressive. I, personally, for example, would be classified as a progressive, and I think Pope Francis would classify as a progressive as well. I don’t think he will take offense.
On the wedding of Heart Evangelista and Senator Francis Escudero
Hindi siguro ako makakapunta, sinabi ko na, dahil ang kasal nila ay doon sa Balesin Island. Nahihirapan ako magbiyahe sa eroplano kaya nga I haven’t been out of the country for almost a year now. It’s bad for my health.
On her next book
This one was Stupid is Forever. Maybe the next one will be about morons. There’s a difference, you know.
I just want to say that I did not expect na ganito karaming tao ang darating sa ganitong oras, dahil weekday ngayon eh. Miyerkules pa man din, pero sa palagay ko sobra sa isang libo ang dumating ngayon.
This shows any one of the following things: (1) there is a dearth of humor and people appreciate humor; (2) they want politics to lighten up; or (3) they just want pictures to post on Facebook or anywhere else on social media, which is the best way of communicating these days.
Anyone who wants to run for president in 2016 must make sure to use social media in the proper way acceptable to the netizens. Otherwise, they will spurn him notwithstanding that he enters their domain. You have to communicate in a certain way. You don’t just enter social media for your own benefit.
Does the presence of a huge crowd here bolster your resolve to run for president?
Yes and no. Yes, because it shows that I have popular support, and, no, in a way, because I am fully aware of the responsibilities that I will assume. People seem to have very very high expectations of me; it frightens even me. No person can meet all the expectations of all these young people, especially those who played hooky from school today, whom I tried to reprimand but who were faster than me in their repartees.
I’m going to think about it. First of all, I have to get rid of the last few vestiges of cancer. I am in remission, as they say. The cancer is no longer in its original strong state; it is now in a very weak state. Still, I have to be in the best of health if I will be president of the Philippines because there are so many things that have to be done simultaneously.
What is your advice to the unwise, in the context of 'Stupid is Forever'?
The advice is to keep on reading. There are studies about the gains of reading from print and reading from e-books, and it appears that the gains from reading are all to be gained from print instead of e-books. I don’t know if that’s correct or if there’s just some propaganda war going on, but all people should always be encouraged to read.
I did very well in school because we had a free library in my hometown. I used to walk two miles and I had to borrow books under the name of my mother because I was underage. I was supposed to be 12 years old and I started borrowing books when I was only 9 years old. I had to walk back and forth, which entailed some sacrifice on my part. But it was all worth it. I decided when I entered the room that I will finish reading all the books clockwise, and I did. – Rappler.com