How to hold an audience: Santiago gives surefire tips


Start with a joke, keep it short, and leave ‘em laughing.

That, according to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, is the secret to getting a big turnout and keeping an audience interested.

Santiago, who isn’t even running for office, has remained the most sought after public speaker today and that’s because of her humorous speeches, said Tom Tolibas, the senator’s media coordinator.

“It’s both the jokes and her deadpan style of delivering the punchline. Her timing is very professional, and nobody can come close to her ad libs. That’s her real and patented secret,” Tolibas said.

At a gathering of some 3,000 participants at a convention for entrepreneurs on March 1, Santiago played to the crowd by starting her speech with her signature jokes.

“It has been confirmed. I am sick,” the senator said. “This disease compels me to become more beautiful as I grow older. But don’t worry, the disease is not infectious. Unfortunately, I will never be cured.”

The crowd roared its approval, scoring another hit for the senator whose reputation for playing up her looks in her jokes precedes her.

Santiago said her speeches were successful because “they are short, humorous and, as much as possible, inspirational.”

And that was just for starters.

As soon as she had her audience’s full attention, the senator launched into the main points of her speech, which was gender equality at that gathering on March 1, the start of International Women’s Month.

Santiago gave a masterful analysis of gender equality and told her audience that the value of entrepreneurship lay in its being an option for poor unemployed women.

She ended her speech with a scathing attack against political dynasties, and a message of hope by reciting the first stanza of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a poem written by Julie Ward Howe.

As she stepped off the stage, Santiago was besieged by screaming fans requesting a photo opportunity with her. As always, security guards had to pluck her from the crowd.

She shrugged off the adulation. “Another day at the office,” she told reporters when asked how she felt about being mobbed.

Santiago, a champion debater at the University of the Philippines during her student days, has been on a speaking tour of the country since 1992, when she ran for, and almost won, the presidency. Her work week, she said, has always included at least one speech, most often on a university campus.

The senator had to refuse invitations to Bangkok, Thailand, and Doha, Qatar, because she is still unfit to travel abroad, according to her social secretary, Sandy Schala.

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  • mabyrik

    Let’s admit it, whether you love her or hate her, she is a damned good speaker. She reminds me of how poor I was as an elocutionist when I was in HS. I always ended up as the worst speaker in all the declamation contests I participated in. And yes, I am still a bad speaker up to now.

    And I must admit, I am affected by her eloquence, for good and for bad.

    When she ran for president, I ignored the Brenda tag, I still voted for her. 

    But after that, specially during Erap’s impeachment trial, my admiration for her was translated to hatred. Like when she berated the 2 ladies in the crowd watching the trial who, according to her, looked at her menacingly. Then I began to ask myself-“Is Miriam really Brenda”. 

    Then came Corona’s trial. Miriam was so eloquently nasty to everyone who wanted Corona’s head that I wrote many times in PDI, “Hey, is this the person who will sit as a judge in ICC? Will her presence in ICC provide justice in that prestigious Hall of Justice?” 

    But times have changed. When Lacson called her a “Crusading Crook”, I called Lacson “Shameless Crook” in defense of her when Miriam attacked Enrile  and Lacson made sawsaw to protect Enrile. As everyone knows, Enrile had a hand why Lacson had successfully evaded arrest after a warrant of arrest was issued for past crime. “Scratch my back and I ‘ll scratch yours”, said Lacson.

    Now, the senate is again in hot spot with Enrile at the center of it. The pork barrels of Enrile, Jinggoy and Revilla were reported to had been channeled to a bogus NGO. This latest issue is going to take the spotlight in this election and I’m sure Miriam will use this a the main “pulutan” in her speaking sorties. Ah, I can’t wait to hear her again.

  • TinimbangNgunitKulang

    Somebody should conduct a probe if this crazy senatong is using her pork barrel for payolas to media writers. This article is very obviously a PR job to repair her irreparable image. Maybe to remind the ICC which would rather prefer to forget it had anything to do with her?

  • EdgarEdgar

    Superb sense of humor. Superb timing. Killer legs. The tender loving sweetness of a sweet Ilongga. Senator Miriam, keep them coming.

    • 12JEM

       Love or hate her….But her favorite fecipient of her PDAF is the PHILIPPINE GENERAL HOSPITAL.

  • melbourne333

    Senator Miriam like it or not is an irreplaceable mouthpiece in the political landscape currently.
    She speaks her mind out and lets the public decide on the merits of the topic.

  • Manny Alcantara

    If you are a controversial or a famed weird celebrity, no skills required to attract listeners to whatever is going to be said. 

  • Denzel Boksingero

    Masyadong OA na pag mag joke pa si Miriam. She’s already a joke!

  • wazgoingon

    What ever happened to disclosures you said you’ll make on Senators Enrile and Lacson?  Was that a joke too?

    • marivon

       Unfortunately I think it was one of her jokes to expose the sins of her colleagues.


    OVER-RITID.  Kurni juks…..condescending and patronizing laughter are more of derision than anything else.  What’s really funny is the way she looks..thick lips like Rey of the Reycard duet and hair that looks like one of the the 3 stooges… and her delivery of words- English or Tagalog- ala Elizabeth Ramsey.  Now that’s  really funny! :)

  • Simplify1

    Nandito pa pala sa Pilipinas an lokang eto! 

  • Weder-Weder Lang

    Katawa-tawa or nakakatawa, Senator Santiago’s self-deprecating humor shows a person who is not full of herself and can even make fun of herself. She’ll be fondly missed when she leaves for The Hague.

  • kurakut


  • Philcruz

    And this is why Enrile will never accept a debate challenge from Miriam. Nor will Enrile ever be an in-demand campus speaker. He will have to resort to chaining his audience to their seats. Chains are expensive.

  • virgoyap

    Brenda, you’re becoming wiser now with your jokes. You’re very different now than during the impeachment trial of Corona where you are too serious and was acting like a kontrabida and when you stand to speak I will hold on my seat feeling furious.

  • MaySenseBa

    The crowd roared its approval…
    Hindi na to “masa” crowd.  Like the ballet audience who applauded her when she entered?  Last time I saw Miriam, I stared her down and almost threw up after I did.  

    This country is full of idiots from Class A down to XYZ.

    • JoyVi

      wala kang sense.

      • MaySenseBa

        How original.  I’m betting you love Miriam right?

  • rjgc

    I was only fourteen when I first first witnessed Miriam in a lengthy interview in a TV show called Mongolian Barbecue. It was December 1990, nearly a year after she was ousted as DAR secretary by Cory Aquino. It was not yet the presidential elections, but she was leading the surveys. Man did she hold me spellbound. I was enraptured or bewitched. I had not liked her looks in the news; but this time it was more close-up, and she spoke rapid-fire and very smartly. Her conviction, her articulateness melted my heart. I think I was a word buff at the time–I loved studying new words. And some of the words I was learning were being mentioned by Miriam. So there, I was very impressed. I later learned she was very studious and devoted as a student, so I also tried to become serious in my studies. I considered her and Ninoy Aquino as my role models.

    Well, of course, I  grew up and moved on to other things. Miriam’s politics changed in the course of time. I did not always agree on her stand on political issues. I did not always like the political alliances she made. But, yes, once upon a time, for a reason only youth can fathom, Miriam inspired me to improve my English. For that, I am most thankful.

  • i_am_filipino

    I really love her. Strong, smart, Godfearing, a mother, a grandma, natural, spontaneous. Her husband must be very very lucky.

  • Kareen Grace Lacorte

    The only ‘real intellect’ in the Senate..and probably in Philippine politics..

  • Ro

    Daming inggitero sa baba… di nyo kasi kaya ang ginawa ni Mirriam… Wala ba kayong pader sa bahay nyooooo………Alam nyo na kung anu gawin nyo kung meron…

  • Alleah

    the Best President we will NEVER have.. =(

    • romeyo chill

      why never?

  • Jolly Bee

    hmmm.. i like miriam very much…  strong woman and intelligent.. 

  • EREC

    THUMPS UP ako diyan MADAM SENATOR!!! Wish you all the best!!! iyan po lagi sabi sa akin…. kaya sinasabi konarin po sayo, Hope you can finish last tenure as senator of the republic and ALWAYS MAKE FRUITFUL IMPACT in senate floor, lalo na po itong salasalabat nating batas na protectahan ang tahimik na mamayan laban sa mga kriminals, to penalized them. My gratitude comments to come once you finish your tenure as senador…. I felt that Aquino administration will support you in your final distination in your whole life career.


    >>>Start with a joke, keep it short, and leave ‘em laughing.<<<

    SEEING her is olredi a juk!  I olredi laf win I see her…then when she spiks, i laf sam mur bicos shi is rili fani!  Especially wen shi toks in Tagalog wid werds layk paaralan, aklat, mag-aaral, etc….. rimaynds mi of Balagtas.  Shi is rili fani….no dawt abawt it, gid!

  • Ro

    PUR honor nahigitan mo na ba ang narating ni Mirriam?

  • hustlergalore

    in fairness, tama si tulfo ng sabihin niyang magaling magpakiliti ng audience si miriam.

    pero nakalimutan din niyang magaling magpanggap si miriam. LOL

  • curatolo

    Magaling talaga sya magbuhat ng sariling bangko!!!!

  • Taiko_Kauna

    while she’s all talk, some  are still hungry, what has she done?

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