pop goes the world: crime and astonishment

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  10 November 2011, Thursday

Crime and Astonishment

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

It is the seventh commandment in the Judaeo-Christian Decalogue. Adultery is also forbidden in Islam and some other religions, and is punishable by law in many countries, with the aim of preserving the family.

Yet it seems that all over the world, it is something that people of both sexes find difficult to obey. Inthe Philippines, the male predilection in particular towards adultery, powered by cultural concepts such as “machismo”, in addition to other factors, is seen in the familiar narratives of broken homes, may pangalawang pamilya, and anak sa labas.

The issue is revisited in the ongoing Revilla family crime saga. While senator Ramon Revilla Sr. did not conceal that he had multiple families, never has it come into clearer focus than now, with the sorry murder of his son Ramgen perhaps by his own sister, and the shocking rumors of fratricide for gain – sibling rivalry taken to its darkest depths.

Ramgen and Ramon Revilla. From Genelyn Magsaysay’s Facebook page.

Senator Bong Revilla’s remarks in the media point to the belief that Ramona Bautista’s suspiciously-timed flight to Turkey indicates guilt; or, at the very least, complicity in the crime.

The behavior of his “sister from another mother” sets off warning bells. Ramona’s ten-minute video explanation led to more questions than answers. Her affect seemed off; she seemed like she was acting out a script rather than being truly distraught over the gruesome murder of her brother that she admitted she witnessed.

Genelyn Magsaysay, Ramon Revilla Sr., and Ramona Bautista. From Genelyn’s public Facebook page.

According to reports and her own testimony, she watched her brother die, and listened to his stricken girlfriend beg her to call an ambulance; after that she walked calmly out the gate with her other brother RJ, now detained in jail for being a “mastermind” of the murder. In a country that values family above all else, fratricide is particularly abhorrent. In the Judeao-Christian mythos, Cain’s murder of Abel is mentioned as being one of the darkest sins. Thus the public’s fascination with the case.

Meanwhile, Ramgen, Ramona, and RJ’s mother, Genelyn Magsaysay, does not hesitate to use social media to further her own agenda. Her Facebook Page still remains public, as of this writing. Her status updates, with their quotations from scripture, are full of pain – pain for being “the other woman”, for not having the full financial benefits that would have been afforded the legal wife, for having to raise nine children under the shadow of the illegitimacy of their and her status, notwithstanding her favored position in the senior Revilla’s harem.

Genelyn and Ramon Revilla. From her FB page.

 It’s a tangled mess they weave, and it’s no surprise that we are riveted. It’s a better plot than anything the Revillas have done for the movies. For this to be visited upon a family prominent in two fields – entertainment and politics – it proves that for all their wealth and prominence, they are not immune to tragedy, and this brings them closer to the ordinary people who watch their films and voted them into power on the strength of their good looks and popularity.

The irony is that all this occurred in “the only Catholic country in Asia”. Along with the antics of another high-profile adulterer, former president Joseph Estrada, the senior Revilla’s siring of 75 children by 16 women doesn’t raise any eyebrows. In Philippine culture, hardly any stigma is attached to such behavior. The astonishment comes from the enormous number of children Revilla had. (Is it a coincidence that both of them are action stars turned politicians?)

Adultery, or infidelity in the marital context, is so prevalent in the Philippines that the majority of broken homes result from this reason, according to Fr. Ted Gonzales, SJ. In his paper “The Filipino Context of Infidelity and Resilience” (2001), he says:

“A common concern emerging from family ministry in the Philippine setting is of a marriage affected by infidelity. Infidelity is the breaking of marital vows. In Philippine culture, infidelities or extramarital relationships range from casual relationships to the keeping of a querida or paramour (Medina 1991).”

Fr. Ted stresses that “The husband’s infidelity is a major concern in Filipino marriages (PCP II, 1992). Carandang (1987) notes that wives rank infidelity as the number one family stressor. Lacar (1993) reports that male infidelity is the most frequent reason for marital separation. Vancio (1980, 1977) cites male infidelity as a major issue for marital break-ups in Metro Manila. In the McCann Metro Manila Male Study (1995), half of the 485 male respondents reported having had extramarital affairs. Relucio (1995) in her in-depth interview with seven separated women, notes that “infidelity was found to be a common problem.” Dayan, et. al. (1995) in their study of 60 petitioners for nullity of marriage, report that adultery was one of the major reasons cited.”

Adultery that leads to separation and a broken home is most difficult for the wife, who generally is the one who keeps some semblance of family together, caring for the children herself, often without support from the husband. Many women who have separated or been abandoned contend with financial problems. The vast majority cannot sue for spousal support because most Filipinos have no recourse to Philippine law because it is expensive.

The senior Revilla at least provided handsomely for his families, if we go by reports that he gave Genelyn a handsome allowance, and their nine children an additional P1 million a month of their own. The money was managed by the eldest, Ramgen, and it seems likely that it was for control of this money and related factors that he was killed.

Here’s something to think about: if the senior Revilla had not committed adultery, he would not have had the children by Genelyn, and this particular tragedy would not have happened.

* * * * *

From the National Book Development Board: The deadline for registration and payment to attend “The Great Philippine Book Café”, the 2nd Manila International Literary Festival, is today; check out their website for details. Pulitzer Prize winning authors Edward P. Jones and Junot Diaz will be on panel forums and signing books at the Ayala Museum next week. Other speakers are Palanca-prize winning writers Dr. Jose Y. Dalisay Jr., Dr. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Prof. Charlson Ong, Ichi Batacan, Yvette Tan, and Prof. Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, among many.

From writers April Yap and Camille de la Rosa: There are still open slots for Gaze’s November 12“Erotic Writing: Blanket Day” workshop led by Nerisa del Carmen Guevara. It’s from 10am to 4pm atGayuma ni Maria, 123 V. Luna Extension (Maginhawa Street), Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. The P2,500 fee includes meals and drinks. Bring a blanket and an object belonging to your beloved. For more details contact Gaze at (0926)725-5280 or ilovegaze@gmail.com.

From novelist and classical guitarist Ichi Batacan: The University of the Philippines Guitar Orchestra will hold its first live recording concert on November 19, 7pm, at the GT-Toyota – Asian Cultural Center, UP Diliman. The performance will feature arrangements by Prof. Lester Demetillo of works by Telemann, Mozart, Villalobos, and Abelardo. Regular tickets at P300, P240 for seniors, P150 for students. Call Neil at (0927)680-8255.  ***

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1 Comment on pop goes the world: crime and astonishment

  1. Bruno Taut
    17 November 2011 at 5:05 am (3163 days ago)

    I rather think that the axiom of monogamy should be critically discussed.



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