Glimmers of poly in the Philippines
If you wonder what today's Catholic Church would do if it were larger and stronger, look at the Philippines, where it is. Divorce is outlawed; many Filipino couples live outside the law in second partnerships without legal, financial, or property protection. The Church has partly succeeded in stamping out birth control, especially by the one-third of the Filipino population officially living in poverty who don't have the money or connections to get around the anti-contraception regulations. The average woman in this category reportedly has six children and tells pollsters she wanted two. The new president (elected last year) promises to revoke the birth-control restrictions, calling them a major cause of Philippine poverty, backwardness and misery, but despite popular support he faces a furious fight from the Church establishment.
Don't even ask about healthy sex and relationship education.
And yet alternative cultures exist there, sort of.
The Philippine Online Chronicles is a large, quasi-mainstream web magazine funded by an arts-and-education foundation. It calls itself "both a media network and news curator, a platform for alternative viewpoints and a synthesizer of ideas."
Of monogamy, polyamory, swinging and being third party-hardy
By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Since our culture is so hung up on the concept of monogamy, it becomes “natural” for people to condemn individuals who stray from it. It doesn’t matter if you’re LGBTQ or straight or where your geographic location might be. To [all] people, issues that revolve around this concept remain essentially the same, and they react essentially the same way.
Here in the Philippines, the concept of being the third party in a couple is automatically lambasted. Women who find themselves in this position are often branded as traitors, home-wreckers or people who are in the habit of snatching partners. Yes, in short, they are evil.
But what if they’re not? What if, in certain situations, they could also be considered as victims?
In the LBTQ community here in Manila, third party issues also occur in certain spheres but in different contexts compared to the straight circles. Intersecting with the heteronormative world, I have encountered friends and acquaintances — all self-identifying lesbians or bisexual women — who shared stories of pairing up with heterosexual women who already have either a boyfriend or husband. We can only second-guess the reasons why these straight women choose to secretly engage (yes, we were always their secret) with women from our community.... These queer third party people usually end up as the martyrs....
Not that these queer women don’t know what they’re entering.... Sometimes, set-ups like these work for them....
When I first circulated within the Manila lesbian community, the issue of infidelity was the number one topic du jour, and the community is still sensitive about this, actually, up to now. Since the prevailing mode of relationships gear towards homonormativity — meaning being coupled and trying to build a home/family together and stay as partners for x number of years — anyone or anything that mars that homonormative set-up is considered an abomination.
...I guess open relationships would only work if the original couple has enough trust with each other and if they are honest about everything from day one.... If couples are amenable to also introducing all parties involved in their setup, then there is no need to identify a certain individual in an oppressive hierarchical fashion as “the third party” – even if the rest of queer society would look at them that way, I’m sure.
...Some people merely dismiss polyamory as being promiscuous in this country, so I guess we really have a long way to go when it comes to such non-monogamous unions to flourish. I guess most Filipinos don’t want to share that easily....
In the end, regardless of what relationship setup a queer woman chooses — as long as it’s a healthy relationship, that is — her community should be supportive of that.... If we are truly fighting against discrimination against us, then perhaps the first thing we should do is not to discriminate against each other when it comes to our individual relationship setup preferences. Let’s walk the talk, shall we?
Libay Linsangan Cantor is a media practitioner, a film school professor and a Palanca-award winning fictionist. She blogs at leaflens.blogspot.com and leaflenspopmedia.wordpress.com.
Read the whole article (April 25, 2011).
On the same site, a day later:
It's complicated: Third party issues, open relationships, and love
For the past several years, I have been unable to label the kind of relationship I am in. No single word seems appropriate when talking about my relationship status. Even the term “it’s complicated” seem not enough. It’s that complicated.
... A fact of life; I will always be in her life and she will always be in mine, a constant third party that no one can shake or replace.... And all these time, not really talking about what we meant to each other. It was as if there was an unwritten yet understood rule that we were not to talk about it.
Maybe the closest description would be an open relationship.... On one of those rare moments when we actually talked about what we had, she said she was amazed of the fact that after all these years, and after the number of people who has come and gone, we still find ourselves in each other’s company....
Read the whole article (April 26, 2011).
A heartfelt introduction to a blog article:
Polyamory Is It for You?
Because of the basically Catholic upbringing of Pinoys [Filipinos] which, in itself, is already bad enough we were brought up that sex is a bad thing [no, it's not!!], that it can only be used for procreation, that we can only have one and only one life partner, that, once married, we are committed to this person "till death do us part", and that we cannot have more than one relationship, sexual or otherwise, with anyone else anymore because of this very strict upbringing, men most specially hide their "other" relationships from their girlfriends or wives for fear of reprisal from them and from the community they belong in....
And then the rest of the article has been deleted from the server.
Another sad blogger, who found some poly FAQs overseas:
...I am also actually trying to be polyamorous, the problem is that here in the Philippines, it’s hard to find a female who will agree to that.
I’m very happy, though, that some people elsewhere can find people who are just like them. Who can not only understand them, but can also mingle and share the same belief as they do.
Count your blessings, people.
Labels: China/Pacific, Philippines