IN Third World macho Philippines, we rarely hear about concubinage as that case filed against philandering husbands or wives. Instead we hear of relationships unraveling, and new relationships beginning, where we are allowed to forget who is married and who’s “living in sin,” where the current norms have flexed the rules to the point that one is shocked or scandalized anymore.
Ah, but count on showbiz to teach us a thing or two about the law, and how it does arm us—if we are so inclined—with what we need to get some justice.
Romance is dead, ain’t it.
Derek dashing debonaire
The thing with Derek Ramsay is that we had no idea he was married and had a kid. This, while he has made a career out of selling himself as hunky athletic bachelor who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s the gentleman, that one who respects women, does not kiss and tell, nor badmouth any of his ex-es.
That career is one that’s on television and in film, as fantaserye hero in the former, and sexy leading man in the latter, and as host of sports TV and Amazing Race Philippines. This is a public persona that’s also bound to product endorsement deals, selling as he does tuna and donuts, a beauty clinic and clothes, a bank and a beer, among others. All these endorsements and TV shows are in turn bound to that idea of Ramsay as eligible bachelor, that one who might have a girlfriend but no wedding ring, which can only keep many-a-girl’s (and gay’s) heart hopeful.
And so it is that this image unravels in one fell swoop, when both wife and son burst into public consciousness like a storm that Ramsay did not see coming. The timing would be perfect, of course—he is without a girlfriend these days, or at least the public does not know of anyone—and it could make for the publicity he needs, given the lack of an audience over on TV5.
But this might be one of the few times that bad publicity is just exactly that and nothing else.
The wife and mother scorned
It is difficult to believe that Mary Christine Jolly’s charges of neglect and abandonment, ergo, emotional and psychological abuse, don’t hold any water.
Information on the charge that Ramsay violated Republic Act (RA) 9262 or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004,” is unclear. What does make sense is everything that Jolly said in relation to her grievances, where she talks about herself and her son having been neglected for eight years from 2002 to 2010, until Ramsay proved via DNA test that he was indeed the young boy’s father. It was only then that Jolly and Ramsay agreed to terms of support, which Jolly says Ramsay has also since failed to fulfill.
Jolly’s complaint includes everything and the kitchen sink, of course, with marital rape and spousal abuse thrown into the mix. Ramsay has denied all of it, saying that the only things true about Jolly’s complaint is that one, he is actually still married to her, and two, that he does have a son. A son he had kept from the public because he wanted to protect the eight year old boy he met in 2010.
There was a meeting that was supposed to be about trying to meet halfway and agreeing to a settlement, but not much has been above ground with regards what really happened in that meeting. Suffice it to say that there was talk of a very angry son, who wrote to the judge about how bad a father Ramsay is.
And then things took a turn for the worse. Or better, depending on how one looks at it.
What is concubinage?
In this country what we know of is infidelity, the one that’s merely pangangaliwa, a husband who gets himself a mistress, or a wife who gets herself a boytoy. This is practically next to normal.
And then we know of how marriages that fall apart for this reason (among others) become about the annulment process—what with no divorce in this country—where the wife and husband are forced to point a finger at the psychological incapacity of at least one party, and spend a whole lot of cash to get the courts to declare that this marriage never happened to begin with. There’s no alimony, no damages, just being freed from that piece of paper that says you’re married.
The annulment process – as with many things that are about justice in this country – is really just for the wealthier among us.
But then here is Jolly, teaching us that an annulment might not be what we should be looking at in the case of a philandering spouse. Enter concubinage.
What she has in her hands is proof that Ramsay, her husband, had cohabited with one of his ex-girlfriends, where Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code provides that “Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.”
The same law provides that “The concubine shall suffer the penalty of destierro” if proven that she was aware that the man she was cohabiting with was actually married at the time of cohabitation.
With such public knowledge of that relationship between Ramsay and his ex-girlfriend, knowledge borne of magazine interviews and personal photographs made public, it’s like their public displays of affection have come back to haunt them. It’s also about the age of oversharing and the premium that current showbiz culture puts on flaunting one’s personal life and relationships.
Thanks to all that, it is now difficult to imagine that Jolly’s case of concubinage against Ramsay (and his ex-girlfriend) does not hold water.
Thanks to her, it is also now clear which cases of infidelity in this country are exactly about concubinage. Many Pinays, I imagine, are now talking to their lawyers.