Cheating Hearts

by Ana P. Santos

There are many stories about it and recently, more than one movie (with the same actors appearing in it. We might add). Do Filipino men simply have cheating hearts and is the Filipina destined to be a martyr who will stand by her man? Ana P. Santos checks what’s in between the sheets

Maricel had just discovered diving and was out on most weekends for short dives outside the metropolis. She liked the adrenalin rush and it was a great way to meet guys. The then 21 year old admits meeting guys was part of the appeal of the sport.

It was during a dive trip that she first met Bob, a hunky 24 year old, notorious charmer. Over one bonfire, heady and intoxicated, she and Bob kissed.

She was thrilled by the experience and told her other friends about it the next morning. One of her friends burst her balloon of giddiness and told her Bob was married. “I was really surprised. I knew he was a flirt, but he always seemed to be living up the single bachelor life. He was always diving with us on weekends and if some of us would meet for a mid-week drinking session, he would join us.”

Maricel who had never imagined herself getting into a relationship with a married man, recalls that she was even indignant that he had made a pass at her, saying: “Did he think I was that kind of girl?”

Maricel avoided Bob. He sent her SMS messages apologizing profusely. He admitted he was married, but said that he and his wife were together only for their child. “I’d heard that line before.”, Maricel thought, ignoring the messages.

They met and saw each other again during one dive weekend. “There was definitely a strong chemistry between us… we kissed again. The physical just came naturally after that.”

Maricel, at the age of 21, found herself the other woman — a part she played for more than two years and even when she moved to Hong Kong because of a job offer.

She knows she could have had her pick of other single men. The married man she got involved with wasn’t a much older one she could peddle for money. In fact, at some point, because of the comforts afforded by her job, she would pay for his plane ticket so that he could visit her in the Crown Colony.

“Yes, I was that kind of girl,” admits Maricel.

According to Aileen Santos, a certified relationship coach explains, “Any woman can be the other woman. It can be situational or psychological.”

“You can be in an environment where it is conducive to have another partner — like in Maricel’s case — the weekends in the beach, diving and drinking. Or you can be around other people who all have multiple partners since you usually adapt the mindset of the top five people that you always hang out with.”

It may be no accident then that Maricel’s friend, Jen was also involved with married men.

“I first got involved with a married man when I was 19. Jake and I were all part of a group of friends and then we started hanging out — just the two of us. Once, while on the way to school, he made a turn  to a different street and said we were going to check in [a motel]. I didn’t object,” says Jen.

“How have illicit relationships now being lived out in the open affected the status of the wife?”?

During the interview, Maricel cited Jen as a factor to her decision to get involved with Bob. “I thought about Jen and my other friends involved with married men. Jen has been involved with three married men already and she seemed okay, so I didn’t think it was going to be too bad.”

“They feel excited for each other. They’re feeding off one another and it’s some sort of validation and justification for what they’re doing,” Aileen explains.

The Mistress and the Mister

Jullie Yap Daza, author of the best-selling book “Etiquette for Mistresses”, tries to analyze the role of mistresses then and now.

“I wish to clarify the role or the mistress as she was portrayed in my book, published 1992 — sounds like a long time ago. The mistresses I wrote about did it for love, not gold; they were a more or less permanent fixture in the life of the man; in other words, they were not flings, one-night stands and the like.”

“Since ‘92, romance has been stifled by the fast pace of life, by a more materialistic culture, by pagers, cell phones, the internet. Many romances have been uncovered by text messages left deliberately and maliciously for a selfish agenda — Tiger Woods’ case, for example. If the women are out to snare a man, trap him for money, scandal, revenge or whatever, she doesn’t fall into my category of the mistress who shares her life—really shares–with her married lover.”

At one point, her book is scheduled to be made into a movie starring Gretchen Barretto, who coincidentally (or not) publicly known as a married man’s girlfriend. The movie did not materialize, but Daza did come out with another book on the same topic, entitled, “Mistresses Play. Men Stray. Wives Stay”.

How have illicit relationships now being lived out in the open affected the status of the wife?

Being called a “girlfriend” is something that Santos says contributes to the acceptance of the other woman and somehow legitimizes the relationship.

“With all the political correctness that society now exercises, we hardly ever use the word “mistress”, “kabit” or “number 2” anymore. When we refer to the woman, we say: “She’s involved with a married man”. When we talk about the man, we say “his girlfriend.”

Can’t have adobo everyday

Alastair Mcindoe, a Philippine correspondent for the Singaporean publication, The Strait Times, says in his article entitled: “Filipinos and their number 2s”, mistresses abound in the Philippines where divorce is impossible.

The Philippines, being the only country in the world where divorce is not legal, is a fact used by many to justify extra-marital affairs. News of affairs are often not met with indignation anymore and just a nonchalant expression of, “You can’t have adobo everyday.”

And once again, another stage is set up for intergenerational philandering. Will the Filipino man ever learn? Will the Filipina ever leave? Will the mistress always be allowed to play?

Daza agrees and chuckles a bit when she says, “I don’t divorce would lessen extra-marital affairs. Filipinos are just hot. It’s the Latino thing.”

Miguel, 35, can relate. He has been caught “cheating” on his wife a total of five times. His wife has caught the text messages, intercepted gifts, and dialed frequently numbers on his phone and has been greeted with a, “Hey, baby” by a woman answering the call.

He defends himself saying, “I’ve never gone all the way with any of them, honestly. Just kissing and maybe a little petting.”

He admits his decade old marriage is skating on thin ice and regrets causing his wife so much pain, but “I guess I just forget [lessons from my mistakes] easily. . . and ang sarap diba? The chase, the thrill of having a little secret. When you’re married, there is so little that you keep to yourself, everything is shared.”

His wife, Noreen, is resigned. “I know we can’t last like this forever. I’m always suspicious, always paranoid. Our children are very young, I don’t want them to have separated parents.”

Noreen admits that seeing her father blatantly cheat on her mother for most of their marriage made her promise herself never to endure that kind of behavior. Now that she finds herself in a similar situation, she uses her experience as ‘justification’. “Now, I understand why Mama stayed.”

And once again, another stage is set up for intergenerational philandering. Will the Filipino man ever learn? Will the Filipina ever leave? Will the mistress always be allowed to play?

 

This article was published in the February-March 2013 issue of Illustrado Magazine.

 

 

 

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