By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Reporter

The wit and humor of Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Posted on June 26, 2015

BOOK REVIEW Stupid is Forevermore by Miriam Defensor-Santiago

IT IS OLD HABIT for Filipinos to poke fun at politicians, but rarely do we see such snide remarks printed in books and becoming best-sellers.

But we are talking of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who has come up with a follow-up to her first book, Stupid is Forever, which was released barely half a year ago.

Stupid is Forevermore is such a breeze to read as it merely compiles the senator’s notable quips from her many speeches and media interviews dating back to the 1990s. A sizeable part of the book details her frustrations in working in the Senate, where she has served three terms in office despite describing it as her “one pet peeve.”

Trust the veteran lawmaker and legal expert to deliver a probing walkthrough of a life spent working in government, complete with cunning commentary, divulging the dirtiest tricks that her colleagues -- specifically, one “fungus-faced” solon -- have tried to pull.

Ms. Defensor-Santiago weaves her power to convert letdowns into humor with her hard-hitting comebacks that leave readers shaking in fits of laughter.

The book is timely, with anecdotes from the Senate’s probe into the deadly Mamasapano encounter which caused a stir just this January and which continues to haunt Congress as a looming ghost over the proposed Bangsamoro law being heard by both chambers.

Jokes on the pork barrel scam -- for which three of her colleagues (including her so-called mortal enemy) are now in jail -- can also be found in some chapters of the new book. As in the first one, the senator’s disgust bleeds through the entire second book. She goes as far as to prod her fellow lawmakers to commit mass harakiri to atone for the multibillion-peso scandal.

She turns her feisty humor on other topics: the country’s justice system, the graft-ridden Immigration bureau which she used to head, and, yes, even her stage-four lung cancer.

Pinoys are not known for taking criticism well, so people often resort to humor to soften the blow. Such is Senator Miriam’s style.

Offensive as they may be, her attacks are well-placed as these are backed by her intellect and ready wit. None can cross her -- if anyone dares, they would most likely find a wisecrack or two dedicated to them in a third book, assuming another is coming.

The senator’s repertoire of jokes also take a swipe at the day-to-day pains of life, peppered with her trademark pick-up and take-down lines to get people through. The book is equally generous with advice on dealing with death threats and ways to challenge enemies to a fistfight, with a wide selection of nasty names to use.

The book does touch on the more serious side of things, with excerpts of her inspirational talks for new graduates. These delve into the meaning of life and on serving the country, which elevates the book above simple comedy. Perhaps, this is the senator’s cure for the “stupidity” she sees everywhere.

Such passages are penciled in between chapters of silly banter, with the senator lending some of her wise words for readers to contemplate before plunging into yet another set of witticisms. Better not to be ignorant than risk be called -- as the senator puts it -- “discombobulated moral retardates!”

Admittedly, some jokes are not new. But what makes it novel is for readers to picture how and why the senator said them. It might come in handy for those who encounter as many foes as her.

Readers have to thank Ms. Defensor-Santiago for doing what perhaps she only can: uncovering the evils of Philippine politics from within, making everyone take notice, and demanding urgent response to make things right -- doing it all with well-crafted humor that forces people to look the problem in the face.

A word of caution: if it’s politics that you are running away from, think twice before picking up this book. But then again, it is such a thrill to see someone from the government turning against their own.