Cebu

Cebu pro-divorce groups urge people in toxic relationships to ‘let go’

John Sitchon

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Cebu pro-divorce groups urge people in toxic relationships to ‘let go’

FREEDOM DAY. To celebrate the 126th Philippine Independence Day, members and supporters of the Divorce Pilipinas Coalition - Cebu Chapter, call for the enactment of the absolute divorce bill as they gather in Cordova, Cebu, on June 12, 2024.

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Wilmita Antilegando, Divorce Pilipinas Coalition Cebu chapter head, says some relationships are simply beyond repair

CEBU, Philippines – Pro-divorce groups in Cebu on Friday, June 12, urged people in toxic relationships to embrace “letting go,” amid calls to fix broken marriages and relationships instead of opting for the legalization of divorce in the country.

Wilmita Antilegando, Divorce Pilipinas Coalition (DPC) the Cebu chapter head, told Rappler that she has tried working out her relationship with her former husband multiple times before finally deciding to “let go.”

The 41-year-old got married when she was around 21. At the time, she was pregnant with their first child and was pressured by family members to get married. She soon learned that her partner had vices like gambling.

“After 15 years [separated], we got back together before the pandemic because he got sick and had no one else…. From 2019 to 2020, about five months, but it’s not working out, it was time to let go,” the divorce advocate said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

According to Antilegando, many victims of failed relationships, especially women, find themselves taking on the burden of providing for the family’s needs due to the neglect of their partners. 

She added that spouses take on an additional emotional burden by forcing themselves to be with their ex-partners. 

“Letting go is the healthiest thing to do if it’s toxic and beyond repair,” Antilegando said.

In May, the House of Representatives approved House Bill 9349, or the divorce bill, which has been transmitted to the Senate.

Members of the Catholic Church have campaigned against the bill, arguing that it could harm the sanctity of marriage and would place children through emotional, psychological, and social challenges. Advocates of the bill, however, have pointed out that there are already many broken homes in the country despite the absence of a divorce bill

Glenn Gimarino, a 61-year-old retired overseas Filipino worker (OFW), shared his toxic relationship with his former partner.

“For one, a toxic relationship’s indication is when there is no more communication…. If ever both are together at home, partners hurt each other either verbally or physically…. These are some of the things I went through,” Gimarino said.

He recalled that he tried to stay in the relationship for the sake of his children but was unable to hold on to it longer due to their differences and some issues involving trust and “fidelity.”

“It’s easy to forgive but I cannot forget what happened,” Gimarino said.

Gimarino, an incoming third-year law student, hopes to finish his studies and become a lawyer who can take family cases for fellow victims of failed relationships and individuals seeking annulment, and, iif a law is enacted, divorce.

Walk in our shoes

Vanessa Santos, 42, only spent up to two months living with her former husband. After allegedly witnessing her former partner sexually harass her younger sister and posting an erotic image of a woman in their bathroom, Santos told herself that enough was enough.

“I was just 19 years old when I got married so when I learned about that, my feelings burst and I made my husband leave,” she said.

After their separation, Santos told Rappler that she had become a mother of two and the only thing connecting her and her former partner was their marriage certificate. When asked if she would like to get an annulment, she cited the case of actress Jodi Sta. Maria who spent 13 years on her annulment case.

“Nakita ko ;yung post about kay Jodi Sta. Maria na 13 years. Parang, sabi ko, so kung 13 years ko gagawin ‘yon, gagastos ako ng 13 years. Nakapagpa-graduate na ako ng anak ko noon,” Santos said.

(I saw the post about Jodi Sta. Maria [that she waited] 13 years. It’s like, I told myself, so if I do that for 13 years, I’ll be spending for 13 years. My child would have graduated by then.)

“Hindi ko kaya na ilagay ko pa ang sarili ko doon sa [annulment]. Nasaktan ka na at kukuha ka naman ng annulment na isasaksak sa puso mo para durugin ka ng paulit-ulit kasi wala namang annulment na nagtatawanan kayo,” Santos said.

(I can no longer put myself through [annulment]. You’ve already been hurt and then, you decide to get an annulment that you’re going to stab your heart and get crushed repeatedly because there isn’t an annulment where everyone’s just laughing it off.)

Santos urged legislators to walk a mile in her shoes to understand the difficulty she has gone through and to allow the divorce bill to be enacted in the country to save mothers, spouses, and victims of failed relationships like her. – Rappler.com

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