Watching the news last night, I was struck by the headline: "Kris Aquino and James Yap's marriage officially annulled." Not because I am a starstruck follower of local show business - anyone who knows me would balk at the thought of my being one - but because it follows the news-making saga (still ongoing) of Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo, and his death which revealed that he and his estranged wife have filed for annulment, and their marriage was also the result of the annulment of Arroyo's first marriage.
Of course, Kris was never acquainted with the word privacy - who else has the panache to discuss the dubious delights of contracting an STD on national television but the (self-dubbed?) "Queen Of All Media" - so the public is well aware of the annulment proceedings with her, I suppose we can call him ex-husband now, James. As for the title appropriated to her, she's certainly made it a point to bombard every public avenue possible to give us every scintillating detail of her life.
Even when no one was asking about them.
In both cases, as with many, many, many other marriages in our country, the only way to end a marriage while both parties are living is to file for an annulment.
Despite whatever legal somersaults lawyers put us through to spell out the "many" differences between a divorce and an annulment, they amount to the same thing: the dissolution of a marriage. In other words, di na kasal. It is only how they are viewed in legal terms - and more importantly, how they are viewed by both the predominant religion and society, that spells the difference.
And what a difference it makes in a Catholic country.
Legally, an annulment essentially says "the marriage never existed". This is exactly the part of law I detest and despise: with just a few verbal hoops, suddenly, one did not "put asunder" a marriage, because there - supposedly - was no marriage that took place.
Didn't these brides order a custom made wedding gown?
Didn't they have a wedding reception?
Didn't they give marriage vows in front of God, priest and every one in the barangay?
Didn't they have two beautiful kids? (One in the case of Kris and James.)
Didn't they remind you of their anniversary with a "thanksgiving party"?
Let's cut the crap, the endless rationalizations, all the BS.
Annulment gives couples a way out that is Catholic-approved, without ever crossing the divide, over to the dreaded D word.
A way to say to one and all, "Excuse me, our marriage was not valid from the beginning! I am still clean and holy in the eyes of God and the church!", maintaining a ridiculously hypocritical moral high ground despite the plain fact that a marriage was dissolved.
Don't bother selling me more BS. I've heard those for more years than I care to count.
It's no different from so many other stands people in this country take that perpetuate the myth of a pious, religious people, when the reality is, they are merely taking the method that allows them to justify doing exactly what Catholicism specifically prohibits.
If you think this is biased conjecture on my part, go to any online site that discusses divorce in the Philippine context, and you will see a common answer emerge from those who oppose it vehemently: "I am against it because we are a Catholic country".
I seriously doubt that the representatives who intend to file the divorce bill in Congress will succeed: People generally want to have their cake and eat it too.
That's what annulment does for this Catholic country: it ends the marriage, with minimal to no social stigma, leaving the parties free to remarry until the next annulment, and best of all, earning brownie Catholic points for "staying true" to church doctrine.
Besides, I've never heard of a church that gave back refunds for annulled marriages.