Miriam a 'princess' in the hearts of Filipinos - bishop

Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr delivers the homily during the mass for the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

MANILA, Philippines – Miriam Defensor Santiago is a "princess" in Filipinos' hearts, retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr said during the funeral mass for the late former senator on Sunday, October 2.

Bacani, in his homily during the mass, comforted Santiago's family, in particular her husband Narciso "Jun" Santiago Jr.

"Nakita mo siguro ang mga kabataan, nakita mong [nasa] paligid sila na nagsasabi talaga kung gaano kahalaga si Miriam sa ating lahat," he told Jun in his homily for his wife's funeral mass.

(Maybe you have seen all the young ones outside the wake, who spoke of how Miriam is vey important to us.)

Jun earlier said he feels sad that praise is coming in for his wife only now that she is gone.

But Bacani assured the widow that the brilliant and fierce senator, who died Thursday, September 29, will always be remembered for her contributions.

"Miriam is a princess in every Filipino's hearts," the bishop said in Filipno," said the bishop in Filipino. The name Miriam means princess.

"Miriam stands out as a princess. A princess stands out not proudly but with dignity," he added.

Miriam's creed

Bacani also shared parts of his favorite speech of the late senator, who is known for her witty remarks. Santiago, he said, delivered this speech when she was still secretary of agrarian reform. 

"'First, I believe in God. Second, I believe that God is good.' Then thirdly she added, 'And I believe because God is good the good will always win in the end, that the good will always be victorious,'" he said, quoting Santiago. 

The bishop said this creed must have been the driving force of the "graftbuster" to "fight for the good." Bacani emphasized that Santiago's tactic for fighting was to use sharp – but not crass – words. 

"She fought with her lips but you know when she fought with the lips, even when she spoke vitriol against her opponents, she did not drive you to the gutters – she sent you instead to the dictionary or [to] Google to find out the meaning of her words," said Bacani. 

He also noted how the late senator upheld the rule of law.

"While Miriam threatened politicians with jail, she never threatened to kill anybody. And while Miriam prosecuted people, sometimes very fiercely, she wanted the process to be very fair," said Bacani. 

"Yes, that was Miriam – the fighter for the good."

Bacani and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco led the funeral mass for Santiago. Among those present in the mass were former senators Francisco "Kit" Tatad and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Marcos came with wife Lisa and his mother, Ilocos Norte Second District Representative Imelda Marcos.

Actress Heart Evangelista, the former senator's close friend, also came.

Santiago is set to be interred at the Loyola Memorial Park this afternoon. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.