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|“||You know, when we get down to it, I've always placed my life on the line. Whether it was in the battlegrounds or the UAN conference rooms, every single day was a war zone.||”|
— Maria Yslenski in an interview
to listen to Maria Yslenski's theme!
|Maria Andrea Santiago - Yslenski|
Maria during her tenure as ambassador
Maria Andrea H. Santiago|
June 12, 1985
|Residence||Outskirts of City of Progress|
Proelia (ambassador) |
|Education||Masters of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy|
Arreneo University |
Maybila Central High
|Notable works||Established relations with other countries|
|Home town||Maybila, Finipines|
Captain (formerly) |
First Lady (formerly)
|Spouse(s)||Joseph Yslenski (m. 2012)|
|Children||Matthew Yslenski (b. 2013)|
Arthur Santiago |
|Relatives||Max Santiago (brother)|
|Years of service||2001 - 2007|
Second Finipino Civil War |
several classified operations
Maria Andrea H. (Hermida) Santiago-Yslenski is the former First Lady of Munijoch and Chief Ambassador of the Finipines. She is known throughout Antarctica for her marriage to former Munijoch president Joseph Yslenski as well as for establishing international relations with multiple countries on behalf of her motherland. Her diplomatic tactics when speaking to countries of multiple backgrounds are often subjected to praise, and are said to be the epitome of Finipino diplomacy. Maria is often lauded for her flexibility towards handling politicians and civilians alike.
She was born during the twilight years of a peaceful transition between the two civil wars of the Finipines. Maria has known peace and war in her lifetime, especially after being thrust into a war she did not ask to join. While regrettably joining the opposition and fighting against those she love, she's tried to redeem herself by being a whistleblower to the government, helping end the war. Due to her pacifism and way with words, Maria has been offered the chance to represent her country to the rest of the continent, where she was more than happy to accept.
- 1 History
- 2 Personal Life
- 3 Personality
- 4 Appearance
- 5 Strengths and Weaknesses
- 6 Relationships with Other Penguins
- 7 Trivia
- 8 Quotes
- 9 See Also
Despite the smile that graces her face at any given moment, there are dark times that haunt the crevices of her mind and soul. While bits and pieces of her story have not been publicly uttered by the former First Lady, files taken from the Finipino archives have allowed civilians to know the story of this brilliant woman.
Maria was born to Arthur and Selena Santiago and lived within the capital of Maybila. Arthur was the owner and head baker of the family-run Santiago Cafe, which was located in a prime spot near offices and schools alike, a few blocks away from the family's little residence. Selena was the secretary of the Secretary of National Defense, whose day mostly consisted of moving around central Maybila, attending meetings in the Palasyo, and visiting military bases. Maria is the younger sister of Max, who was a few years her senior. Maria and her brother studied at the Maybila Central, a school a few blocks from the Cafe that mostly catered to children of government employees. When Maria wasn't studying or playing with her brother, she would be learning how to run the family business. She had started by merely helping out with carrying supplies and cleaning up tables, stepping up to learning the family recipes as she grew more and more capable. This made her a rather happy child who enjoyed the workings of baking and running a cafe.
She is often lauded by her mentors and classmates as a child with limitless energy and enthusiasm in nearly everything she does. Maria was an active member of the student council, debate society, and color guard, often seen to have a mischevious streak in between meetings. She loved to bike to and from school to either the Santiago Cafe or home, bustling with energy that needed a release. Within the Cafe, she regularly chats with frequent customers about their personal lives and her academics, brightening up the room with her easy laughter and light conversation.
Unknown to anyone in the family, Selena had eyed her daughter to become a member of the Maharlika's disgraced paramilitary organization, the Orion Initiative. Selena set to work in putting her in extra classes, ranging from ballet to foreign languages. Her husband had approved thinking that her desire was to bulk Maria up to have a better advantage when she got older, not knowing her ulterior motives. Maria was put through her paces with every pirouette she made and every language she articulated herself in.
In the backdrop of Maria's training and work, however, was her gentle grandmother named Elena, who was a simple nurse during the times of the war. She disapproved the way her daughter-in-law was treating her youngest granddaughter and thought that it was no way to treat such a girl. When Maria wasn't learning a new language or learning a new routine in ballet, or when she wasn't baking pastries or studying her lessons, Elena would teach her granddaughter how to enjoy life. It wasn't a secret that she doted upon her, and she tended to spoil her whenever possible. As a seamstress, Elena fashioned beautiful sundresses for her to wear whenever they would go out for a picnic. During nighttime, Maria would find herself listening to the stories of her grandmother that would lull her to sleep. More often than not, these stories centered around peace and a world free from the tyrannical grips of those who try to take away democracy.
As the years went by, Maria's extra lessons under her mother gave way to other training. Ballet became martial arts, and languages became codes. Nonetheless, Elena remained to be a constant peace in her life. She constantly reminded her granddaughter not to push herself for doing things she cannot easily attain, and to work towards the level she desired. When Maria wasn't decapitating a dummy with a sword, she was being taught to be gentle with a pair of scissors and a bonsai tree. When she wasn't busy learning a new cipher, she was busying herself with reading romance novels her grandmother handed her. Between the lessons on merciless aggression and detached conversation, Maria was being taught to be gentle and kind.
Maria was fifteen when the civil war broke out.
Selena disappeared early on during the civil war, feared to have been swept away by Orion's raid of the Palasyo. Maria, with her father and brother, searched for her in military bases and police precincts, constantly finding themselves fruitless. When classes were suspended due to the fights escalating in their side of the capital, Maria often busied herself with helping out in the cafe. She utilized her multilingual skills and ballet to cheer up customers whenever possible, as well as speaking lightly to them so as to divert their attention towards the positives. Whenever an injured soldier or civilian walks through the cafe doors, Maria made sure to accommodate them with first aid and a warm cup of cocoa. Eventually, she had to close up shop when news began to spread that Maharlika was breaking into establishments to put their employees under hostage.
Maria was fast asleep when she heard a window shatter. Suspicious, she cautiously approached the hallway, only to find that her mother was waiting for her. Before she can exclaim her relief for her mother's safety, she was incapacitated with a muted gunshot. Once conscious, Maria found herself strapped to a chair in a military base that was seized by Orion. Selena was there to present to her an ultimatum: serve Orion as an insurgent and a test subject, or face execution along with her brother and father. Maria would reluctantly choose the former to protect herself and her family, resigning herself to experiments.
Maria was put in a squadron that was known as Bellatrix, which was then an all-female squadron who were rumored to be enhanced for speed and stealth. She was the co-captain and second in command to Holiday Pietra, where they lead multiple strikes against government troops with efficiency. The squadron managed to seize military bases and equipment to aid in their movements, quickly becoming a feared team among their opponents. This would garner their attention to High Command, who would proceed to send them on more missions and test further enhancements on them.
Of course, there would be a slip-up. During the last years of the civil war, Maharlika felt the effects of their rebellion as well as saw the after effects of the enhancements they've given their soldiers. To preserve the remaining units that were viable for battle, many were recalled to return to the main headquarters in Pilar. Among those who were called back was Bellatrix, who was already beginning to feel the effects of prolonged usage of the enhancement drugs. While transferring to the next base for refueling, Bellatrix was shot out of the sky by a land to air missile that killed all of them and critically injured few of them. Maria was part of those who still lived, where she was put on hospital arrest by government forces.
Maria could be described as reluctant to give information to her captors about what the inner workings of Orion was, for fear that her family would be executed once they found out. During this, she began to feel the effects of drug withdrawal and was forced to remain in the hospital until she's stabilized herself. It took weeks before Maria could admit to them everything that goes on in the other side of the war, after reassurances were made that her family was located and in a safe location. From there, she became more and more cooperative with naming key officials and locations that helped end the war.
President Ynares's Aide-de-Camp
Following the return of peace in the archipelago, Maria was among the rest of the whistleblowers who were still unsure if they wanted to return to civilian life or continue to serve in the country. While she desired to go back to normal and continue working in the little cafe her family owned, she still felt as if she owed the Finipino people an apology for being part of the atrocities of Maharlika during the civil war. The President then, Benjamin Ynares, saw her conflict and offered her a compromise: study in Arreneo under an accelerated course of her interest while serving as his aide-de-camp. Maria was ready to accept.
Due to her pacifism as well as interest towards the outside world around her little country, she chose to study International Relations with the hope that it would let her explore outside of her country. Maria's attention was divided since she had to attend meetings with Ynares in the day and take her evening classes at night, sometimes having to go on leave for the sake of personally attending her lectures. To help her in balancing out her studies and work, her tasks as an aide were limited to important meetings and major events in the country's history. Maria would often be seen by observant eyes in the background of Ynares's entourage, sometimes seen strolling the Palasyo gardens with him.
After the Ynares administration, the administration of Amor Atienza took its place. During the transitionary period, Atienza had gone over a list of remarkable personnel of the Ynares administration to see if she can retain any of them in her administration. Maria quickly caught her attention as a viable candidate.
President Amor Atienza took interest in Maria's file mainly for the colorful background she held, as well as the clear dedication that she gave in everything she did. Since it was in Atienza's interests to present the country to the international community as a capable country, Maria seemed like a suitable representative. She was summoned for a discussion regarding a position in the UAN, to which she was more than happy to comply.
Maria was appointed as Chief Ambassador, much to the surprise of many of the country. She wasn't exactly the happiest penguin when she was suddenly thrust into the limelight of the media, who seemed to want to know everything about the new representative. To keep it secret that she was a former insurgent, Maria's file was put in the highest security clearance in the line, and she was given a team of bodyguards. Maria resided in an apartment that wasn't too far from the Palasyo or the airport, boasting of a lovely view of the Maybila Bay.
Every day, Maria would be reporting to the Palasyo to update the President about their relations with other countries, as well as pick up paperwork that needed signing. In the situation that she has to attend meetings in the UAN, Maria would go to South Pole City to represent the country in the UAN compound. Beyond this, she would also be abroad to establish relations with multiple countries, many of which include most countries in the Ninja Archipelago, Azukri, and UnitedTerra.
Foreign Aid Officer
In 2010, Maria along with 300 Finipino medics was sent on a foreign aid mission to Munijoch as a way to respond to the call of the rebellion to assist those in need. Besides being there to oversee medical personnel distribution, Maria also had to get to work with collecting information on what's going on in Munijoch by taking pictures, interviewing citizens, and writing reports. These findings would be forwarded to the UAN to further supplement the call for foreign aid, as well as evidence the clear penguin rights violations committed by the WhiteBlood. Originally, she was only meant to stay for six months but requested for an extension after finding that there's a possibility she may document the last few years of the civil war.
Sometimes, she would be pulled out of the country by Atienza for personal oral reports as well as other ambassador matters that she temporary suspended upon her Munian assignment. While these breaks would stretch from weeks to months at a time, Maria kept a constant stream of information through medical personnel on site and Orion operatives.
First Lady of Munijoch
Following the disappearance of Victor Malkov, there was a call for a new president. Joseph was a viable candidate as his replacement, and after an election that confirmed that the public favored him as their leader, he became president. As a result, she became the First Lady of Munijoch and gracefully resigned as the Chief Ambassador of her homeland. This was met with positive remarks from her fellowmen as well as increased relations between the two countries.
The Munian public as well as its media were in awe with the First Couple they've been graced to be with. Alongside her husband's plans on improving the country, she often took the time to learn about the new country she lived in, despite the clear culture shock she felt at first. Maria was often seen exploring the museums and theaters that dotted the capital she lived in, as well as sometimes going out of it to explore the other cities. From there, she established programs that supported or enhanced the arts sectors of the country, as well as granted scholarships to youth who were exemplary in arts or sports. Besides this, she would also be going abroad with her husband during international summits or meetings.
The Frosian War and Joseph's Kidnapping
Maria was busying herself trying to remain updated regarding the events unfolding when the coup against Joseph happened. Concerned for her son's safety and hers, Maria immediately contacted Atienza and proceeded to make arrangements in order to get her and Matthew out of the country. While doing this, she ensured the security of several rooms in their home, including the Triago lair, music basement, and the personal library the two personally filled out. It's said that Maria fled the home with her son with a few possessions in hand, including some sentimental objects she and her husband shared. With assistance from the Finipino embassy, Maria and Matthew were able to evacuate to the Finipines.
They were placed in Maria's apartment from when she was still the ambassador of her country. To ensure the protection of the family, Atienza reassigned Defense to Maria as well as informed the Orion's Belt regarding her return and the circumstances of why she came home. This was also to ensure that Maria had a constant support system while she balanced worry over her husband and care for her child. Unknown to all of this, Matthew was fascinated by the beautiful scenery his mother's homeland had to offer, often accompanying her whenever she took the chance to explore her country for any changes.
Whenever Maria cannot bring Matthew around her city, Defense or any of the Belt would bring him to tell him stories about the country or his mother. During these times, she was with either Orion or the Palasyo, where she would be briefed on the latest developments of the war as well as any other important issues. Often, the topic of her husband's disappearance would be raised for the sake of her enlightenment, despite the sensitivity of the topic. Most of the time, Maria was ready to discuss it, but there were days when she couldn't stand being in the same room with those who look at her piteously regarding the topic.
Maria and Matthew returned to Munijoch as soon as her husband was returned to power. Following the turnout of events, Maria kept herself busy with a constant stream of information from informants all over the country. When she isn't with her son or husband, Maria was often in meetings with NGOs on ways to help those who were affected by the war. She would be seen making many trips to Rio de Vatica and other parts of the country to speak with those who are helping rebuild as well as those who were dislocated by the war. Maria was often seen as an action woman who was more than willing to tend to the injured as well as make donations out of her own pocket.
While Maria was glad that Matthew managed to get a glimpse, perhaps a few months of life in her homeland, she was more than relieved to find her husband okay after everything that's happened. With the democratic government almost shattered and the casualties high, Maria assisted in the efforts to rehabilitate the country by focusing on the education and welfare of the remaining Munian youth. She would work shifts in the hospitals and in the programs she initiated, working around the clock despite the concerns of Joseph.
Maria may be slightly concerned with the new government system, but she secretly agrees that the system is needed until the country grows tired of it.
With her husband's stepping down and a new president in Munijoch, Maria had taken advantage of the newfound privacy by immersing herself in arts. Pottery has been a hobby that's piqued her interest while First Lady, having strolled the art museums of Munijoch often. She had taken this as well as other little hobbies to keep herself busy, like knitting. She also took on the task of being a full-on household wife, often busying herself with taking care of their son Matthew.
Currently, she teaches classes at the Progressional Law School as a part-time professor.
Maria studied International Relations and Diplomacy in Arreneo University while working for former President Benjamin Ynares, taking the night classes or blatantly going on leave to focus on them. It's known that she took an accelerated course within the university so that she could qualify in time for the diplomatics exam, seeing as she entered school late. She proceeded to take her masters when she was appointed as ambassador.
Maria met Joseph during the twilight years of the Third Munijoch Civil War while she was sent there for foreign aid and obtaining of information on behalf of the UAN and the Finpines. As the story goes, the two met when Maria's entourage was assaulted by WhiteBlood rebels who thought of ransacking the entourage of their resources, as well as take hostage anyone of value. Joseph's forces were what helped scramble the rest of the insurgents away while Maria tried to regroup the rest of her medics and defend her part of the convoy. After, the two had tried to get to know each other in between battles and when either wasn't so busy. It's presumed that they got married in late 2012 at an unknown part of Munijoch and later had a son named Matthew in 2013.
Many would agree that Maria's defining trait is her cautiousness in anything and everything she does, with a preference towards listening to all sides of the story before providing her opinion on issues. She often exhibits wide networking skills that can range from normal civilians all the way to Orion operatives who are willing to give her information on any issue, which she often taps into whenever she needs to make a decision. She is constantly carefully measuring out her words to perfectly convey what she is trying to get across, which can sometimes make people impatient due to how quiet she may get at pressing matters.
Despite her rather lavish home and life as the First Lady, Maria is often simple and transparent with those she speak to. Her humility and kindness, regardless if she's speaking to a politician or a citizen, is unparalleled and unwavering. She is often flexible with who she's talking to and appears tolerant to even the most stressful conversationalists, with a seemingly infinite patience when she is with anyone. She is determined to achieve her goals and willing to stand by her ideals, making her a bit too stubborn to change unless given enough proof.
In the Battlefield
During the times when a war was more apparent than peace, Maria had more than once taken up arms to defend those who couldn't. She is known to be cooperative in a unit, often keeping watch of the others' backs.
Maria is an Adelie Penguin. She is seen to be a rather lean penguin, despite the frequent spars and jogging she does. She is lime green, with dark brown eyes usually associated with chocolate. She has long, curly brown hair that's usually in a bun. Most of the time during her administration as an ambassador she wore pantsuits, but remarkably she began to wear dresses too during her First Lady term. She is a few inches shorter than what is common in her age and often uses heels to make up for it. She also wears an amulet with a purple gem, a symbol of her marriage to Joseph Yslenski.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Business - Maria is known to have taken up business-related subjects while in high school. She also learned personally from her father on how to run a business, hence why Atienza constantly sends her to make business deals with foreign countries.
- Cooking - Maria finds it important to possess culinary skills, and sometimes uses her cooking as a negotiation tactic. Of course, she tries at best not to use this on those she's trying to convince into having relations with the Finipines.
- Diplomatic Skills - After studying International Relations at Arreneo, Maria's skills in diplomacy had gotten better than when she was still untrained.
- Medical Expertise - With the concern for the welfare of others in mind, Maria has sharpened her knowledge in first aid and basic medicine at a young age. After getting proper training from both high school and military training, as well as personally taking care of soldiers while on the field, she is a self-proclaimed medic.
- Polyglot - It's believed that Maria can speak and understand at least 8 different languages as well as 2 regional languages. Perhaps compulsory studies from her mother did do her some good.
- Clumsiness - Maria can be very clumsy, often tripping on stuff or dropping objects. The clumsiness often manifests in times when her mind isn't totally focused on what she's doing or when she's tired.
- Nightmares - While not exactly prominent, Maria has nightmares of the civil war and what she had to do as an insurgent. These episodes seem to have decreased as she became the ambassador, but return whenever she's assigned to conflict zones.
- Reluctance - Maria cannot will herself to physically fight someone unless provoked or when she has strong reason to attack.
- Ticklishness - Although many believed that military training has toughened her physically and mentally, she can easily be sent into a fit of giggles with a simple brush on the side and belly. Unknown whether her feet are ticklish as well.
- Time management - Given that she tends to be absorbed in what she does, she often winds up overworking herself to physical exhaustion. It often takes an outside force to pull her out of her work and get her to relax or sleep.
Relationships with Other Penguins
- Joseph Yslenski
- Maria met Joseph during the twilight years of his civil war, when WhiteBloods attacked her team's convoy while they were on their way to refugee areas. Their encounter was simply a chance of luck, with the terrorists scampering away as Joseph's forces overpowered them. From there, Maria chose to follow Joseph's troops in order to both medically assist them as well as question him about their side of the war. Those who were able to witness their interactions describe them to be awkward, "dancing around each other" while trying to appear as professional as possible. The two managed to remain close with each other despite Maria's duties to go in and out of the country to report to the UAN and her own country.
- As a married couple and the only known First Couple of Munijoch, they seemingly managed to keep a respectable distance from each other's work, often complimenting the other about their latest project whenever possible. In the instances that they're seen together, the couple is seen as light and comfortable with a charming aura that seemingly draws everyone to them. In private, the other constantly worries over the other's welfare, and they tend to be transparent with each other. It's reported that Maria and Joseph constantly keep up light banter about chores and duties at home.
- Matthew Yslenski
- Maria fell in love with Matthew the moment he got out of his egg. She can be described as very protective of her only child, making it her personal mission that he lives without having to know the hardships of war. She constantly advocates and supports anything he wants to learn about — from everything about her and his father all the way to basic engineering lessons that he may want to know. Despite the fact that he's born and raised in Munijoch, Maria tries to open him up to her side of the continent, teaching him her language and her customs as well as telling him stories from her own childhood. Currently, she constantly dotes on him while trying to make sure he doesn't trip while going up and down the stairs.
- Amor Atienza
- Amor has always believed in Maria's capacity to do good despite the background she came from. Many could see similarities between the two: they both understood that measures had to be done to avoid the country's downfall through inner turmoil, they were both strong in their convictions and ideals, and they both supported moves to make the country more open to the rest of the continent. They have always been light and understanding with each other, quickly developing a somewhat mother-daughter relationship with each other. Amor constantly mentored Maria into further becoming the best diplomat she can possibly be, still taking into her account her former background in the military. Besides this, they kept a comfortable relationship, where they often discussed national and personal matters over tea or a good stroll around the gardens.
- James Cueva
- Maria and James met when he was still her superior officer under High Command, during the civil war. James was the only one out of her superiors who understood her frustrations with her co-captain but tried his best not to appear so unless they were in private. Due to this, James was often accused of bearing favoritism towards Maria, which he would vehemently deny because that was not the case. Besides that, he understood the fact that she was forced into these circumstances by her mother, seeing as he himself was put in this position. They often conversed with each other whenever the two had the time until Maria was captured. Believing that she was in the safety of the government, James surrendered himself and willingly gave information about the inner workings of High Command. The two continued to be good friends up until present.
- Holiday Pietra
- It's known that Holiday and Maria's relations date back to the times of insurgency, where they were both assigned to a squad that was called Bellatrix. Both of them are said to constantly argue due to Holiday's barbaric and loud tactics that focused on high fatalities in comparison to Maria's subtle means of incapacitation. While this conflict wasn't left unnoticed by High Command, it was considered back then as a necessary evil since the squad eventually pulls through to do its job successfully. Maria and Holiday eventually learned to tolerate each other when they were captured by government forces, where they both served as whistleblowers against Maharlika.
- Atlas dela Rosa
- dela Rosa was among the bodyguards who were assigned to Maria during her tenure as ambassador, lovingly given the call sign of Defense by Maria due to his ability to defend her whenever people question her validity as a diplomat. As her personal bodyguard, he was always found in attendance with her during every meeting and event she had to represent her country in, where he was often mistaken as her romantic partner. When both were off-duty, they would be seen sparring with each other or talking about anything under the sun. Defense often fretted over her physical well-being, despite her constant reassurances that she is a grown woman and can handle herself.
- Her favorite color is white because she finds it very calming to look at.
- She is a light sleeper, which she considers both a blessing and a curse.
- She kept a bunch of bubble wrap in her cabinet in order to relieve stress in her office.
- She is emotionally attached to a black and red sweater that is still a bit too big for her.
- She is a worrisome mother who tends to check or keep an eye on Matthew as much as possible.
- Though of course, she knows that one day she'll have to leave him alone.
- She is the only First Lady of Munijoch.
- Most of the time, her cooking negotiation tactic is used on either Joseph or Matthew.
- She has a grudge on Isaac Juggernaut, as he was behind the kidnapping of her husband during the Frosian War.
- She is usually the last one to find out where Joseph is.
- Maria is one of the few publically known members of Orion's Orbit, a group of former and current Orion officers who were part of the organization during its darker history.
- Maria may mean the following: "sea of sorrow", "rebellion", and "lady of the sea".
- Santiago is a surname related to St. James the Greater, who is known to be the first apostle to be martyred.
- "Get me off of this crazy train..."
- "Was... Was that a fire extinguisher?"
- "Have you tried rolling on bubble wrap to calm down?"
- "I don't see the point of this game."
- "We actually have a law for that? Do tell."
- "Boys, behave."
- "Oh my goodness Joseph what are you doing?"
- "You're doing amazing, sweetie!"