When one talks about enduring love, one love song easily comes to mind and it’s Crystal Gale’s “A Long and Lasting Love.”
Here are some enchanting lines of Gale’s song:
“A long and lasting love Not many people find it But those who do their whole life through Put their heart and soul behind it A long and lasting love Is what I’ve always dreamed of A special bond That goes beyond the changing of the seasons A long and lasting love Someone I can care for Someone to be there for the rest of my life A long and lasting love.”
For former President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR or Eddie) and his wife of 65 years, former First Lady Amelita “Ming” Martinez Ramos (AMR), theirs is a union that has become enduring and long lasting just like Gale’s stirring song.
Their love and marriage have withstood the test of time that FVR recently even devoted a five part series in his Sunday Manila Bulletin sermons to honor his wife and the legacy of Madam Ming.
FVR’s columns featured the various facets of Ming Ramos as an understanding wife to a military officer who rose to become president as well as a doting mother to their five daughters Angel, Cristy, Chula, Jo and Margie and now as a loving grandmother to their seven grandchildren.
In 2009, I was privileged to author a book on the life and times of the former first lady titled “Simply Ming,” which was FVR’s loving way and thoughtful gift in grateful appreciation of his wife.
Just like FVR columns, “Simply Ming” recounts their friendship as classmates at UP High School and as neighbors at Padre Faura; Eddie’s courtship to Ming and how they fell in love; her ability to balance her time in raising their children and fulfil her duties as the wife of a decorated military officer, and, later as president.
“Simply Ming” also featured her other traits and facets as a career professional and educator environmentalist, sports leader, musician, social worker and as a First Lady who was a woman full of substance.
At the tail-end of the Ramos presidency, Madam Ming wrote a column titled “Beside Eddie,” and she shared, “Despite the fact that I am the First Lady now, I am still working for mostly the same reasons 45 years ago at the International School. However, the experience has been a wonderful one with its share of happy moments and trying moments. I am proud to say that the last six years have been a good family bonding experience for us. Certainly after the six-year stint, any other problem not national in scope that Eddie and I will encounter in the future will pale in comparison!”
As for FVR’s appreciation of Madam Ming, here is a hearty and lovely letter he penned on Mother’s Day in 1995 which is reprinted below:
Happy Mother’ Day is too short a phrase, sometimes too impersonal and unoriginal especially between two people who have shared almost a lifetime together. Certainly we have more thoughts to share and express.
We are at this moment separated by a continent, the Pacific Ocean and the U.S. continent –– and a thirteen-hour time difference –– not by official duties but by something more precious –– Margie’s college graduation in Atlanta, Georgia. I hope that Margie will understand and forgive my absence during her commencement day, just as you and d’girls have been understanding of my career as a military man, cabinet member, jobless candidate, and now as president.
This kind of separation is something not new to us, as my military duties have often taken me away from all of you. The responsibilities of the Presidency are certainly now more demanding of our personal time.
We marvel at your never-ending patience, love and support –– manifested by the tireless work you have done to assure the children and me the warmth of home. You are my source of strength wherever I go and in everything I do.
It is your comforting support (and that of d’girls and grandchildren) that has motivated me and guaranteed whatever successes we have enjoyed.
It is to your credit that we have five wonderful and upright daughters. They have always been our great pride and joy. We are glad that when you had to take on the role of father and driver during my absences, you made sure that they never forgot about me! Truly, being a mother and wife is difficult enough, but you have proven to be more.
Not once did we see you falter. Today, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, how can we fully express the depth and breadth of our love and gratitude to you for giving everything a husband, father and family could ever want?
With all our love, Eddie.”
Straight from FVR’s heart, his Mother’s Day letter reflects the kind of relationship that they both shared in the many years being together.
When asked what she considers her greatest achievement in life? Without batting an eyelash, Ming replied, “Sticking to Eddie Ramos through thick and thin all these years.”
As FVR used to joke around, “According to Madam Ming, the longest word in the English dictionary is ‘I Do.’ But seriously, it’s one such commitment that I have always treasured for a lifetime.”
Ming Ramos: Herstory and legacy
If herstory will be it’s fair judge, the former first lady is one person who is confidently secure in her own right.
On her own, AMR is an accomplished woman just like her husband. She was one of the most accomplished first Ladies our country has ever had. She is distinct in the sense that she remained a career woman and educator, sticking to her job at the International School Manila during and even after the Ramos presidency, becoming a national symbol of the working mother. It is a career to which has been adamantly and faithfully devoted through the years.
Even in her role as conceivably the most powerful woman of the land, Ming managed to resist the temptation of basking in, and taking advantage of the vast powers inherent to the Office of the President.
She took on the role of first lady with quiet dignity, propriety and simplicity. She rarely took the center stage and was known for not meddling in government affairs.
Ming hails from a well-to-do family in La Paz, Iloilo. Her parents were pioneers in their respective fields—her mother, Josefa Jara Martinez, was the country’s pioneer social worker and her father, Rufino Martinez, was the country’s first U.S. trained naval architect.
Her own educational achievements bespeak her family’s status. Schooled in two of the finest universities in the United States, Ming was naturally inclined to follow her mother’s footsteps and became a pioneer in social work among soldiers and their families, and as a competitive sports leader in her time.
Through the years, her unassuming, simple and quiet ways have remained her distinct trademarks among the many people she worked with and whose lives she touched along the way.
From her service-oriented family background also sprung the virtues of modesty and “stick-to-tiveness.” Hence, it comes as no surprise that as a military officer’s wide, she had driven her children and herself to schooled and work.
According to Ming, life with a man in uniform was never easy.
“You have to be always be patient and understanding. You must also be supportive to you husband while, at the same time learning to be strong and self-reliant as mother to your children,” shares Ming about her life with Eddie.
She likewise promoted social graces among cadets and wives of military personnel, livelihood projects, and care for wounded soldiers, in support of a husband who was steadily climbing the military ladder.
With Eddie assigned to various places in the Philippines and abroad, Ming literally became mother and father to their children. She and their five daughters had to come to terms with the long absence of Eddie when he was on field duty.
Ming and their five daughters were trained to keep a low profile, even during martial law period when military might was at its peak.
Already a career professional at the International School, Ming took on a part time job as travel agent, while continuing to dabble in other livelihood activities to augment the meager family income.
The same values of honesty, hard work, patience, independence, and self reliance, she has passed on to her five daughters.
Coming from a family that loved music, she is a gifted musician, trained to play the piano as a girl. As first lady, she used her musical talents in joining concerts that raise funds for charitable project including the development of Philippine contemporary music.
As a sportswoman, she has always loved and promoted sports, particularly badminton and swimming at which she was national champion.
Another endearing facet is her being an environmentalist at heart. Ming is gifted with green thumb. She loves plants, flowers, trees and gardening. In both her public and private endeavors, she has positively contributed to the restoration and upkeep of the environment. To this day, Ming remains an icon among green advocates.
She will always be remembered for her environmental efforts under the “Clean and Green Foundation” and the “Piso-Para-sa-Pasig” campaign to revive the dying Pasig River. If there is one legacy that Ming Ramos has left to the Filipino people, it is bringing the urgency of the environmental care to the consciousness of Filipinos. And she did these before “climate change” and “green energy” became global concerns.
Eventually, she expanded on that role, organizing the Helping Foundation in support of an ambitious project of the Ramos government to clean up the Smokey Mountain garbage dumpsite.
The Ramos administration managed to convert the most notorious symbol of abject poverty in the Philippines, Smokey Mountain, into a decent residential area combined with a modern international container port.
With the support of many helping hands, Ming established a livelihood development center in the main relocation site in Tondo for former scavengers, proving that “teaching a man how to fish” instead of “giving him fish,” perfectly works.
Indeed, Ming Ramos has enshrined herself as a woman who has carved her own niche and whose legacy as a wife, mother, career professional and educator, environmentalist, sports leaders, musician, social worker, and first lady, will stand out for many generations to come.