“Aanhin ko pa ang kasal kung magkaka divorce naman pala?”
As I asked my grandfather his thoughts on divorce, he replied with a somewhat sarcastic tone. You see now, my grandfather is no doubt a solid believer in the Bible’s teachings. However, he also happens to be separated from his previous wife.
Growing up, I was constantly fed with religious propaganda. I believed that divorce was such a horrible thing back then, mainly when children were involved. Whenever I see individuals wanting to get divorced, cultural clichés like the unfaithful husband who wanted to divorce his wife so that he could be with his “evil” mistress would come into my mind. In my perspective, divorce could be a “way out” for unfaithful couples. Before I knew it, I had fallen for the trap of stereotyping and one-dimensional thinking.
To this day, divorce is highly stigmatized and frowned upon by the religious parts of the community and by government officials. By now, it’s not a surprise to know that the Philippines, along with the Vatican, continues to take pride in being one of only two countries on Earth that bans divorce, excluding Muslims. Yet, hopefully, with the divorce bill in the process, this is soon to change.
READ: Philippines: House of Representatives Bill on Divorce Approved in Committee, Referred to House Plenary for Debate |by Library of Congress
We are Asia’s only Catholic country. Since Catholicism is our primary religion, it has become a big part of Filipino culture and history. This explains why many may see divorce as immoral, saying it ends the sacred matrimony of two people. However, let’s take a look at this from a different perspective:
According to the church, love is the foundation and basis of marriage. When the priest asks if you would accept the person next to you as your partner, you say yes, out of love. But what if that same love is no longer present in the relationship? Are you still obligated to stay — even if your marriage becomes a hindrance to your happiness rather than a source of it?
I’d object to this matter. I’d prefer to believe that one should have the right to leave the marriage, especially when there is no more room for growth between the couple. It’s only natural for some couples to grow apart. Wanting to end unhappy relationships is valid. Not permitting divorce and forcing people to struggle in miserable marriages is arguably a human rights violation.
READ: No. 4, 11, 13, & 20 of the human rights document | HURIGHTS OSAKA
This is why I believe that human and civil rights should be separated from religious beliefs.
Divorce legalization in the Philippines does not encourage married couples to divorce; instead, it just provides an option that annulment lacks — a simpler solution for abused, unhappy, or lost people without having to lie, accuse, or prove that one of them is mentally incapable.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t intend to discount the Catholic Church or its teachings. People desire a community where they can freely preach their beliefs — we need hope and faith. Humans must learn to forgive, to be humble, to be patient, and to love. However, we must also learn to coexist and respect one another and remind ourselves that everyone has their own beliefs and values. Not everyone will necessarily believe or agree with what you think (and that is completely okay).
According to the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines (Article II, Section 6), “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In other words, the Church should not rule over the state, and the state cannot rule over the church. The state must make legislation or enact laws that are not prejudiced or influenced by their personal beliefs, significantly since their choices affect the lives of millions of Filipinos.
I understand how this is a sensitive topic for some. It would be a lie to claim that I know what every unhappy couple is going through or what every child with separated parents is dealing with because, frankly, I don’t.
But through my friends and peers who have separated parents, I learned one thing: Divorce can be painful and heartbreaking, but it can also be liberating. Cutting ties with someone you once loved is difficult, but remaining in an unhappy relationship just for the sake of being together is even more agonizing.
It’s not my place to tell a married couple whether or not divorce would be the best option for them, even if it’s evident that it is, in some cases. But it can be for others, and I believe each family should have the option to make that decision independently.
A reminder that those who choose divorce are neither weak nor immoral. Instead, it proves how strong and brave they are for choosing themselves by letting go of relations that no longer make them happy or help them grow as people, even if it means letting go of someone they used to love.
Hello! I am Samaya Ty of STEM-1B, an Opinions writer of UST Angelicum’s Tigercubs. I think of myself as a friendly, sweet, and (most of the time) impulsive person. My hobbies include reading books, particularly fiction. I find joy in filling my mind with words and scenarios that can make my heart race and my imagination go wild. Apart from reading, I also enjoy watching movies and tv shows, especially anime!
As a writer, I consider myself to be a work in progress. I know I still have a lot to learn about writing. But hopefully, with the guidance of my seniors and fellow writers, I may hone my skills and be able to fully express myself and what I stand for without difficulties. Tigercubs, for me, is a safe place for students who wish to use their skills to amplify the voices of our generation. Being a part of this club will undoubtedly be one of the most unforgettable experiences of my time as a Thomasian-Angelican.