Thank you, Manang Letty, and goodbye



LETICIA Ramos-Shahani I had not known from Eve. Then, I learned in late December 1985, that while in the diplomatic service of the powerful Marcos administration, she was endorsing underdog candidate Cory Aquino, almost two months before brother FVR was to see the light.

I was to learn more of her later.

Manang attended UP, Wellesley and Columbia.

So far, she is the only Pinoy I heard say “august,” accent on the second syllable, when not used as the month. This “august” chamber is often misspoken here.

In 1985-86, it was my pleasant task as Cory spokesperson to announce that Manang, then with the administration, was joining us. She defected on December 28, 1985, when our chances looked dim. How gutsy and principled of her.

It was only a few days later, after a rousing Manila Hotel speech by Cory, that I personally got convinced that our seemingly mad adventure had a fighting chance. Yes, there was the risk of winning! Doy Laurel had sacrificed and slid down to Veep and Cory-Doy sold like hotcakes. People Power with Divine Intervention was on.

When I, a naive tyro, once walked out of the Senate, very early on, and went home, she was among those who took the trouble to come to console me, along with Uncle Jovy Salonga and Manong Bert Romulo. Senator Raul Manglapus called. A fine bunch, urging me in effect to say no to snake eyes, but to cool it and take it easy, and live and learn, even if my integrity were questioned. My opinions, anyone could question and ridicule, but not my integrity. But, ang mapikon, talo, they told Balat-Sibuyas Me.

In our back row then, to my left was Manong Bert, of Universidad Central de Madrid. Across the aisle was Manang Letty, of Wellesley and the Sorbonne, and farther to the right, next to her was Harvard Man Bobby Tanada. All hardworking.

Manang voted a critical “Yes” in 1991 on the bases, differing with us, the so-called Magnificent 12 who thought the time had come to end our status as America’s Last Plantation (some insist today we were the Malevolent or Maleficent 12 but we remain convinced we voted on the right side of history). When EDCA was enacted bypassing the Senate, with the poignancy of a recantation, Manang joined us in various fora, in protest.

The Pearl of the Orient Seas has just lost another gem or jewel.

Thank you, Manang, and good-bye.


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