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Sunday, December 07, 2003

(Response by Miram Defensor Santiago at the Funeral Mass for her son ALEXANDER ROBERT SANTIAGO, 22 at Jesu Church, Ateneo Loyola Heights, 0n 23 November 2003)

"HIS DEATH IS A TRIUMPH OF LOVE" ----by: Miriam Defensor Santiago

ALEXANDER ROBERT DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, was born 22 years ago to great rejoicing in our family, for he became our second child, where before we had only one. As a toddler, even from the beginning he proved to be meticulous, always taking care to enunciate carefully every new word. Early in his life, it became clear that he was a gentle soul, for he never raised his voice nor ever raised a hand, and wore his quiet happiness like a soft golden halo.

ALEXANDER ROBERT became known as AR. He finished grade school and high school at Claret School of Quezon City where he made numerous friends and no enemies. As a little boy, he was a champion orator. As a teenager, he learned to be a Christian gentleman whose first thought was always for others, and whose last thought at the end of the day was always of his wise and benevolent Creator. A small portait of a praying Jesus hung beside his study table.

In Ateneo, he chose to major in political science. He had grown into a softspoken, pleasant, handsome young man. I always felt so proud to go out in public with him, but not only for his good looks. His unusual humility and the gentle smile that was always playing on his lips invited the passerby to look twice at this man in the full bloom of youth, who inspired thoughts of a marvelous day and a beautiful world of loving kindness.

Life also rewarded AR. He twice won a place on the Dean's List. When I first leanred that he was receiving such high grades, I exclaimed with understandable maternal joy; but AR, smiling at my antics, placed his finger on his lips and said softly: " Mom, it's not such a big deal."

AR graduated Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and decided to go into Law. He passed the written admission tests for both UP and ATENEO. Ominously, the faculty panel in UP that conducted what should have been routine interview cut him to the quick. Questions like: "What is your reaction to the charge that your mother is insane?" and "How much does your father bet in cockfights.?" He answered politely that it is in the natue of the Philippine Politics today to deliberately inflict falsehood; and that he never knew how much his father bet, becasue as a stress- reducing hobby, it is not considered important enough for discussion in our family.

As AR struggled to keep his own native equanimity, a painful and cruel thing happened. Although he had passed the written exam, the Faculty panel voted to refuse his admission. Maybe they did not like my politics, maybe some faculty members wanted to prove that they could hurt me. Whatever their motives, their cruelty spoke for itself. And maybe eventually it led to my son's decision to seek an honourable death, in a world of incomprehensible adults who seem to thrived on hatred.

AR's father sent a dignified and courteous motion for reconsideration, but the faculty panel did not even bother to give us the courtesy of reply.

AR suffered in silence, and enrolled in Ateneo Rockwell. He loved his old and new friends in Ateneo Law School. Sometimes, he brougth them to our home, so they could study together in the basement. At the end of the semester, he buckled down and studied for the finals. The grades began to be released. In some subjects; like Labor Law, he received high grades. In Person and Family Relations, he received an unjustified low grades, in the sense that a comparison of his blue book and that of the highest student showed that they had similar answers to three questions. But whereas the highest student received full points for his answers, AR received no points at all for his answers. So, he and I started to work on a petition for change of grade.

Then last week, the professor made a late submission of grades for Constitutional Law. The professor reportedly gave many students, including AR, a failing grade. I have not seen AR'S blue book. But earlier, the same professor had filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of the impeachment process against the chief justice. On the request of media, as former professor of Constitutional Law in UP for nearly 10 years, I issued a written statement pointing out, among others, that the petitioners were not real parties in interest, and may have filed the petitions out of a desire to win appointment to the Supreme Court. I later learned that AR's professor in Constitutional Law was considered a candidate for just such an appointment. However, I might be wrong.

Every night, the moment he arrived home from school, AR would quickly bound up the steps, stride into my bedroom, sit on my bedside, chat in the ususl jocular fashion, and then kiss me goodnight. Sometimes, he would even jump on my bed and take a nap. On that occsion, he lifted me up, gave me a very tight hug, and said:

"Good-bye, Mom", I did not notice anything amiss.

The next day, AR did not go to school. Instead, in the afternoon, he took his own life. At dinnertime, when he did not appear, the maids found him in his room, lying in a pool of blood. When Jun, Archie, and I rused to his room with our hearts in our mouths, we knew he was dead. As former trial judge, I had seen too many shots of death to be wrong. I kissed him while my heart burst with grief, and all the Love in God's creation were contained in that last MOTHER's kiss to a dead child. The heroic doctors failed to revive him.

(continued on the next blog............)

posted by infraternam meam @ 4:19 AM  
About Me

Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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