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“[Marriage] is a piece of paper for me.”
Filipino actor Diego Loyzaga recently ignited controversy across the internet when he said in an episode of Toni Talks that he did not believe in marriage.
“Ang sa akin lang kasi, if ever we fight in the future and get to the point na ‘ayoko na sa ’yo’, it’s not a big matter of having to go somewhere and get annulled, get divorced,” Loyzaga said.
(For me, if we ever fight in the future and get to the point of “I don’t like you anymore,” it’s not a big matter of having to go somewhere and get annulled, get divorced.)
Social media users reacted to the episode, sharing different perspectives and beliefs both influenced by their principles.
Some comments under Facebook posts related to the episode expressed similar views with Loyzaga.
Meanwhile, some still strongly believe in the sanctity of marriage.
The decline of marriage and the rise of cohabitation
How have people’s views on marriage changed over the years?
Yale News said that, despite being the most educated generation of young adults ever, seven out of ten millennials believe they face harsher economic challenges than previous generations. Despite the majority wanting to confer to marriage traditions, economic barriers are what hinders them to do so.
Data from the Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey show that the proportion of Filipino women aged 15 to 49 who are legally married dropped from 54% in 1993 to 42% in 2017, while the corresponding proportions of couples who are living together more than tripled, from 5% to 18%.
The increase in the percentage of Filipino women who are cohabiting is more prominent in the younger age groups, particularly those in their 20s.
Moreover, the surge of cohabitation is higher among Filipino women with low levels of education according to a study by the Asia Research Institute, which is accompanied by the prominence of economic constraints in the Philippines; further verifying the pattern observed in other developing countries that cohabitation is a “poor man’s marriage.”
Other reasons cited by netizens for choosing to cohabitate over formal marriage include merely conforming to societal norms, “too young” to formally marry, unplanned pregnancy, no consent from parents, and trial marriage.
The fluctuating pattern of union in the Philippines is influenced by changes in attitude towards marriage and cohabitation.
According to data by the International Social Survey Program, the portion who agreed to have a “bad marriage than no marriage at all” declined from 32% in 1994 to 27% in 2002.
This indicates that although most Filipinos still value marriage as an avenue to a lifelong commitment, a significant portion of the younger generation would rather not marry than to have a bad marriage. This view is contrary to longstanding belief that couples are expected to stay together despite marital problems and for the sake of their children.
Conferring to tradition and societal norms
At the same time, many Filipinos online still view marriage as a declaration of love that must be celebrated, and not look at it as just merely a “piece of paper.” For those who are religious, marriage is a divine commitment.
Undoubtedly, many couples still find solace in formal marriage. On the contrary, many see marriage as a privilege. Some, a pressure from family, and a reminder of trauma. For people like Diego Loyzaga, considering the benefit of possible separation in the long run is a reasonable choice, especially with the current marriage and separation laws.
A Senate panel in September 2023 approved a consolidated divorce bill that proposes granting absolute divorce based on specific grounds, including five years of separation and commission of the crime of rape before or after the marriage.
“The Philippines will soon join the rest of the world in the legalization of absolute divorce after the House committee on population and family relations approved in principle several bills on divorce and dissolution of marriage,” divorce advocate Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman said.
The Philippines is the only state outside of the Vatican that outlaws divorce, with the Catholic Church opposing the practice and saying it is against the church’s teachings.
Do you still believe in marriage? Or is choosing to cohabitate a more practical decision? – Coleen Hufanda/Rappler.com
Coleen Hufanda’s keyboard never rests as she is not only a Digital Communications volunteer at Rappler, she is also a sophomore Communication student from the University of Santo Tomas, and a content producer for her college radio. She will never stop writing and talking anytime soon because she’s eyeing a career in Media and Broadcasting.