Friday, September 28, 2012


It's official.

The kerida is the new hot pan de sal.  

In other words, in na in na ngayon ang mga kabit.  Sorry, ever-loving-ever-loyal-ever-suffering wives.  The mistress is the new flavor of the month. As a matter of fact, she is selling faster than ... uh, chicken inasal ... because box office results irrevocably and irrefutably point to the triumph of the kulasisi over the maybahay or the ilaw ng tahanan.

Yes, people of this archipelago that has remained the only nation on the planet not to recognize divorce:  in our stuffy, constipated, ultra-rightist Catholic country where condoms are considered the rubbers of Satan --- we are now celebrating the age of the commercial other woman.

But wait!  Lest we be misunderstood by this celebratory tribute, certain clarifications and qualifications need to be resolved.

Two blockbuster movies in the span of one year assure not only the movie producers but also the public that mabenta talaga ang mga home wreckers.  

But these are not your traditional buwisit sa buhay women who come as curses meant to facilitate the downfall of man because of his untamed libido.  No, no, no!  We have evolved farther than that. We have advanced tremendously.

After all, the phenomenon of the querida mia in Philippine popular culture has been around since Pinoy machismo became a quality measuring admiration rather than admonition.  There is no doubt about that either.  When politicians who reach the higher if not the highest offices of the land flaunt their mistresses and put them on the same pedestal as their legal wives, what can you expect?

To exercise pagka-barako, you need willing and able women to fulfill the macho needs.

In a nation that boasts of such precious devotion to the tenets of Christianity, we turn the blind side on men who can't keep their zippers closed and who need to affirm their masculinity by spreading their seed not only shamelessly but with a sense of pride.

Thus rose the status of the querida. Well, yes: gone were the days when women who are certified adulterers were made to wear scarlet letters to isolate them from the rest of law-abiding (ergo decent) society.  Nowadays, it has become a status to be a kabit. 

(And sometimes they are even better dressed than the real wives.  But that, I guess, is part of one's professional requirements, di ba?)

I remember quite clearly someone of significance in local society declare that,"If a woman chooses to be a kabit, she better be a big-time mistress than some slut who settled for the dregs of the earth."  Oo nga naman. If a woman has decided that she will go to hell and be condemned for all eternity, then she better make the most out of her human existence.  "If you are going to the fires of hell, you might as well be dressed in diamonds and brought to the gateway of Satan in an expensive car and not riding an overloaded passenger jeep."

Yes, there is great logic and practicality in that.

Considering how mistresses are being portrayed onscreen nowadays --- it is all about practicality thrown in with a dash of really intense emotion called --- uh, true love.  Self-effacing, unconditional and almost masochistic love.

But the argument goes much farther than the more than P200M gross of the most successful movie about romanticized adultery. 

It has everything to do with the metamorphoses of the femme fatale from vicious slut to not-so-virgin martyr. 

This is, after all, the digital age when women can have the time of their lives and unashamedly go around carrying paperback copies of Shades of Grey and announce that they are titillated by the prospect of an S and M relationship.  Nanang ko po! This is the age when kolehiyalas and even upright mall-shopping wives can actually declare that they fantasize the use of handcuffs and whips in their bedrooms as long as the male in the room looks good in an Armani or Hugo Boss.

What else can shock you?

So what's the big deal about boinking a married man if you are ... in love?

Oh, but we have seen this dilemma portrayed and personified since the heyday of Tagalog Ilang-Ilang and Virgo Productions. And that was the time when only twenty per cent of Filipino movies were in color. This is the same stuff as the Lolita Rodriguez-Eddie Rodriguez-Marlene Dauden love triangles in Sapagkat Kami ay Tao Lamang.  

This was no longer the age of Carol Varga or Bella Flores who portrayed husband poachers by looking like harpies, complete with arched eyebrows drawn pencil thin, red lips and nails painted in equally sinful crimson to look like talons.  The modern day keridas are vulnerable lost girls (Anne Curtis in No Other Woman) or vestal virgins who surrendered their virtue out of love and sacrifice (Bea Alonso in The Mistress).  

Twenty-first century mistresses justify their fallen status because "they are confused" or "they are in dire need of love" or worse ... "they did this out of need." This is the same cry for help that Lovi Poe portrayed in Thy Neighbor's Wife.  This is the dilemma so emphasized by the character of Sari from the screenplay of Vanessa Valdez.  And this is the interpretation of that obsessive character played by Anne Curtis in Roel Bayani's box office hit.

They were all victims of love.  And that changes the rules of the game, you know.  Love!

All put simply --- times have changed.  The kerida is now the victim. You got that right: the other woman is the aggrieved party. She has assumed the role of the suffering waif because circumstances have conspired for her to be in that fallen state ... and if she has hurt anybody, it is because she has no choice but to do so.  Fate has been so unkind that for her to find happiness, she unwittingly hurts somebody ... who just happens to be another woman.

The mistress ... rather than the legal and recognized wife ... is the new heroine.

Whew! If anybody should be so narrowminded or bigoted to condemn a poor girl for being waylaid on the twisted and damned path, then shame on you.  Hindi ka na naawa?  She only got there because ... she needed to do so ... and more so, because she fell in love.

A moment of thought here.  And really serious contemplation. 

Is there actually absolution introduced to the situation because of the circumstances that compelled a woman to have an affair with a married man?  Was it not her choice as well to be in such a situation ...and even if the legal wife is as despicable as the witch who took care of Rapunzel or even the stepmother who treated Cinderella really shabbily ... she is still the legal wife, right?

(As my mother used to say when issues like these were discussed on our family dining table, "Buntot mo, hila mo!" You chose to be in that situation ... so don't go around saying that you had no alternative! She would usually add, "Tonta!" to emphasize her moral stand about mistresses.)

But then again, we are not talking about real life here.  Yes ... this  is called romance.

Movies are not meant to be taken as guidelines for evolving social behavior.  They are merely escapist entertainment... that just happens to shape social behavior and determine moral fiber.

Box office success is measured by all the swooning and braying of the audience by the sheer electricity of John Lloyd Cruz' puppy dog eyes looking at Bea Alonso's angelic face ... or meaty, beefy Derek Ramsay caressing the most desired body in the seven thousand isles of the Republica de Filipinas called Anne Curtis. 

What is even more interesting is that hoards of women ... middle aged women and housewives ... are actually crying and cheering for the kabit, watching and re-watching these movies over and over again.  This made a behavioral scientist wonder, "Are all these repressed Pinays actually fantasizing about being the kabits because they are so bored being the wives?"

Or they could be praying that in their next lifetime they will be reincarnated looking as beautiful as Bea or Anne?

I wouldn't be surprised.  

"Do you think if their husbands or boyfriends started practicing what these guys believe as their right to infidelity ... that all these handkerchief-squeezing women sympathizing with the cinematic kabits will also feel an iota of sympathy of the woman stealing their men?"

Hmmmm ... I thought ...

"Sige, tingnan nga natin ..." said my behavioral scientist friend.

I replied, "Eh, siguro kaya nga they want to be kabits na rin. For a change. For the experience."

After all, the kabit has more fun, leads a more exciting life ... and if you are going to look like Lovi Poe, Anne Curtis or Bea Alonso ... well, why not?  The kabit has become the new status symbol as media (not only films but also television) seems to say that, "It's OK to indulge in adultery because it adds spice and drama to life."

And at times like these ... who couldn't use a touch of drama here and there?

There is no room to be bored, otherwise you will be boring. So go for it, Girl!  There's that fairy tale affirmation in the movies!

But I guess the zealots of the Catholic Church are too preoccupied fighting their battle with the RH Bill to really give much concern to a trivial problem like this. It is really so harmless ... and even entertaining.  Yet the indispensability of condoms in such liaisons is practically a cardinal rule, right?

Let's not go there.

Besides, escapism ... especially in romance ... is the national anesthesia.  It keeps us from thinking about the circus in the senate, the Scarborough Shoal and December 21, 2012.

So I guess ... it is on with A Secret Affair --- coming soon at a theater near you.

And more kabits to come. Oh, these are such exciting amoral times.


Thursday, September 6, 2012


I am not even going to discuss politics.  Not even the Reproductive Health Bill which is the reason why this national perfidy is taking place.  

I am writing out of exasperation.  Add disgust to that.  And a feeling of utmost disillusionment.

I feel exasperated because this has been going on for weeks now and the level of discussion and argumentation has literally gone to the dogs.  No, let us not insult our canine friends to show how cheap and low it got.  Let us just say that I feel exasperated not only because of the brazenness exhibited by the events. I am even more dismayed by some reactions.

I am disgusted because this had to happen to people who should be the first to make sure that events like these do not and should not take place.  If the very people who should serve as examples of civility, decency and just downright respect for what is right from what is wrong --  are the ones who foist their sense of (a) entitlement  (b)ignorance or (c) unreasonable empowerment, then how do we expect anything better to happen to our country?

I feel disillusioned because the people who should be saying something are either keeping quiet or mumbling (whether apathetically or apologetically) that "it's all right" and that "we do this all the time" --- or worse, "what's the big deal?"

I am sorry, Sirs. But for me this is a big deal.

This is a big deal because people look up to your kind to embody the best and brightest of the country --- because you are wherever you are because we, the citizenry, placed you there.

This is a big deal because you give such casual statements, turn your backs on us and tell us to go fly a kite and not make an issue out of something that will be forgotten by the time Manny Pacquiao has another fight.

This is a big deal for me because I should respect the chosen individuals who have been privileged with the responsibility to make the laws of my country.  I would like to think that you guys are there not out of birth right --- but because the people put you there to protect us --- and to tell us: This is the way we are going to do it and, as your Chief Executive has said over and over and over again, this time we are going to follow the narrow but straight road.

We are not tolerating bullshit.  We are not allowing abuse of power.  We are going catch, try and get rid of all the hoods and hoodlums with all the power and might that is given to us because of our positions.

In other words, you are the elders of the land.  We look up to you because your actions should speak louder than your promises. Even your privilege speeches.  Why do you think the country literally fell on its knees crying when Jesse Robredo left too soon?  Because he didn't talk much. He just did what he had to do his way --- without drum rolls or chest beating.

OK. I should be the last to say that I am the paragon of good morals and that I aspire to be the next Filipino vying for canonization. That is not in my roster of present ambitions nor will it ever be a part of my bucket list.  But I still believe that there is what is right ... from what is wrong.

I am exasperated, disgusted and disillusioned because I am a teacher.

I have been a lot of things --- but I enjoy being a teacher most.

I guess in everything we choose to do in life, we are all teachers.  

We become teachers because others observe our actions, learn from our decisions even our mistakes and listen to our words.  

Even politicians are teachers because the country sees how they conduct their affairs through their intelligence, wisdom and demeanor.  The citizens look up to elected officials because they have been entrusted with the responsibility to draw the blueprint of the future of their constituents.

I am exasperated, disgusted and disillusioned because there is such irresponsibility and insensitivity with what is happening.

It is irresponsible to shrug off dishonesty and treat it like it's one of those things or that it is a fact of life. It is not only irresponsible but dangerous when the Elders of the Land are the ones saying this or not saying or doing anything at all to correct the mistakes.

It is insensitive because ... what moral authority can any teacher have if one of their students submits an assignment or a piece of research ripped off from another source without acknowledgement or attribution? How can a teacher say, "You are going to flunk this course because what you did was wrong ...and that this is cheating ... this is deplorable ... this is unacceptable?" What if the students looks at the teacher straight in the eye and replies, "But don't they do this all the time? So why is it such a crime when I do it?"

What sort of signals are we sending young people by all this calculating and strategic behavior?

Yes, we can laugh and make jokes about this.  

We can create worldwide trends bashing allegedly guilty parties and make such ingenious memes  to spread all over the internet to celebrate if not castrate personalities who we think have IQs that can challenge the depths of the Philippine Deep. We can try to outdo each other in concocting the cutest to the meanest jokes as if to immortalize this moment of buffoonery.

But we are not realizing the depth and scope of the consequences.  We may be cringing with disgust or anger at the turn of recent events and refuse to be amused by the circus --- but what sort of messages are we sending to our kids?  

That all this is just another bad joke?

That something wrong becomes right just because it is being done by so many at some time or the other?  Worse, it is a practice within the sacred halls of power in the kingdom?

That the newly discovered Eleventh Commandment is Thou Shalt Not Get Caught while the Twelfth reads Thou Shalt Not Admit a Mistake Even When Caught With Your Skivvies Down Your Ankles?

That you can just turn around and ignore the allegations without confronting the issues and addressing the problems because one day people will get sick and tired talking about it ... and the problem will go away?

What is funny is that ... they are right. We forget too easily because another newsworthy event will eventually pop and all will be forgotten? Or almost.  That in a year's time, no one will even remember these questions regarding propriety, honesty and ...even just good manners because other people have taken center stage and claimed the spotlight.

One day the laughter will die down ... and we will run out of jokes. 

But the signals have been sent loud and clear to the population ... the young population.

Everything will be all right ... if you just wait long enough for everyone to forget that there was (once upon a time) THIS problem.

Now this got me thinking: all this numbness and shortness of memory will lead us to amorality.  And that is far worse than just being immoral. That is when nobody give a damn about being right or wrong because we have surrendered all the distinction.

Instead, we just choose to laugh about it.