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Get to know “Ma Lei”, the Annalise Keating of the PH

By Gianela Zapata, Jed Nykolle Harme, and Carlos Jimwell Aquino


A defense attorney professor and this viral home economics teacher have a lot more in common than just hair. 

Photo courtesy of: Lea Ramos Legaspi

Netizens were quick to share their funny reactions and hype this photo of two teachers and their former student taking a selfie at Mang Inasal.  However, the thing that stood out the most was one teacher’s striking resemblance to Annalise Keating, a character in the American legal drama series ‘How To Get Away With Murder.’ It does look like Annalise went out to eat halo-halo after winning a case in court. 



Screenshots from Twitter and Facebook


What most don’t know, is a real-life story of how this teacher got her student away from murder, and how her decision could have been the difference between a student’s bloody path, and a successful one.



Lea Ramos Legaspi is a 51-year-old teacher from Kawit, Cavite. She teaches home economics at the Emiliano Tria Tirona Memorial National High School and has been working there for 30 years. Her students call her “Ma Lei.”  

The post of her colleague, Sir Buendia in was the first to become viral. Then, a netizen screenshotted it, pointing out that Lea looked like Annalise. That’s when it became a trending meme on both Facebook and Twitter.

In an interview, Ramos states, “May nag message sa akin sabi ‘Ma Lei, viral ka.’ Tinanong ko kung saan. Sa Twitter daw, eh wala naman ako Twitter kaya sabi ko sa anak ko, ‘Nak gawan mo nga akong Twitter.’ 

“Inisip ko ba’t ba ako naassociate kay Ma’am Annalise. Tinanong ko isa kong student kung mao-offend ba ako. Sagot niya ‘wag po, kasi napakaganda nung role ni Annalise Keating doon. Wag niyo pong patulan yung mga sinasabi about the look. Yung siya mismo na character.’ Sabi ko ‘sige ah di na ako maooffend.’” 

She also said that she watched only two episodes of the legal drama series. She continues,  “Sabi ko, ‘ay di ako mahilig sa ganitong genre.’ Kaya lang baka pag tinanong ako kung ano ba nangyari doon baka di ako makasagot. Kaya ang ginawa ko, nagbasa ako ng summary niya. Diba shortcut.”

Still, there is one Annalise Keating moment Lea can never forget—her own story of how she covered her student’s not-so-good actions.


Real-life How To Get Away With Murder

“Dating-dati pa, siguro nung second year of teaching ko meron akong estudyante na galit na galit sa subject teacher niya. Tapos pagpasok niya, pinapagalitan siya, pinapahiya,” she shared. 

“Yung estudyante ko may baril sa bahay. Binitbit. Di niya naman binaril at pinagtakpan ko siya. Ang ginawa ko, kinuha ko yung baril. Tinago ko sa bag ko kasi may nakapag-tip sa guard na may nagdala nga ng baril. During that time ang mga estudyante ang tagal lumabas kasi talagang kinapkapan. Sa sobrang galit ng student ko, kinabukasan ako naman yung nagulat.

“Kasi doon sa isang wall sa may hagdanan, napalaki ng sulat, yung name ni teacher niya at tsaka may buwaya. Eh yung teacher alam niya ‘yang advisory ko ang may gawa so galit na galit siya. Pero in a way, hinayaan ko na kasi kaysa mas madugo sana yung nangyari di ko na siya sinumbong. Doon ko siya pinagtakpan. 

“Pero ngayon successful na siya. Isa siyang presidente sa isang kompanya sa EPSA at naging very known siya sa Japan. Pag nakikita ko Ma Lei pa rin naman ang tawag.

 “Pero kung madugo yung talagang nagawa na, di ako papayag. Isusumbong at isusumbong ko. Doon tayo sa tama. Diba hindi natin sila madidirect eh kung ‘di natin sila masumbong at mabigyang tulong.

When asked if she ever wanted to become a lawyer she replied, “Sabi lang ng nanay ko ‘Dapat sayo abogado. Makatwiran ka eh. Laging may sagot.’ Siguro by nature, gusto ko lahat parehas. Ayoko na may naapi. Mahirap ang buhay pero masarap mabuhay ng parehas.”



The Joys Of Teaching

In her 30 years of service, she says that the bond she has with her students is something special. Those close to her were even offended by the viral meme and said that the internet doesn't show how great of a teacher she is. 



“Sa loob lang ako ng classroom masungit. Sa labas hinahayaan ko na sila. Do your role, I will do mine. Ganun lang kasimple ang buhay ng teacher at estudyante. Sabi ko we are interrelated, di tayo pwede paghiwalayin. Diba, para matuto ka at matuto din ako. Tuwang tuwa ako sa mga estudyanteng nagiging successful kasi nga I love Tirona. I love my students,”  she continues.

She also thanks her supporters in a message for all of those who found joy through her “Annalise eating” moment.

Screenshot from Twitter

“Salamat at nagamit nila ako na pasayahin ang mundo nila, kasi napagaan ko yung mga damdamin nila. Kahit sabihin na nakakaasar yon pero yung pagtawa, malaking bagay yun sa buhay ng tao."