Divorce: Why Not?

The Philippines is the only country in the world without divorce. The Catholic church is strongly against it and it will do anything to hamper the passing of a divorce law. They say it will take over the Filipino value and culture as it will destroy the basic unit of the community, the family. They say divorce is not the answer to address the growing number of violence against women in the country. They say allowing divorce will only open the door for more marital issues such as infidelity and morality. I vow to disagree.

Marriages collapse for a reason. Two individuals who promised to spend the rest of their lives together are, let’s face it, still humans. Humans make mistake, a known fact. There’s a difference between believing a marriage will work a lifetime and living the marriage each day. Truth sucks most of the time. Marriage is no good ‘ol fairy tale guaranteeing that two people will live happily ever after. Differences only arise when you are already trapped in the covenant. Love can easily turn into hate when the life you dreamed about does not materialize. Endless fights on just about anything can be physically and emotionally draining that over time, each person loses their hope for anything better in the future. For a woman, the husband, who used to be her knight in shining armor is now her greatest enemy. To imagine carrying on a life with this great burden is unspeakable. Same goes for the man. The constant bickering of the wife makes every day a cursed existence. There is no other way but out.

Annulment is the only option for Filipinos if they want to break free from this bond. Annulment is different from divorce in the sense that the former denies the fact that a union ever transpired. There was no marriage to speak about and filing for an annulment requires you to prove that. The commonly used ground for annulment is psychological incapacity. You have to prove to court that one of you was not psychologically fit at the time of the marriage to enter a contract. I have no idea how this is presented during hearings but for sure this opens a can of worms. Resentment and bitterness towards each other becomes even more present as old wounds are rehashed. Pointing fingers also becomes inevitable. Annulment is a painstaking process that goes on for years. Unlike divorce, court decisions on annulment take forever. You have to attend quite a number of hearings and yes of course, spend quite a fortune, too. Annulments are pretty darn expensive in the Philippines, around $50K. For a third world country like the Philippines, annulment is indeed only for the rich. For the poor majority, they just need to suck it up and endure hell. And this is all right with the Catholic church.

Divorce is honest. When two married people are no longer on the same page, divorce acknowledges that fact. It is not pretentious. It accepts the reality that marriage does not work on some individuals and it releases them from such bondage. Freedom is better than living a lie. Somehow, the Catholic church does not think so.

Incompatible couples are forced to live with each other. It is interesting to note, however, that one can file for a legal separation here in the Philippines. This is practically useless because it only acknowledges that a husband and a wife do not live together anymore. They are separated de facto. Separated but still married. You are still not legally allowed to enter a new marriage, hence, you are still tied to your old burden. This does not offer anything else.

Most troubled families do not dare take any of the above-mentioned options because they involve too much time, money and emotions but really do not give much. They are forced to ride the marriage out. They cling to the safe reasoning that they are staying on with the marriage for the sake of the children. What they feel do not matter anymore. They have to endure hell because they have no other option.

Times have changed, though. More and more married individuals are brave enough to defy the church and risk social stigma. Couples separate and move on with their lives with other partners. This is illegal in the Philippines. You can go to jail for sleeping with someone other than your husband or your wife, provided he/she filed a case. But, this is rarely the case in this country. Only the rich can afford to have lawyers. Most married couples have mutually decided to move on with their lives so filing a case against each other is a rarity.

So, this is the case of failed marriages in the Philippines. You have to either stay and suffer or flee and be a fugitive from the law and the church. And this is all because we have to protect and preserve our culture and values. To live free legally is something that the church and the state will not give to troubled couples. Good job then Philippines for promoting a culture of lies, suffering and unlawfulness!

Lady Gaga and the Catholic Church

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The Philippines is predominantly a Catholic nation. Thanks to three centuries of Spanish colonization. The line separating the church and the state is a very thin one in this country. The church has a vast influence on the government especially on issues involving morality like abortion, divorce, capital punishment, mercy killing, to name a few. The government listens to the church. The church dictates the state. This setup has resulted in numerous conservative decisions on sensitive issues that may or may not have been detrimental to the country’s socio-economic development.

Now, the Lady Gaga controversy. The pop star just finished her successful two-night concert in the Philippines but not before creating much buzz due to the Catholic church’s attempt to ban the singer. Apparently, Lady Gaga is a preacher from hell. Her songs are blasphemous, according to the church. She, allegedly, mocked several Biblical characters and her lyrics send out satanic messages.

Don’t we have a lot more problems to think and talk about in this country? Poverty, corruption, crime, sovereignty disputes, and the list goes on. But we have to prioritize the stoppage of Lady Gaga’s concert because she is a minion of Satan? The church is afraid that Lady Gaga will ruin the minds and religion of the Filipino people through her songs that vehemently desecrate the Holy Scripture.

This is interesting. Should we now blame Lady Gaga and the likes for the country’s problems? Have we run out of factors to blame for our nation’s plight? While it is true that entertainers do have a great influence on their fans but for the church to make a huge deal out of Lady Gaga’s lyrics is ridiculous and plain self-righteous. If Gaga’s lyrics should be scrutinized and criticized, then the church should start a campaign of cleansing the whole music industry commencing locally. I have heard worse lyrics sang by local artists. Words that promote infidelity, prostitution, vices, criminal activities, etc. Let us do that then.

Lady Gaga pushed through with her concert, unscathed by the controversy. In fact, the brouhaha even boosted the ticket sales. Thanks to you, Catholic church, for indirectly sending even more people to the concert ground to listen to the devil sing.

Faux Patriotism

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Finally, American Idol has closed season 11. All American guy, Phillip Phillips, won the title, much to the dismay of thousands and probably millions of Filipinos who cared too much for this contest.

I am a Filipino but I do not root for Jessica Sanchez. But does that make me less patriotic than those who profess extreme adulation to this 16-year old belter from Chula Vista, California?
Other people think so. I have gotten negative reactions from Jessica fans who think I have sort of betrayed my country for not supporting a Filipino talent, or whatever.

Cruel judgment, I must say. Rather shallow and cheap. Unfair. My patriotism shall not be judged according to who I cheer for in an American singing contest. Take note, this is an American show and those who are truly patriotic should not even patronize this for the fact that it is foreign. Get it, Jessica fans?

Jessica Sanchez, undoubtedly, is an incredible singer. She has this really big voice that could compete with mainstream divas like Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and the late Whitney Houston. She is truly gifted. But why don’t I like her? Simply because she lacks originality. I totally have no idea what her real genre is. Is she pop, urban, r&b? Sure she can hit all those high notes with such power but what is she aside from sounding like Jennifer Holiday on one number and Whitney on two? She can also pull off a great BeyoncĂ© whenever she feels like it.

Anyway, my bet, Joshua Ledet, did not make it to the finals so I was not really all giddy to watch American Idol’s season finale a few days back.

It is appalling how Filipinos show unity when it comes to entertainment or sports. They suddenly feel proud when a Filipino entertainer or sportsman gains admiration abroad. They express extreme support for Manny Pacquiao during his bouts in the US. Lives stop when Manny hits the ring. Everyone’s glued to the TV and crime rates even hit null. Amazing.

Now, Jessica Sanchez is not pure Filipino. She is half-Mexican. She hasn’t been in the Philippines ever as she was born and raised in the US. Then why call her “kababayan” (countryman)? She is not from here. She sang the Star Spangled Banner during her homecoming for the American Idol. She does not speak the Filipino language. What then is this sudden interest for Filipino unity just because a young singer with only 50% Filipino blood was making waves in an American stage? I do not get it. Is this really on the account of Filipinos trying so hard to be noticed in the international arena even only in the entertainment scene? What is this desperate need for attention all about? Does this equate to national pride? Is Jessica Sanchez a national pride when she is not even a Filipino citizen? No. Supporting Jessica Sanchez is not a matter of national pride but the need to identify and relate. Even if she is far from being a “kababayan” in the truest sense of the word and the fact the she looks 100% Filipino despite her Hispanic roots, that is enough for Filipinos to identify and relate with her. Enough to own her as ours.

Jessica is an incredible singer and that should be the reason for someone to like her, especially in this country. It should not be because she has the Filipino blood. Jessica Sanchez is not pure Filipino. She is international, multi-national. Which is why we should not pull the race or nationality card here.

Now, anyone who does not support her should not be judged as unpatriotic. Everyone has different tastes in music, and that should be respected. You cannot force a fellow Filipino to like someone and shove off that false patriotism down his throat if he refuses. That is not nationalism. That is stupidity and ignorance and narrow-mindedness at its finest.

Two cents

Whatever happened to “everyone is entitled to his own opinion”? These days, people are becoming more and more overly sensitive. You will be verbally stoned to death when you voice out your two cents regarding gays, races, fat people, etc.

Poor Miriam Quiambao and Manny Pacquiao. They opened their mouths and were instantly crucified for thinking out loud. Miriam is against the idea of allowing transgenders to join the Miss Universe pageant. Manny opposes President Obama’s stand on gay marriage. The Bible might have been (mis)quoted on their statements but the fact remains that these two are just saying what are on their minds. Why be hard on them?

It is ridiculous how people these days sensationalize everything! They blow issues out of proportion and they start hating and hating. To each his own, okay? We may choose to disagree but to react in a holier-than-thou manner is downright wrong. Miriam and Manny already clarified that they do not hate gays. Their statements were twisted by the media resulting to misinterpretation. True or not, let’s just let them be. We cannot expect celebrities to always go with the flow or side with the majority. We have our own sets of beliefs and principles and opinion is something that one cannot take from anyone, ever.