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Miriam Defensor Santiago

Miriam Defensor Santiago 04Miriam Defensor-Santiago (born Miriam Palma Defensor on June 15, 1945) is a Filipina lawyer, politician, and a Senator of the Philippines, with a focus on Constitutional Law. She is the founder and current leader of the People’s Reform Party as well as its former presidential candidate.

Santiago was born in Iloilo City, Iloilo to District Judge Benjamin A. Defensor and Dimpna Palma Defensor. In her youth, she graduated as class valedictorian in both elementary and high school levels. She graduated her secondary at Iloilo High School (now Iloilo National High School).

Despite a three-month bout with illness, Santiago attended the University of the Philippines in Diliman. There she continued to participate and excel in numerous oratorical, public speaking, and debate contests. She became the first female editor-in-chief of the university’s student newspaper, The Philippine Collegian and was twice made Corps Sponsor of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Her classmates include the likes of former Senate President Franklin Drilon, San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora, and Eli Pamatong.

In 1965, Santiago graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. It took her only three and a half years to complete her degree. Upon graduation, she was elected to the Pi Gamma Mu and Phi Kappa Phi international honor societies.

Miriam took the 1969 Bar Exams and passed with a 78% Bar rating. Santiago decided to teach Political Science to undergraduates at Trinity College of Quezon City.

She then attended the University of Michigan Law School from 1974 to 1976, earning the degrees of Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science.

Santiago continued enrolling in short courses, attending seminars and participating in conferences locally and abroad. In 1995, at the age of fifty, she completed the academic requirements for a Master of Arts in Religious Studies at the Maryhill School of Theology with an average grade of 1.25. In 1996, at the age of fifty-one, she attended the Summer Program of Instruction for Lawyers at Harvard Law School. In 1997, at age fifty-two, she attended the Summer Program in Law at Oxford University.

When she lost in the Senate race of 2001, she worked on updating her law and political science textbooks, which were later released in 2002.

In 1986, Santiago was recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Professionals of the Philippine Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1988, she was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the local equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

In 1996, The Australian Magazine ranked Santiago 69th among “The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World”, sharing the honor with former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos who ranked 58th.

Santiago is married to Narciso Yap Santiago Jr., her former classmate at the University of the Philippines. Narcisco was once an undersecretary for Interior and Local Governments, and is currently a presidential adviser for revenue enhancement. He is also a businessman.

Santiago’s brother, Benjamin Jr., is a retired general who served as Philippine Air Force commander and Armed Forces Chief of Staff. He is currently an ambassador-at-large for counter-terrorism. Two of her cousins are congressmen. Matias Defensor represents the third district of Quezon City, where Santiago resides, and Arthur Defensor represents the third district of Iloilo, Santiago’s hometown. Santiago’s nephew, Michael Defensor, is a former presidential chief of staff who ran and lost in a Senate seat in the 2007 elections.

Other Information

  • Name : Miriam Defensor-Santiago
  • Birthday : June 15, 1945
  • Birthplace : Iloilo City, Philippines
  • Residence : Quezon City
  • Political party : People’s Reform Party (1992-present)
  • Schools Attended :
    • Secondary education, Valedictorian, Iloilo High School (now Iloilo National High School)
    • Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, magna cum laude, University of the Philippines in Diliman (1965)
    • Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science, University of Michigan Law School (1974 to 1976)
    • Master of Arts in Religious Studies, Maryhill School of Theology (1995)
    • Summer Program of Instruction for Lawyers, Harvard Law School (1996)
    • Summer Program in Law at Oxford University (1997)
  • Father : Benjamin A. Defensor
  • Mother : Dimpna Palma Defensor
  • Spouse : Narciso Y. Santiago, Jr.
  • Profession : Lawyer; Politician
  • Religion : Roman Catholic

One Comment

  1. Excel in Law School says:

    Nothing beats Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. She’s witty and so wise.

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