Mr. Tacio, who hails from Davao, is a correspondent of the Asian edition of Reader’s Digest. He is the first and only Filipino journalist to have been elevated to the Hall of Fame in science reporting by the Philippine Press Institute. In 1999, the Rotary Club of Manila bestowed him the Journalist of the Year award. He is also East Asia’s contributing editor of the People & the Planet based in London.
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“Divorce is the second worst event in a person’s life. The worst event, of course, is marriage.” — Jarod Kintz, author of This Book Has No Title
It was God himself who instituted the first marriage. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh,” the book of Genesis (2:24) recorded.
“What God has joined together, let man not separate,” Jesus replied when asked by the Pharisees if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife (Mark 10:9).
Although the Philippines is considered the only Christian country in Asia, more and more Filipinos are favoring the legalization of divorce. According to a recent survey, more than half of Filipino adults 60% support divorce for “irreconcilably separated couples.”
This was the findings of a nationwide survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations in the last quarter of 2017. While 53% agreed, only 32% disagreed. Surprisingly, legalization of divorce was “very strong” among women.
In the said survey, the respondents were asked to give their opinion on this statement: “Married couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to divorce so that they can get legally married again.”
In a survey I conducted, whether they are in favor of divorce or not, most women answered affirmatively. “Yes, everybody deserves a second chance,” said a classmate who was once married but is now separated from her husband.
A Filipino who is now married to a German said that her Filipino husband left her together with his mistress. “I decided to divorce him so I can move on,” she explained. “I even thanked him for leaving me since my life is now better compared when I was with him.”
“I am in favor,” a cousin shared her thought. “So that her insecure mistress won’t bother me again even if my husband is already staying with her. I hope that my husband won’t forget his responsibilities to our children. I also want to find my forever, if ever there is still someone for me.”
An American, who is still very much married to his Asian wife, commented: “I notice many women in favor of divorce because men are not faithful (to them). I am in favor of following God’s law on divorce, which is forbidden, but pity the women who have unfaithful husbands.”
A Filipino who is now living in the United States said that personally, he is in favor of divorce. “If marriage can be saved, then save the marriage,” he explained. “If not, divorce is permitted biblically speaking. Read Malachi 2:16 and Matthew 19:6. If I’m in the situation wherein there is unfaithfulness and falling out of love, then I will set ourselves free.”
He further said: “If marriage is based on a lie or unfaithfulness or abuse, then it’s reasonable to file for divorce. Why prolong the agony to be with the wrong partner? You can still remain friends (or not) with your ex-husband or ex-wife if you wish (or not) but not under one roof as couple. The best practical thing is to move on after committing a wrong decision of marrying the wrong person. If you choose the right person to marry, then kudos to both of you.”
An American who is married to a Filipina is not in favor of divorce if children are already involved. “The husband and wife need to get their heads out of their butts and think of the children first,” he pointed out. “If they choose not too then they are being selfish and self-centered.”
“Divorce isn’t such a tragedy,” wrote Jennifer Weiner in Fly Away Home. “A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.”
In the Philippines, couples who want to end their marriage are given choices by way of legal separation (the state’s reprieve) or “nullify the marriage” (the Catholic Church’s absolution). The grounds are incorporated in the Family Code of the Philippines (approved under Executive Order No. 209).
In general, there is still no divorce in the Philippines. Although there’s one exception: to Muslims, who are allowed to divorce in certain circumstances. For those not of the Muslim faith, the law only allows annulment of marriages.
Aside from Vatican, the Philippines is the world’s only country without a divorce law after Malta legalized it 2011.
“Whether or not there is a divorce code, marriage break-up is rampant these days,” observed a counselor of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. In the past, however, problematic couples who come to her for counselling were able to reconcile their differences.
But such is the case today. “Now, the couples are more aggressive, mas mapupusok (more impulsive). They’ll do anything they want,” the counselor was quoted as saying by a national daily.
To be or not to be, asked William Shakespeare. “Marriage isn’t a love affair,” wrote Rosamunde Pilcher in “Wild Mountain Thyme.” “It isn’t even a honeymoon. It’s a job. (It’s) a long hard job, at which both partners have to work, harder than they’ve worked at anything in their lives before.
“If it’s a good marriage, it changes, it evolves, but it does on getting better,” Pilcher continued. “I’ve seen it with my own mother and father. But a bad marriage can dissolve in a welter of resentment and acrimony. I’ve seen that, too, in my own miserable and disastrous attempt at making another person happy. And it’s never one person’s fault. It’s the sum total of a thousand little irritations, disagreements, idiotic details that in a sound alliance would simply be disregarded, or forgotten in the healing act of making love. Divorce isn’t a cure; it’s a surgical operation, even if there are no children to consider.”
Or, on second thought, staying married may still be an option. “Staying married may have long-term benefits,” P.J. O’Rourke said. “You can elicit much more sympathy from friends over a bad marriage than you ever can from a good divorce.”
Sept 2018 Health and Lifestyle