No Divorce in the Philippines, But Lots of Mistresses and Paramours
Divorce hits the latest rehashed headlines in a country perennially stuck in backwardness.
If it’s not an aging bachelor it’s that bane of “civil society” – the kabit, the mistress, the paramour – and with them the baggage of bastards. All this in a society that supposedly “protects” the family – at the expense of the individuals who make up a family.
At present, the Family Code that governs marriage and family relations in our country provides three remedies to marriages. These are declaration of nullity, annulment and legal separation.
All these options are so convoluted – c’mon – who the hay are we kidding when we declare that say Kris Aquino and James Yap’s marriage were invalid ab initio – or that they were psychologically incapacitated to enter into marriage – and yet, the grant of nullity or annulment allows two certified psychologically incapacitated people to remarry.
What’s more ironic, really, is the argument that since the constitution says that the state “protects” the family – and divorce breaks the family – then the bill is unconstitutional. A counterpoint, however is that keeping two people together involuntarily against their will to support religious dogma is a violation of their constitutionally protected rights to a) pursuit of happiness and b) freedom of belief or disbelief.
How many relatives do we know of who sired children outside of marriage? A whole lot.
This leads to a situation where bigamy and polygamy is practiced widely – but not acknowledged, in politically correct Philippines. No thanks to a Family Code that does not allow divorce. How many relatives do we know of who sired children outside of marriage? A whole lot. How many senators, mayors, congressmen, cabinet secretaries, and generals do you know of who have multiple households? How many public officials do you know of who are sired out of marriage? How many bastard senators do you know? Were they bastards by their own fault or by a law which protects marriages that are no longer functioning?
If we are to factor in the matter of street childrenas a byproduct of failed marriages which have no legal recourse – it can get more alarming. How many children landed in the streets because their dad left their mom for another woman or man? How many children slept in the concrete sidewalks after both their parents called it quits? How many children were aborted because the parents felt they were not ready for marriage – and that lack of divorce will trap them in case things don’t work out?
Divorce: a way out to new beginnings
Our society’s consistent attempts to restrict individual liberty whether it is in marriage, culture, or the economy have not borne good results. By putting the nameless, faceless “greater good” over our selves, we surrender our capacity to enjoy fuller and happier lives.
The foundation of a familyis the relationship between two individuals. When such relationship between couples have deteriorated, the foundation crumbles into non-existence – andthe notion of a family with a non-existing foundation is absurd. Without the sustained bond between the two individuals who voluntarily entered into the marriage contract – there is no family.
Keeping a family together when there is a poisoned or totally broken down marriage does not protect the family at all. You have the semblance of a family – but what you have is a shell. A collection of individuals going through the motions of appearing normal. All of these individuals sacrifice themselves in the name of the family – and in the process kill their soul. They give up their dreams, their passions, their desires – life itself. We are just being human when we care to protect – but we are just as human when we dare to open ourselves and accept our warts along with our sparkling pearly smile. There is no shame in parting. There is excitement in picking up the pieces and life goes on.
With the death of the soul it is easy to make one do anything for one loses the inner compass which differentiates humans from animals. So there they are trapped in an empty shell, dead to themselves but alive to the world – in all the trappings of wealth and fame. The Church is but too glad to provide the “inner compass” – along with your money and what’s left of your soul.
While the Church preaches sacrifice – it is the individuals – the spouse and the children who have to live with the decision for the rest of their lives. Time is a valuable commodity and we can choose to continue to live in the abject misery that we all fully know – killing parts of ourselves, day by day. Or, we can face the unknown and all its possibilities. But, being bold is not the nature of the Filipino. Not yet.
As a nation we have surrendered so much of ourselves to this notion of being “Filipino” that we have lost sight of who we are as individuals. Families are not the foundation of society – individuals are. To a certain extent, the Filipino family serves as the indoctrination of the Filipino into dysfunctional collectivism. One need not go very far to recall a TV noontime show featuring a child who danced like a macho dancer in order to make money for the family. Or the daughter who the parents sent to Japan to find a husband on whom the entire family can live off. But I digress.
Passage of a divorce bill does not mean that the Philippines promotes divorce or the destruction of the family. We are saving the individuals from further damage and long-term exposure to a stressful environment that can lead to social deficiencies later in life.
While there is short-term dislocation from a split – the long-term exposure to flawed relationship role models can lead to flawed social interactions. Perhaps that is why we Filipinos treat each other like dung – because in our Filipino families we treat individuals like so. We misunderstand how to treat others well because we don’t know how to treat ourselves properly. Charity not only begins at home – it begins with ourselves. We cannot give love – if we don’t have love. We cannot share happiness if we don’t have it in us.
This post was first published in The Anti-Pinoy in June 2011.