Sen. Bam Aquino’s speech during necrological service for Former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani

Senate President Pimentel, the former Senate Presidents here, my colleagues former and current members of the Senate, distinguished colleagues, of course, the members of the Ramos and Shahani families, mga kaibigan, mga kababayan, magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.

Before anything else, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the loved ones of former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani.

The country has lost another brilliant and emphatic legislator, public servant and advocate.

Today, the Senate of the Philippines and everyone gathered here mourns the passing of an esteemed Filipina who served the Philippines as a diplomat, a lawmaker and an educator.

I am deeply humbled to be speaking before you today as we remember her legacy and embed her ideals within our hearts.

My first memory of Tita Letty was back in 1987, when a 9-year old Bam Aquino joined the campaign for the Lakas ng Bayan slate many of whom are still here.

Who could forget her catchy jingle? I would say one of the most famous and best political jingles ever. “Sha, sha, sha, Letty Ramos siya.”

Who could forget that jingle? I think it is embedded in all of our minds until today.

I may not have known it then, but today, more than ever, we realize the significance of electing a true advocate for women’s rights and gender equality into the Philippine Congress.

Even before she served as a senator, Letty Ramos-Shahani was already a champion for women in the Philippines and all around the world, serving as assistant secretary general for social development and humanitarian affairs in the United Nations from 1981 to 1986.

She was co-author of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and was given the chairmanship of the UN Commission on Women and the National Commission on the Role of the Filipino Women in 1987. Thankfully, she took her zeal from the United Nations into the Senate of the Philippines where she passed legislation that, in her words, “contributed much to raising the status of women in our country.”

In her two terms serving as a senator, she authored, among others, the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 and the Shahani Law – which strengthens the fight against gender discrimination among others.

More than just exhaustive pieces of paper signed by our country’s leaders, these laws have made a real and palpable impact on the lives of Filipinas and, in fact, every Filipino.

Just last year, our country ranked as the world’s seventh most gender-equal society, number one in Asia according to the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Gender Gap Report – a great achievement for our country, thanks in part to the contributions of the fierce women’s advocate who is Tita Letty.

And though there is still a lot of work to be done to rid our country of discrimination and to truly achieve social equity among Filipinos, I am grateful for the foundation laid down by Tita Letty.

Many regard the 8th and 9th Congresses, spanning the late 80s to early 90s, as a bright spot in Philippine legislation.

Personally, members of this batch many of whom are here today serve as my personal heroes.

For many of us who have come after this esteemed batch of senators, we feel deep gratitude for many of them because they charted the course that many of us are leading today.

May Tita Letty’s excellence, her experience, and her grace inspire and encourage more Filipinos to break through glass ceilings, and push our country forward to achieve equality for all.

Paalam po, Tita Letty.

It was an honor to campaign for you in 1987 and it is my distinct honor and privilege to pay homage to you today.

Maraming salamat, Senador Letty Ramos-Shahani.

Maraming salamat po.

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