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 Beyoncé 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.

International Bullying


Our generation never witnessed both World Wars, when nations fought each other for power, territories,cultural cleansing. Everything we know about these wars were taught in our History classes or from our grandparents’ reminiscing of their early days. But one thing is common about all wars, one plays the bully and the other, the bullied.

Now, in the age of Facebook, smart phones, democracy and free speech; international bullying is still a reality. A third-world country, like the Philippines, will never dare to engage in a world war. National budget is not even enough to feed the mouths of its poverty-stricken 100 million population, much more buy modern weaponry to fight the enemy. Losing a battle is imminent and joining a war is downright foolish.

Then comes this sovereignty dispute with China over the Scarborough Shoal. China claims, its been theirs for centuries. It’s in their maps, their history books. The Philippines, however, claims sovereignty because of the islands proximity to the Philippine archipelago. China may be right, we could be wrong or the other way around. But the truth of the matter is, bullying is evident in the international scene.

The Chinese government has issued a memo to its citizens advising them not to visit the Philippines. As a result, hundreds of tour packages have been cancelled, largely affecting local tourism especially in Boracay. Imports of bananas from the Philippines have been banned. Exports of Chinese products to the Philippines have been reduced. Cyber attacks on major Philippine websites are still ongoing, earning the ire of Filipinos leading to cyber retaliation and street protests.

What a third-world country, like the Philippines, can and should do? Do we even have a chance in this dispute? No, we don’t even have to talk about fighting via fighter jets or bombs or soldier deployment. The Philippines will lose in that kind of war in an hour.

Do we stand a chance with China’s economic sabotage and incessant threats to our country? I don’t think so. Fighting back is futile and the repercussions are detrimental. Are these islands even that worth it? Probably yes, probably not. We have to face the fact that we are being bullied here. It’s like being shoved into a locker by a huge, cocky jock, as seen in the movies. Fighting a bully when you are the diminutive one is fatal. Let us then choose our battles. Our pride is at stake here but then again the smartest way is to report the bully to the principal and let the school handle it. Let us shut up for now and let the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea settles it.

Define Discrimination

I have nothing against the LGBT community. In fact, I love being around them especially the gay ones. They are the jolliest people around and it’s always fun being in their company. This latest controversy in the Miss Universe pageant, however, caught my attention and I can’t help but raise an eyebrow.

Miss Canada 2012, Jenna Talackova, is the first transgender contestant in the Miss Universe pageant. He/She was initially barred from joining the contest because he/she was not born female. After a while, though, this decision was overturned by Miss Universe owner, Donald Trump. Transgender are now officially welcome to join without any reservations.

Miriam Quiambao and other local celebrities have expressed their denouncement over this decision. And I share the same opinion. Let’s face it, transgender are not women. They might appear women but they are not women. They may look, sound, act, smell, feel like women but when they were born into this world, they were registered as “boys”. I respect their decision to change what they are because yes, to each his own. But, I would like to ask the same from them. Respect womanhood. Miss Universe is for women, not for transgender. Transgender do not fall under “women” but to a totally different category, which, is “trangender”. Why can’t they leave Miss Universe to real women and just appeal for the creation of a pageant solely for transgender? Let’s fight fair. Fight with your own kind.

Many people think this is just a marketing strategy by Donald Trump. Miss Universe viewership has been on the slump for several years now and this is just what it needed, a boost. But of course, this is not to be admitted publicly. The press release is something about the Miss Universe organization being against discrimination, blah blah. Oh really? Why then do you not accept married women, single mothers, women who were previously married, women over 26?
Isn’t that discrimination, too? Is it because, these days, it is too risqué to discriminate the LGBT community because they are more outspoken and more relentless?

How do you define discrimination? When a specific group do not get what they want, they call discrimination. When they get offended, they are being discriminated. Has discrimination being used loosely nowadays?

Pinoy Pride?

Everyone seems to be going gaga over the latest season of American Idol, including me. I have watched AI religiously this year and from day one, I have rooted for Motown-sounding, Joshua Ledet.

Filipino-Mexican contestant, Jessica Sanchez, has been the top favorite in the Philippines for obvious reasons. She is Filipino and well, she is good. No contest, Jessica, is indeed one of the best contestants ever in AI history. She is only 16 years old but her belting power is over the top.

Joshua Ledet, on the other hand, is an 18-year old true blue Southerner with this unbelievable bluesy, Ray Charles and James brown kind of voice that amazed me the very first time I heard him sing. Wow! Just one of a kind. He sounded very mature. And I have never heard a teenager that can do a great Ray Charles type of music.

Anyway, 99% of the Filipino population roots for Jessica and I belong to the other 1%. To each his own. I like Joshua’s voice better than Jessica. Belting is not new to the Filipino music industry. We have Sarah Geronimo, Charice Pempengco, Angeline Quinto and yes, the belting queen, Regine Velasquez. And this is the reason why I don’t find Jessica unique at all! I like to root for singers who have other things to offer.

Now, I get a lot of reaction when I say I like Joshua Ledet. Why not support our own, they say? Come on. This is not a contest based on race or nationality. This is about talent and it happens that I find Joshua more talented than Jessica. And yes, Jessica is not even 100% Filipino. She is Mexican and American. More American, I would say, because she was born and raised in the US and does not even speak Filipino. So, liking someone based on nationality or race over talent is plain ridiculous. You can’t force me to like someone just because he or she is Filipino or remotely Filipino for that matter.

I like Joshua Ledet because he is special. He has the potential to reintroduce the good, old, Motown sound to the world. But yeah, he already got booted out of the finals. I just have to rest on the fact that winning the top spot on American Idol does not ensure a successful, lasting career in the music industry. Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Katharine McPhee; they all made it to the top without hitting the top spot at AI. I am positive Joshua Ledet will get what he is due soon as he gets record deals from outside AI production.

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.