Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pilipinas Forum 11: Women's Issue and Parental Responsibility

I notice that there is big reader interests in "Pilipinas Forum" series, which are the columns that I submitted to inq7.net more than 10 years ago. It's good to re-read those arguments and debates made 10 years ago, and how many of those points and facts remain true until today.

I re-titled the exchange to include parental responsibility -- parents' responsibilities to their kids, to their spouses, to their friends. At the end of the day, when there is more personal and parental responsibility in running people's own lives, we need less government responsibility in building a more peaceful and less corrupt society.
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Exchanges on Women’s Issue

June 27-July 1, 2001

Consider this situation:

1. Mr. X is engaged to a 22-year old Filipina; he is 40.

2. The parents and family of the Pinay, gave their blessings to Mr. X and their daughter, to get married, even if he is still married to his wife, the mother of their three children.

3. The parents of this Pinay, only had the youngest child as their "hope". Hope for what? Hope to get out of poverty? Pinays have a bad reputation in the US of marrying US citizens, for their citizenship, and the money of the US citizen. Specially if the US citizen had been previously married and there is a huge age gap between the US citizen and the Pinay.

Personally, I am confused with the Filipino values. Why would you even give your blessings to your daughter to have a relationship with a married man, no matter what he says about his marital situation - that his wife left him for another man.

I do not understand why some women get involved with married men. Can't a woman let a married man figure out how to get out of his mess first, before getting involved with him? Woman, get involved with a bachelor not with a married man, no matter what he says about his marital situation. If he can not show you any proof of the dissolution of marriage, don't get involved. I had seen women trapped in this situation. Forever na lang silang querida. Eventually, the guy moves on to the next conquest.

I thought before, being a single mom is better than being single and not a mom at all. I have met a lot of single women, and they are enjoying their lives. I got to know one, who died a single woman. She had a full life.

Hay naku, ang sama na nga ng tingin sa mga Pinay sa US eh, (with regards to the issue of "mang-aagaw ng asawa ng may asawa") pinasasama pa ng mga tulad nitong "innocent barrio lass" like this 22-year old Pinay from Palawan.

-Jojo delos Reyes-MacAllister

Dear Jojo, et al,

About this "stupidity" of some of our female folks. I charge it to the conditioning, sort of brainwashing by parents or elders on their children. They load their children with guilt feelings and "utang na loob" admonitions for all the formers' "sacrifices" to the latter.

Such parents see their children as investments for their old age and for sharing the burden of taking care of the younger siblings. Each child is not considered as a distinct human being with certain inalienable rights at that, more so than adults. This is sheer cruelty because the tender mind of the child since the early days are defenseless against such onslaught.

-Roy Picart
 
This is also the dysfunctional aspect of the much lionized "Filipino Family" and "family values". Because of poverty, too much hype about the benefits of overseas work, and Disneyland/Hollywood culture, parents sometimes end up as pimps of their children.

This is where encouraging the next generation of Pinoys and Pinays to develop as individuals becomes crucial. It would be to their benefit (as well as the nation's) to encourage them to strike out on their own and cut the umbilical cord to their families of origin.

-Dino Subingsubing

Jojo, I agree with your sentiments. Here in NZ, especially where I live where there are very few immigrant Pinoy families, about 90% of the Filipinas here are married to Kiwis, and yes, most of them are "expected" to regularly send money and other stuff for relatives in the Phils. I even know of one who paid for her sister to come here and when her sister's visitor visa was about to expire, the older sister "forced" the younger to "find a Kiwi" and get married so she can stay here. The older sister said that she's already spent heaps on their relatives in the Phils. it's now her younger sister's turn to do so.

-Arlene G. Ozanne
 
Jojo: "I do not understand why some women get involved with married men."

The reverse side of this statement is, "I don't understand why married men are unfaithful to their wives and in the process, are cruel to their children".

I know of a batch from a girl's school which statistic is as follows: Only 3 of the 23 who are married still believe that their husbands have been faithful to them. The 20 are (a) either separated (legally or physically) or (b) still living with and are giving their husbands a second (maybe, nth) chance because (b.1.) they still love their husbands; or (b.2.) of the proverbial "for the sake of the children" reasoning. I do not know if this is a representative batch.

Jojo, you and I know that women do seek the ideal scenario - get involved with the right guy at the right time for the right reason. (Many of my friends say that it is rare to have all three, so pick any two na lang daw. Huwag na lang kaya.) The situation you described involves the worst possible combination: the wrong guy (married); the wrong time (young barrio lass with no experience or knowledge with the ways of the world); and the wrong reason (plain economics). This is recipe for trouble for the poor woman. But it takes two to tango and the exploitative married man should be hanged, too.

It hurts to think about this but it happens everyday. What can we do?

-Gina L

As for married men who decide to philander-I know a number of men who justify their activities by saying that they desire love elsewhere or they need more sexual fulfillment/variety. Ako naman, issue ko diyan honesty. Why don't they just tell the wives? Sagot nila, they normally don't want to separate--magastos. May hatian so property--among other reasons. They also cite children, etc. Don't you think they're creeps?

As for women, how do they protect themselves? Personally, I think that women should value themselves so much that they won't settle for a married man who's still very much with his wife --that's only second best. Self-esteem ang issue diyan.

Having a relationship with a married man for economic reasons is akin to prostitution. No judgments on my part--but really, I think if you value yourself as a person--will you get involved? If it's the family that's pushing the girl-kawawa naman ang babae. Values formation ang sagot diyan.

Education, reorientation will be necessary. We were not trained to question certain assumptions. In grade school, I had a teacher who would drum it into our minds that we would be married to rich businessmen who own their own companies, politicians, judges, justices-but we would never be that ourselves. If we asked the reasons behind certain statements, we were marked as rebels and punished
accordingly. So, in a sense, we were not made to value ourselves, make our own judgments.

Parang ganoon pa rin ang kultura-second class lang ang babae. Puwedeng ibenta ng pamilya-gawing prostitute. And the woman won't complain precisely because of that orientation. For the enlightened women-they know what to do. Hay naku-so much work to do. Filipino women must learn to value themselves as their own person.

-Vicky Suarez

There seem to be two separate issues running through the discussion started by Jojo.

The first issue involves philandering husbands. It really has nothing to do with nationality age, nor culture for that matter. Unfaithful husbands are a facet of any society which makes the topic interesting because one could argue that the ultimate reasons for such must lie somewhere in the nature of man itself for it to be universal.

The second issue revolves around the mail-order bride phenomenon, which I think is more of a economic issue, not even gender related - I really do not think that the marital status of the man was a prime consideration of that young barrio lass. If she is able to stomach blindly going to a foreign land and leaving her family, breaking up another family will not be too difficult.

I noticed during the PF gathering at the house of Sam that many here have been reading the book of Jared Diamond "Guns, Germs, and Steel". I enjoyed the book so much that I began to look for his other books. One book is entitled "Third Chimpanzee" and it seems like a natural precursor as it dealt more onto the nature of man, while the latter dealt with the evolution of human societies.

First, he cited pretty interesting data on unfaithfulness. A useful proxy was data obtained from the delivery rooms of hospitals. Basically, he was able to obtain data, which showed whether the father of the child was indeed the husband of the mother. The results were startling. About 25% of all births in the
United States had fathers different from the husband of their mother. This proxy actually under-estimates the size of unfaithfulness, naturally, not all trysts result in children - although he made adjustments for this and this does not cover the case of mothers who do not have husbands.

He had pretty complex, detailed arguments but basically, he says that men instinctively want to propagate their genes and if they can get a free ride they will.

Basically, this reasoning is strongly grounded in the assumption that we are a product of our animal heritage. Surely, the human spirit can overcome such beastly urges. True, this theory is not an all encompassing one, however, I do suppose it explains one factor for unfaithfulness which should not be ignored.

Speaking of animal instincts, I suppose the most basic one is survival. This explains the case of the mail order bride. In my mind, this is a more extreme thing than prostitution because at least the prostitute gets to go home after one night and gets paid for her efforts - for lack of a better term, we could refer to this as retail side of the human flesh bazaar. The mail order bride seems to be more on the wholesale side of things, she is basically selling herself for the rest of her life.

I suppose there are exceptions to this hasty generalization. However, the question must be asked, why do so many of these marriages involve a man often twice the age of the woman? Furthermore, why in almost every case is the man always American and the bride Filipina?

-Vic Limlingan, Jr.

Sometimes the issue of adultery /infidelity doesn't have anything to do with sex, lust or what not. Ang nagtutulak sa mga lalaki at babae na pumatol sa asawa ng may asawa ay mga isyu ng abandonment, unmet needs (mula sa kanilang mga magulang, katulad ng pagmamahal at pagkalinga) at iba pang psycho-emotional needs related to their family of origin.

Oftentimes, what men or women (especially the younger ones) are really looking for are Father or Mother in their relationships.

For the unfortunate person who is unaware of these needs/issues/"demons"/"baggages", this is translated into the need to have sex with, run away with, enter into a relationship with the married person. It's seeking the solution externally to a problem that can be resolved only by the person's looking within himself/herself and confronting her/his demons.

Again, the dysfunctional (dark side) of the much-touted FIlipino family is implicated - overbearing parental authority, rigid roles ("ang babae ay pambahay lamang", "ang tunay na lalaki ay hindi umiiyak") and stereotypes.

Kaya ang mahalaga, maturuan
sana natin ang mga susunod pa sa atin na bago pumasok sa pag-aasawa or any other romantic/sexual relationship, at least malinaw sa kanila that they see their partners for who they are, not for what they expect them to be.

The proper response, I believe, in these cases is not to judge, but to LISTEN to their stories, EMPATHIZE and assist them in confronting what needs to be faced and resolved. Come to think of it, bakit nga ba walang ADULTERERS' ANONYMOUS? he-he.

-Dino Subingsubing

Domestic abuse is a crime committed predominantly on women, by men. The children are also greatly affected by domestic abuse. Domestic abuse happens in different economic strata, in different races, different religions. Usually it is perpetrated by a male member of the family.

This is one experience that women are still ashamed to talk about in public, because the batterer (and the society at large) make the women feel that it is the women's fault that they were battered by their partners. It is unfortunate that men hold most of the powerful positions in the society, that this kind of abuse, predominantly committed to women by men, can thus be relegated to the side, as not as important as issues of economic and political substance.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE.

Please let us educate our people to stop treating women as second class citizens. Let us examine ourselves if we had demeaned women's roles as "mere" housewife, or if we had poked fun at "old maids".

Maybe it is time, to wake up to the twenty-first century, be more forward thinking. Let us educate our women with regards to their rights, and the rights of their children. Fathers, empower your daughters. Parents, give the same rules to your sons and to your daughters.

Maraming salamat sa mga nagbigay at magbibigay pa ng pansin sa mga issues ng kababaihan.

-Jojo delos Reyes-MacAllister

Jojo, let us start by empowering ourselves. Transformation of society starts with the self. I can see that you have started that process for yourself but other women will not be "liberated" or "enlightened" unless they make the choice first.

As mothers, teachers, employers, bosses, women can exert influence over the attitudes and values of others. We can work within that sphere--and move on to bigger circles--join women's groups, write articles, engage in other consciousness raising activities, etc.

-Vicky Suarez

This is exactly where the arguments are divided along gender lines, even in the
US. Some males defend Sobero. Some females say, "do we care if he is beheaded?" He did not even WAIT for the dissolution of his marriage, before embarking on a new relationship.

Actually some American men also say, "I am not sending my
US soldiers to the Philippines, to rescue someone like THAT guy!"

Sorry... the effects of dysfunctional families because of men who did not stay committed to their marriage vows (tapos nag-anak pa!), have a big impact in the lives of Americans.

What you are saying here, Vic, is if a husband found another woman he desires to have an affair with, he can just say, "all right, I am leaving my wife now for you. On the day, I decide to separate from my wife, I am now technically free to do as I wish."

If we Filipinos are legitimizing illicit affairs of married people, maybe Filipinos back in the
Philippines, should have divorce available for every Filipinos na lang. Para naman, magka ayusan ng separation of properties din, support for the children in the previous marriage, alimony for the previous wife. Hindi iyang, parang iiwanang parang basahan iyong dating asawa at mga anak. And then the fruits of the conjugal properties will be enjoyed by the mistress/es.

Have you read the news before about Erap who built a townhouse for Laarni Enriquez on the conjugal property of Loi and Erap? Then Erap said, "Kung si Loi, di nagreklamo, kayo pa kaya?" Did anyone actually believe Erap with his argument? Do you really believe hindi nagreklamo si Loi?

Ayan, nakarma tuloy si Laarni at si Erap.
Kung di dahil sa Boracay Mansion ni Laarni Enriquez, di wala sanang Jose Velarde account!

-Jojo delos Reyes-MacAllister

Dear Victor,


Could you please clarify what you exactly mean by "Mail Order Bride"?

To the best of my knowledge, it is not possible to order a Filipina by catalog, to be delivered to her "buyer's" doorstep in the
US or elsewhere. If you know of any such service, please let me know, so I can save a lot of money on lawyers and can cut short the 2-3 years it will take me as a German citizen to get a US green card for my Filipina wife.

But I assume you are talking about the pen pal or introduction agencies and web sites, where thousands of women from less privileged countries look for foreign husbands? I admit that some operations and their customers are sleazy, and some of the women have ulterior motives (other than trying to flee poverty, and raise a family in a healthier environment), but that doesn't warrant these broad insulting statements.

Are Filipinas who meet Filipinos the same way (over the internet) "worse than prostitutes" as well, or does a Filipina become a prostitute by getting involved with a foreigner?

If a poor Pinay marries a rich Pinoy, does that make her a prostitute? Are women looking for life partners in newspaper personal ads on the "human flesh bazaar"?

Why are many of the Filipinas in the internet ads mostly "ending up" with older American men? Because they are looking for stereotypes: They look for older men in search of more maturity, reliability, stability. They look towards the
US, because that's where the good life is supposed to be, that's where everybody is nice, rich, beautiful.

These women are maybe naive, maybe unrealistic, but to label them all as whores on the human flesh market? I think you owe a lot of Filipinas an apology.

-Peter Scholtz

Hello Peter,

I'm no longer that conversant with women and gender issues but as I remember it, there's a law against mail order brides--in effect since 1991 or 1992. Basically, what that law punishes is the offering of services (catalog type) which is a matching type service--for a fee.

Since at that time, internet was not yet in vogue, what the law tackled was simply the catalog type of services (brochures, magazine ads, etc). With the advent of internet, these services became available on the website. To get around the law, they call these services other things: i.e. pen pal sites/dating sites/etc. These sites feature women--mainly from the third world countries (i.e. the Columbia, Russia, Philippines) but many studies have said that Filipinas make up the most number of MOBs (mail-order brides). Come-ons to foreigners are that Filipinas are demure, not career oriented, home-oriented, devoted to children, good at domestic chores, etc. (Ideal wife half a century ago) Some ads even say that Filipinas are not the type to fight a divorce, will not ask for alimony or child support. However, there are men who think that Filipinas are only after money, or are the type to send support their families in the Philppines or even bring their entire clan to whatever foreign land they settle in (i.e. the
US).

There are many cases of women who had been abused by their husbands, killed even, without justice having been obtained. There are too many horror stories not only in the
US but also in places like Australia and Germany.

I don't think Victor has passed judgment on these women who become MOBs. As for prostitution, from my point of view, marrying anyone for economic reasons alone would be akin to prostitution--its tantamount to lack of integrity because you're selling yourself, your whole life for something like money which can be earned in some other way--without having to sacrifice dignity or honor.

-Vicky Suarez

Out of curiosity, I went to http://www.yahoo.com
At the search dialogue box, I typed, "Filipina". Below is what appeared:

http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Classifieds/Personals/Asian_
Women_Seeking_Foreign_Men/Filipina_Women/

Among the site listings:

All Filipina - penpal dating services for men seeking single filipina women for friendship and marriage.
Asian Island Girls - features Philippine women who desire friendship and marriage with Western men.
Asian Romance - with information and pictures of Filipino women.
Filipina Date - dating site for women wishing to meet men.
Filipina Forever - provides pen pal and introduction services.
Filipina Match - features filipina ladies looking for love, romance, and penpals.
Girls of the
Philippines - introduction service for men seeking marriage to a Filipino girl.
Intimate Submissives - dating service for Western men seeking single, submissive women who wish to form friendships or marriage.
World Class Service - mail order brides from the
Philippines.

-Jojo de los Reyes MacAllister

Victor should keep in mind that it works both ways. There are many stories of young Filipinas and Russian women marrying "rich" old Americans (or any wealthy individual for that matter) simply for the money and then leaving them once they have immigration and/or financial status. Maybe these cases are poetic justice for the instances where these young women's situations are exploited - which I think is the real tragedy that Victor was alluding to.

Everyone makes a choice, and maybe some young filipinas choose to marry someone they are not in love with to better provide for their poor families back home or to escape poverty. I cannot control the choices others are "free" to make. Perhaps the real issue is understanding why these filipinas feel the need to make the choice to marry someone they do not love or "prostitute" themselves. I think there is elements of truth in both Victor's and Peter's assessment.

-Ria Janusczsak

Dear Ria,

I'd like to invite you to go to this page: bagongpinay which is website set up for MOBs and other Pinays in the
US. Many of the reactions to Vic's post in this forum are similar to those elicited by the founder when she set up her page. It also features two interesting studies made on the MOBs in the late `90s.

I think that the proportion of women taking advantage of "rich old men" and leaving them to women who remain in oppressive situations is rather disparate. There are more cases of abused women rather than abused men.

The undercurrent of despair and the lack of self-worth that underlie those kinds of choices are what I think should be addressed. A change of economic status will not necessarily change consciousness. Witness these Pinays who become MOBs and as a result contribute to the financial upliftment of not just their immediate family but that of their entire clans. That result would only perpetuate the belief that the way out poverty and hardship is to sell one's self. So, as in the way of all things, other women will follow suit under the belief that if it works for one-it must work for others notwithstanding horror stories.

I once had to visit this lawyer who turned out to be a specialist in assisting women to get US visas. Believe me, his office was crawling with Pinays who had fianc├ęs to finance their trip to the
US. Out of curiosity I interviewed one who was a 29-year old who is a nurse here but was willing to marry a 65 year old Texan for financial security. I was wondering why she just had not applied as a nurse overseas. I have no idea if it's because she didn't meet the necessary requirements to qualify her for a post abroad or if she simply was responding to certain beliefs: that she had to get married soon because she was approaching 30; that it's better to have a husband to support her than for her to work; or anyway, life is so hard, it's ok to sell herself.

That made me think that maybe we don't have our values/priorities right as a people. But then again, can we blame them? It's all so difficult to understand these things.

-Vicky Suarez

Dear Peter,

Let me begin by saying I am idealistic. I think too people should marry if they are in love. They should not marry because one is a good provider. This may be a mitigating circumstance, however, not the overriding reason. In fact, I go so far as to say that if one fellow marries (or exchanges sexual favors with) another almost solely because of material concessions, then that person is prostituting themselves.

So in answer to your question - " If a poor Pinay marries a rich Pinoy, does that make her a prostitute ? " - well, if the motives of the Pinay are economic (in the terms I described in the preceding paragraph), then I would call that prostitution. Incidentally, it has nothing do with gender or race. Lets talk permutations. If a poor Pinoy marries a rich Pinay that two would be prostitution, provided the reasons of the Pinoy were economic. If a rich Ethiopian man marries a poor Alaskan woman, and the motives of the woman were purely economic then this too would be prostitution.

Just a question. Why do so many Filipinas in the internet end up with older (foreign) men - because they are looking for "maturity, reliability, stability"? My observation however is the majority of Filipinas here (in the
Philippines) end up with young men about the same age as themselves. So if they end up with foreign men twice their age are we then to conclude that young Filipino men have the same "maturity, reliability, stability" as older foreign men? Maybe, just maybe, it is because these rich foreign men have a lot of money? If this stands out as your main criteria before you go out with anyone, what does this say about you?

You say ".They look towards the
US, because that's where the good life is supposed to be, that's where everybody is nice, rich, beautiful." I agree. That alone does not make them whores. They become whores when the means they use to enter this rich in magical land involves marrying a foreigner. When they are willing to exchange sexual favors or marriage for a chance at entering this rich and magical land.

It is clear that you are an exceptional case. You are quite fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with some woman from the
Philippines. However, I think it is wrong to assume that the rest of the country is anywhere near as fortunate as your wife (or yourself despite having to pay all those dollars to get her visa).

Speaking of apology. Let me say I am sorry. I am so sorry that so many of my compatriots live in sub-human conditions. I am sorry that children in this country are not able to go to school because they have to sell newspapers on the street. I am so sorry that families have to be broken up because one parent has to go abroad in order to earn a living. I am so sorry that thousands of women here see their only hope of a better life somewhere else and will do next to anything to get there. I am sorry that I wrote of these things lightly without dwelling on the awesome social injustice in this country. I am sorry that I seemed to condemned the woman when I should have condemned the situation they were in and they system that perpetuates it.

PS: Was just looking at the posting I sent (the one you replied to) and it just occurred to me I never used the word "whore" which you claim I labeled them. I believe that when you say "labeling", you call them that word verbatim.

True, I implied that they were prostituting themselves, which I still do. I further implied that they were prostituting themselves to a greater extent then a "normal" prostitute. But the word "whore" never came up - the very term itself degrades these people in a manner I never intended and dwells more on the person rather then merely the act which I honestly was concentrating on.

-Vic Limlingan, Jr.

Dear Victor -

I am deeply saddened by your myopic definition of prostitution, especially the way you use it with reference to mail-order brides, penpals, etc. It actually made me look it up in the dictionaries I have here, lest I have the "wrong" definition. My dictionaries define prostitution as promiscuous/indiscriminate sexual intercourse for payment. I suppose what your definition lacked were the terms promiscuous and indiscriminate, and these make a huge difference.

Admittedly though, there was a time, that I looked down on mail-order brides, penpals, etc. and I know now that was because of pure and simple IGNORANCE on my part. I've lived in
Australia and New Zealand where there was a proliferation of them, and for a long, long time, I refused to date anyone or even be in a situation with someone who has a "whiter" or "darker" skin than mine because I didn't want to be mistaken for a mail-order bride. Gee, I didn't even want to walk beside my American (male) boss in the Phils. But that was long before I met these mail-order brides and penpals, before I got to know them really well and got to understand what they went through, are going through, and will be going through as a consequence of their choice of husband. That was before I learned to look beyond the foreigners' skin colour, their accent, their height and got to know their souls - and gee, wouldn't you know, they're just like us Pinoys. I could go on and on again and "introduce" you to many of them - my friends, but I don't think that would be of much use. I suppose my point is, we have to stop stereo-typing people and prostitution is too harsh a word to use. Please reconsider.

-Arlene Garces Ozanne

Dear Arlene,

It is unfortunate that my posting hurt you. That was never my intention. Jojo posted his findings on "Yahoo" regarding Filipina. I am sure you are aware of these web sites. I do not think it is presumptuous for me to assume that this is the norm. How do you think these woman are being treated? What is happening to the vast majority of them?

Dear Jojo,

The issue of divorce itself however is very complex and I think out of the scope of this discussion. Yes, it is wrong for a man to leave his wife just like that but if he does not love his wife and they are constantly fighting, and it so happens that he happens to meet his soul mate who just happens to be half his age and from a poor impoverished country on the other side of the world over the internet, then maybe divorce is justified.

Incidentally, I have always had this little theory which I kept to myself regarding Loi. Loi seemed to always dependant on Erap which is perhaps why she tolerated all these mistresses and stood by his side. I suppose I should know better by now then to try and read the mind of a woman, but in the past it may well be that she tolerated this because she had no means to stand on her own.

Now she happens to be Senator elect - she now wields tremendous power on her own and Erap, well, he has his money but not much power. Now that she can stand on her own, will she stand by her man? Unlike Hillary Clinton I doubt she has Presidential ambitions - no need for that family look for a campaign. Just today she made a statement saying that she will not ask Erap for advice.

-Vic Limlingan, Jr.

Is there any help for these women, out there in the
Philippines?

I say that domestic abuse is worse, because it is carried on for so many months and years. Being killed at one time, is better, than being inflicted pain for a long time.

I am concerned that in the
Philippines, there is no such campaign to protect the women and children from domestic abuse. (Meron na ba ngayon?) Domestic abuse, whether physical or verbal, should be made unacceptable.

If a husband leaves the wife, that is kinda messy. Does he clean up his mess? Does he make sure, that everything is put in paper, regarding the financial support the children will get. How about the medical bills and dental bills for the kids? Is there a bank account set up for the runaway husband to deposit money for the support of the children? How about the wife that is left behind, does she get any financial support from the husband who decided he no longer love her and runs away with another woman? What happens to the businesses put together during their marriage? Does the husband runaway with them too, leaving behind the wife, with no more access to the businesses, and with the new woman enjoying the fruits of these conjugal properties?

I take back my suggestion about divorce. I am not quite sure if that is the answer. I think the answer is making sure, the husband who abandons the wife and children, should be made to carry on his financial obligations, specially to the children. We have laws for that in the
Philippines, but either the women do not avail of them, or they have no money to get a lawyer, or just too distraught to deal with the husband.

I would prefer though that people think about the way we treat women in the
Philippines. I hope first wives (and their children), left by their husbands be given justice.

I would prefer that there will be campaigns to educate the people. Hindi lang ang mga masa ang kailangan ng edukasyon. Lahat tayo kailangan nating baguhin ang ibang value system natin sa
Philippines na obsolete na.

Let us help together to reduce the gender inequality in the
Philippines.

-Jojo delos Reyes-MacAllister

Hi Jojo,

There are women's groups in the
Philippines dealing with domestic abuse and other women's problems. I don't know if you had already checked out SIBOL. There are also women's legal bureaus in existence in the Phils. Ging Ursua, your former teacher in Persons and Family Relations, is the head of one. Women's Crisis Center, founded and formerly headed by the late Rock Tiglao, has been in existence for ten years or more. There have also been great strides made in the area of legislation of laws advocating women's rights: i.e. amendment of the law on rape--which took almost a decade of persistent advocacy. Ging Ursua and Eleanor Conda , I think, were in the forefront of this paticular campaign.

As for marriage--the law cannot legislate love. That was very much emphasized in our class on Family Relations. It can only regulate property relations. Ika nga ni Yorac, according to the Civil Code, marriage is only for purposes of property relations. One of the things that makes me wary about marriage is the difficulty of getting out of it. No divorce in the Phils. except under the Sha'ria law. Annulments are so difficult to get, what with the crazy
Santos ruling which requries proof of near psychosis to prove psychological incapacity to enter into a marriage. Dapat ma-legislate ang divorce. Personally, I think it's sheer hypocrisy that keeps the State from supporting such a law.

If a man wants to leave his wife--can you stop that? A woman can also always leave her husband/ partner, di ba? She does not have to put up with abuse or a relationship that no longer works. As for multiple sexual partners--that's in the realm of the personal. If two adults enter into an agreement where they can have multiple partners--I don't think the State should interfere. Personal iyan. Who are we to judge? I know a gay couple who do that. Really, I don't see anything wrong with it. It's an equal relationship, it hurts no one as far as I know. But I admit, I still have to meet a heterosexual couple in a similar situation.

I think the call is to strengthen ourselves. To be autonomous women. To be able to say to ourselves (with absolute conviction) I am my own person, not just anyone's daughter or wife or mistress or whatever. Women also have to learn to create their own wealth and not look to men for their sustenance. That is why, I think that it is so important to have a profession or some other economic
activity that will help a woman be her own person. Part of independence is financial in nature. In that way, men will be forced to respect women. As it is, women generally don't.

-Vicky Suarez

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