ADVOCACY MindaNOW: On Lovers & Mistresses

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 May) — By this time, I can tell that we are all either  so bored or  agitated  — and yes,  angry  — with Janet Napoles, PDAF, corruption in high places, that  perhaps we all need somehow some refreshing  break from it all.  So now, how about shifting our attention to the  more mundane but scintillating stories  of  “lovers” and “mistresses” for a change? Here goes.

LEGAL WIFE. Today’s trending “teleserye,,  by all accounts, is ABS- CBN’s “The  Legal Wife” that starts at 9:20 every evening.   I have not really followed and watched it but when I get home not too late at night before a serial ends at 10pm,  I usually catch the end part  simply because my wife Beth or  the household girls  are hopelessly  glued to that TV show.

I can  change  channels only when they’re done (although I always insist on having the last and final say in the house which in this case is the emphatic “yes,dear!” ). So,  I somehow get a little glimpse  of the high drama —   and the thrill –that surround  the forbidden romance between a married man , Adrian ( Jericho Rosales) and Nicole ( Maja Salvador) with an anguished wife Monica (Angel Locsin) discovering how best friend Nicole stole Adrian from her.

The latest episode this week  is about Nicole being preggie and demanding attention– and support  — while Adrian and wife Monica ( still unaware about Nicole’s latest predicament)  are planning to cool it off in faraway Canada to try to work things out or pick up the pieces or whatever. How it will end is still everyone’s guess.

TRUE TO LIFE? The story seems so true to life that many righteously angry wives identify or personify themselves with downtrodden   Monica who is cheated and who, in their eyes no less is  a “martyr” of sorts. However,  at times they also ridicule and scold her for being  “too soft” or”too naive” to deal with the situation.

Other viewers, but not too many,  quietly “feel “for Nicole who  flirted with and  snared philandering husband Adrian but who has feelings (and rights?) too as the “second woman” — especially now that she’s pregnant.

I also suspect that  some men and husbands quietly envy Adrian’s lucky streak  as someone enjoying “both worlds” but grievously sinning, mistaking and  recklessly  doing it “too close  to home” for comfort — Monica and Nicole being the best of friends.

The  prime time story puts in public focus the travails of a family beset and besieged by “another woman.”  It   is so provocative and  watched by many that Facebook netizens express their angsts in the social media by posting real life reactions, to the glee  of  the  telenovela scriptwriters and moviemakers  who astutely  maneuver  the human drama by  whetting the appetite   of the transfixed viewers who are at times agonizing or angry or happy depending on how the story twists and undulates.

When the going gets rough, we at times sit up and re-assure ourselves that this is just a movie but at the back of our minds,  we try and blot out the thought that this can be happening in the real world of ours.

State of denial can be therapeutic in certain cases although we know many  still have succeeded in keeping similar and real-life trysts within the unseen confines of their secret boudoir.

It  bothers the ordinary wife or woman no end when she  watches the show and instinctively curses and spews expletives against Nicole — although , some of them unconsciously wondering about the thrill of being Nicole perhaps with their fantasized and unfulfilled secret dreams of being the “other woman” that they cannot do in real life!

Some women in their righteous indignation must be curious too of how it is to be one like Nicole. I heard one lady friend saying she would prefer Nicole than being Monica coz it’s more exciting and she fantasized about this, see? ( I would not be surprised if this reaps a whirlwind of protests.)

I also heard husbands who complained that they had no  idea whatsoever of what was going on in the movie but somehow bearing the brunt of their wives “warnings” and importuning upon coming home from work.

Indeed, the public has internalized it  and has experienced what experts  call as the “temporary suspension of disbelief” enabling the viewers  to live the characters that they see on the screen.

This reminds me of a coffeetable book authored by my friend, Julie Yap Daza, a pert Manila journalist and “coquet“( ooops, she may resent this adjective coz this is too  mild to describe her. Hahaha! ). The  title  of her book is  “Etiquette for Mistresses” which she autographed, and gave me a copy a few  years back.  It is  a juicy narration  of actual, mostly secret,  love affairs of the “rich and the famous” friends of hers in Manila that she stumbled into  as a journalist. (Another book written by Daza — “Mistresses Play, Men Stray, The Wives Stay” – was published in 2012).

A few days ago, I rummaged through my shelves hoping to refresh my memory by resuming  the guessing game of “who’s who with whom”  in Ms. Julie’s book but I couldn’t  find it again. Although they were not named, one could identify the persons referred to, mostly public officials.

As we know, the more famous and high placed they are, the more salacious the whispered stories become.  But that does not mean only the rich and the famous are into this situation.  I know of jeepney drivers or lowly laborers who also indulge similarly.  The forbidden seems to attract and fascinate. It whets the appetite and the imagination. Yes, to love and feel loved is a universal indulgence. It comes in different hues — from  the sublime, the platonic, the moral  and the purely physical.  It knows  no bounds. Or so it seems.

But a word of caution first  before I get into trouble with the wife (Beth, in flesh and blood  not fictional Monica, mind you)  for indulging in this sensitive  topic, lest I falsely project my seeming expertise in this line ( with tongue- in- cheek?  Hahaha!). I can however try to feign real knowledge  from my  work as a lawyer, a counsellor,  a public official, a journalist. But that won’t fly. Maybe,  as a person who loves to love and loves to be loved by everyone can be a good excuse for such competence. Of course, everyone wants to love and be loved in whatever way. Who doesn’t? C’mon let’s all admit it.

HUSBAND STUCK. A few days ago, in one of my naughty moments, I posted this brief  piece on my FACEBOOK wall that I  got from a friend’s text message.  It goes like this: “A man from Kuala Lumpur tells his wife that he has a business appointment in Beijing for the weekend. He informs her that he will fly on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Now…..he’s been stuck for two months in his girlfriend’s house and doesn’t have the faintest idea how to go home. (ANY SUGGESTIONS?) hahaha!” 

Oh boy!  The reactions from my FB friends came in torrents!  All sorts: “Good for you bastard!” or ” “Lucky wife now enjoying his insurance;” ” Stuck with the b*tch!” “Get lost husband. I’m the legal wife so I get the pensions, insurance…”

Another bright idea from a retired police officer: “Get someone to call  wife and ask for ransom money for your release by making up the story that you were kidnapped on your way to the airport.”

One quick reply to the kidnap for ransom ploy:  “What if the wife offers to give more money to the kidnappers so they keep the husband forever instead?”

And a lot more. Interesting. Fascinating! (NOTE: More suggestions still welcome if you wish. )

CROSSING THE LINE.  I notice there is now more openness among many in talking about and dealing with relationships beyond the “normal bounds.” Where before they were talked about usually in hushed and whispered tones, there is more  “public discourse” (not acceptance, I’m sure) of this reality.

I have a theory. A lot of these recent developments have something to do with the onset of the cell phones, the internet and other revolutionary methods of communications. Today, most persons are virtually “interconnected. Intimate human feelings and wants, including  physical appearances
 (those posted profile photos for example) are no longer confined in the usual circles but are instantly  shared and expressed in cyberspace or in privacy with others. Usual boundaries are breached. Even time and space are no longer delimiting — moderated only by one’s personal moral standards or personal preferences or tastes or inclinations.

Naturally, the possibilities and temptations of going beyond normal moral bounds  are there for all to deal with. Connecting with someone, whether in person or in cyberspace, whether licit or illicit, legal or otherwise, are now within everyone’s fingertips. It can simply mean that “crossing the line” is  no longer that difficult. I need not specify the obvious — lest I also unnecessarily disclose how my own free spirit flies. (oooops!)

LIFE’S ANTIDOTE. With the “ooohhs & aaaahhs” and the raves of “The Legal Wife,” expect other enterprising moviemakers to  push the button further with other similar plots and storylines. It’s good for the cash register!

It may render passe and moot the wholesomeness of daytime soap “Pls Be Careful With My Heart” as too good to be true and shunted  aside by types similar to “The Legal Wife,” although the latter is heavily dramatized,  more down-to-earth and —  who knows — a more accurate and palatable  portrayal of today’s romantic foibles behind closed doors  that are coming more and more out of the closet.

Whatever the outcomes, more entertaining movies like these can be good numbing antidotes  to the otherwise dreary and hard part of living that we all must face day to day.

So —   go, go, go Adrian, Nicole and Monica! You make our day  –Napoles etal,  notwithstanding!

And one final note: is there anyone planning to do “The Legal Husband”?.

The shoe on the other foot may just be as entertaining!  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Jesus “Jess” G. Dureza was Presidential Assistant for Mindanao under former Presidents Ramos and Arroyo. He served in other capacities under the Arroyo administration, including the chairmanship of the peace panel in the negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW. You may email him at