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Mrs. A, Mrs. B

BY: Jullie Y. Daza

Exhibit A: Mrs. Pantaleon Alvarez, nee Emelita Apostol, wife of the Speaker of the House. Her husband has publicly owned up to fathering several children with other women, but Mrs. A continues to love him, wish him well (without actually tellling him she will wait for him to come to his senses), and will not sever the conjugal ties: “I am married to him, I will not leave him.” She has the laws of the Church and the Constitution to back her up.

Exhibit B: Mrs. Andres Bautista, nee Patricia Paz Cruz, wife of the Comelec Chairman. She has brought to the attention of President Duterte and the national media her suspicions that his wealth, more than P1 billion in cash and assets, is “unexplained.” The couple has been estranged since 2013. Now she’s demanding a settlement of P620 million “for the children.” The President, himself a semi-married husband, gave up trying to reconcile Andy and Tisha.

What makes Mrs. A and Mrs. B so different? Mr. A is fourth in the line of presidential succession, Mr. B’s position puts him in the top 12 of the most highly paid civil servants. They are powerful men. Speaker A is a member of the Manobo tribe who are not bound by the monogamous tradition of Christians; he has just made news by filing a bill providing for the dissolution of marriages that are no longer working, happy, or harmonious. While declaring her love and loyalty to her husband, Emy is against the bill: “Women are always at a disadvantage.” (Could she have read my book, “Mistresses Play, Men Stray, The Wives Stay” ?) On the other hand, Chairman B is in the thick of preparations for the local elections this October or next May.

The Andy-Tisha feud – her lawyer says it’s more than a marital dispute as the case bears the hallmarks of plunder – is the talk of the town, louder, more intense and widespread than the Bebot-Emy standoff. How come? Not being a social psychologist, I can only offer the most superficial of reasons. One, there’s lots of money involved between the Bautistas. Two, when a wife sticks to her unfaithful spouse, society does not consider her allegiance sensational enough to gossip about, unless fuel is added to the fire. Third, being the “villain” in the Alvarez household, the Speaker was wise enough not to speak up after his wife’s almost teary-eyed confession, and that was that, end of story.