April 20, 2024

(Editors’ note: The Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on July 17, 2011)

With the exception of the Vatican (a state within a state) we are said to be the only nation left without a divorce law, as if the issue were of such urgency that needs to be addressed ASAP.
But anyone familiar or with an understanding of the Filipino temperament will tell you that the resulting chaos will be of such magnitude that it could seriously damage Filipino society if not the nation itself.

This is because of the unmindful “hiwalay kung hiwalay” Pinoy syndrome.
Regardless of backdrop, the breakup is of paramount importance, and never mind the consequences.
“Kung ayaw mo sa akin, ayaw ko rin sa iyo” typifies the Filipino false pride chicken.
Look at the married couples seeking annulment today, citing such foolish grounds like drunkenness, spending too much time with friends or barkada, being unable to provide for the needs of a family because of sheer laziness – defects that can be remedied without need of going separate ways.

And now divorce. Better than annulment actually, since the erring spouse will be sanctioned and required to pay alimony.
But a few observations about the Filipino. Unlike in other countries where the matter of alimony is often contested, a Pinoy will agree to pay anything even if he can’t afford it, hardly caring if he fails to make good on his promise later.
In all likelihood too, he will secretly stalk his estranged wife to check if she is seeing another while playing the field himself.

In sum, when it comes to emotions, the Pinoy has difficulty controlling his feelings – not only is he unable to hold his drink, he also does not know how to handle a woman (learn from King Richard in “Camelot”, when he sings that the only way to handle a woman is to love her, love her), and more pointedly, does not take rejection well, even if the cause of the separation was entirely his fault.
But if things are left alone, the Filipino has the remarkable capacity to change, to mend his errant ways as life goes on.
Divorce will not afford him that chance.

In my younger years, there were no Igorot fairies. But guess from which ethnic group most of them come from now? Not the Ibaloy, I can swear to that, nor the Kankana-ey, although there are a handful. Not all Ifugaos chew momma or chop off heads, and not all Kalingas relish sili, but I can safely name the northern Cordillera ethnic group where many gays come from.
In that province, they have everything – politicians, flirts, priests, cons, lawyers, engineers, contractors, landholders (possession is 9/10 of the law, their favorite tribal philosophy) – a truly curious mix of people.