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.