Of first impressions and legacies: Remembering Leticia Ramos-Shahani

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 27 2017 11:11 PM | Updated as of Mar 28 2017 12:55 AM

Former senator Leticia Ramos Shahani. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- A veteran lawmaker and diplomat, the late former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani has been described by lawmakers and her colleagues as the model of the Filipino woman.

From being a sister to former president Fidel Ramos, to being a mother, advocate, and lawmaker, “Manang Letty,” as what she was commonly known, made sure that her voice was heard in all the issues she cared about.

Following her passing, Leticia’s colleagues and family look back on her legacy and work as a public official.

Senator Franklin M. Drilon (left) and Senate President Pro-Tempore Leticia Ramos Shahani (center) together with Senator Loren Legarda (right) Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (2nd from right) and the former senator’s daughter, Lila Ramos Shahani (2nd from left). File photo/Alex Nueva España, Senate PRIB, NPPA

AS A LAWMAKER

Former senator Orly Mercado recalled how Leticia loved to debate with him during their stint in the senate.

“She had a very methodical way of bringing in out her arguments because she did her research. She did her homework,” Mercado said on ANC’s “Talkback.”

He added that even if he knew of Leticia’s advocacy, it was only during their time at the senate that he realized her acumen.

“I did not see the whole breadth of her capacity until we were in the senate,” he said.

AS A BOSS

For Prospero De Vera, former executive director of the Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development Foundation (PLCPD) of which Leticia is founding chair, the late senator would always be remembered as someone who works hard to seek solutions.

“She always told her staff, ‘Do not tell me the problem. Tell me the solution,'” De Vera said.

He said the late senator showed strength in her capability to accept failure simply as a normal part of life.

“To her, failure was just another stage, and she moved on and would continue to do the things she needed to do,” he said.

De Vera added that Leticia has not been given enough credit for her work, saying that it was under her helm when the first version of what would become the Reproductive Health Law was drafted in 1993, with “population management” as a popular term back then.

De Vera also agreed with Mercado that Leticia did love to debate and made sure that she argued her point clearly.

“She loved to debate. She liked debating with academicians,” he said.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Leticia Ramos Shahani (left) and Senator Loren Legarda pose for media on 10 June 2015. Photo courtesy of the Office of Sen. Legarda

AS A MOTHER
But while Leticia’s colleagues loved her fiery passion for her advocacy, the late senator’s daughter Lila Shahani felt otherwise as a child.

Lila recalled how as a child, she developed a feeling of resentment towards her mother’s advocacy—both locally and international, because it took a lot of her mother’s time for them.

“I think that when I was a child, I actually resented the Philippines and her international advocacy because they took so much of my mom’s time from her family,” she said in a phone interview on ANC.

She said it was not easy to grow up with Leticia as her mother since the late senator never ran out of passion projects to work on.

Lila said she only understood and truly appreciated her mother’s work when she became a government worker as well.

“She was the point of reference. She did not let other people be the points of reference to whom she would react,” she said.

Now that her mother has passed away, Lila says she is more relieved than mournful.

“I feel quite relieved that my mother is finally relieved from pain… I’m not grieving, I feel free,” she said. 

Asked on how Leticia would probably be remembered best, Mercado said different people would have different memories of her but for him Leticia’s integrity would always be her best legacy.

“It is the integrity by which she did her public service, that is her legacy for me,” he said.

The remains of the late senator were cremated on Monday afternoon at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque. She passed away Monday last week at the age of 87.