The Family Code: Insights into Filipino Culture

Family US Dept of Defense

[Photo source: US Department of Defense]

I’m getting a fairly clear picture of how the Philippines works, socially, from the discussions here.

These insights started with my reading of the Geert Hofstede description of the Philippines as a power-based, hierarchical society and were brought into clear focus a couple of blogs ago about the matter of honor at the Philippine Military Academy.

Now I’d like to turn to the family and the primary law defining and supporting the family, the Family Code of the Philippines .

Let me begin this article with a few preamble statements:

  1. The Family Code of the Philippines is a good and necessary document in most aspects. However, it is becoming outdated and, in some respects, imposes the State’s judgment over that of the family. That is what this blog is about.
  2. If there is a Family Code in the U.S., I never read it, nor have most Americans I would guess. Taking care of the family is largely one’s own business, not the State’s, unless damage is done. The attorneys who handled my assorted divorces probably read it.
  3. A law is only a law if it is enforceable and that is the biggest barrier in the Philippines to becoming a law-based society. Laws are not read, not understood, and few have access to the enforcement mechanisms:
    • Laws are written in incredible detail.
    • Laws like the Building Code are written by the Congress, not an agency, so changing the specifications for buildings (outlawing asbestos, for instance) takes a . . . well . . . takes an act of Congress. Therefore, laws easily become outdated and confusing.
    • There seems to be little enforcement. This results in a lot of law-breaking or law-avoidance. For example, a law was recently passed to improve treatment of domestic help (establishing the minimum wage and so forth), but there is no enforcement mechanism. It falls to employees to raise a complaint and they either do not know the law, don’t know how to complain, don’t wish to upset their (authoritarian) boss, or don’t have the required complaining fees.

But all that is not the subject of this blog. The subject of this blog is the way Government inserts itself into family affairs rather than giving individuals the right to determine how the family engages, within very broad parameters of fair play. That is, it seems to me that Family Law in the Philippines reflects the top down authoritarian way of Philippine social practices rather than the citizen-up freedom/accountability model of practices.

As I was composing this, Rappler published an article that took the Family Code (and Revised Penal Code) to task for failing to give women equal rights to men. I nodded a certain understanding to their complaint.

The Family Code was crafted in 1988 . . . back in the stone ages of societal awareness. When laws become outdated because social awareness grows, then the laws can end up HINDERING happiness, health and productivity . . . and fairness. So some rethinking is definitely in order.

Let me cite a few examples to help explain what I mean.

A Long Short Cut to Marriage

One of the features I LIKE about the Family Code is that no marriage license is required if two people have lived together for at least five years. Getting married is simplified:

  • Chapter 2. Marriages Exempted from License Requirement. Art. 34. No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties are found no legal impediment to the marriage.

So those who drafted the Family Code are evidently aware that a LOT of people live together outside of marriage. Why do Filipinos cohabit outside marriage? They don’t have the documents or money to get married. But they can get officially married after five years if they are aware of the law.

My point in raising this matter is to state there is a certain pragmatism and understanding of Philippine ways in the crafting of the laws. The attorneys who wrote the Family Code were aware of poverty and its implications.

A Marriage is a Contract without End

The lack of a divorce law in the Philippines means that many spouses are locked into marriages with abusive mates, or philandering sex addicts, or spouses who won’t obey the Family Code and support the family. If Dad is a deadbeat, the wife cannot ditch him and provide for her children by finding a new father for her kids. The Family Code, by locking the wife into bondage, actually ends up penalizing the family in that case.

The State, by endorsing contracts with no termination provision, ends up creating this awkward default position:

  • The wife can’t get a divorce from a negligent or abusive mate.
  • The State does nothing about the deadbeat Dad or abusive husband.
  • Bad scene, man, bad scene.

The Impossible Out

  • Chapter 3. Void and Voidable Marriages. Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during subsistence of a previous marriage shall be null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two years shall be sufficient.
  • Art. 45. A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:
    • (1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen years of age or over but below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife;
    • (2) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
    • (3) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
    • (4) That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;
    • (5) That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or
    • (6) That either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable.

So there are three ways out of a marriage: discover that your husband was married before, is dead, or was crazy or criminal when you got married. And good luck paying for the attorneys and psychiatric tests and shrinks and court fees to get that done.

Oh . . . a fourth way out. Be rich and have influence with the courts. Be a Kris Aquino, with attorneys doing the dirty work and judges quite happy with the fee arrangements.

This is a perfect example of the Power Distance measure cited by Geert Hofstede in its description of the Philippines.

The State does not allow adults to be adults and agree that a bad marriage is not working, and end it. Simply. Forthrightly. The State imposes it’s will and emotional burdens upon the family. It does this, of course, as an agent of the Catholic morality, the Church being a powerful force during any election. Fairness and kindness do not motivate Filipino legislators. Staying in power does, and woe to any legislator who crosses the Catholic Church.

“Secular” is defined by pragmatics of getting re-elected, not by logic or compassion.

The State Imposes It’s Will on Husbands and Wives

This section is little bizarre to me. But remember, I am born of the model that family members can take accountability for their own decisions.

  • TITLE III, RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE, Art. 73. Either spouse may exercise any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity without the consent of the other. The latter may object only on valid, serious, and moral grounds.

The State gives each spouse the right to take independent decisions on where to work. On one hand, a spouse can decide to be a cop (dangerous) or a bar worker (carousing with the drunken guests), or work cheap, and the mate can’t object unless his objection is “serious”.

What in the world is “serious”, anyway? If I don’t like it, it is serious.

I suppose the intent of the law is to promote gender equality in employment and a “right to work”. But to the freedom-based observer, this is treating the parents like children. It presumes they can’t simply work this out between them. Which I’d guess is what most spouses do, and would do, whether this article existed or not. This seems to me to be a law that is simply not needed.

The Family Home

  • Title 5. The Family. Chapter 2. The Family Home. Art. 157.  The actual value of the family home shall not exceed, at the time of its constitution, the amount of three hundred thousand pesos in urban areas, and two hundred thousand pesos in urban areas, or such amounts as may hereafter be fixed by law.

Now I have no idea if the amounts have been updated by subsequent law, but the inclusion of a limit to the amount an individual is able to invest in his or her home seems blatantly dysfunctional to me. I’ve been raised in a capitalist country where aspiration drives capitalistic wealth-building and a big home means laudable success, not “criminal” act. It is further dysfunctional because no one enforces the law, I am convinced. Certainly the governor here on Biliran lives in a palace and I defy anyone to stick this law under his nose and point out that he is above the limit.

Tough Love, by the Book

  • TITLE VIII, SUPPORT, Art. 194. Support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.

The education of the person entitled to be supported referred to in the preceding paragraph shall include his schooling or training for some profession, trade or vocation, even beyond the age of majority. Transportation shall include expenses in going to and from school, or to and from place of work. 

  • Art. 105. Subject to the provisions of the succeeding articles, the following are obliged to support each other to the whole extent set forth in the preceding article:

(1) The spouses;

(2) Legitimate ascendants and descendants;

(3) Parents and their legitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter;

(4) Parents and their illegitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter; and

(5) Legitimate brothers and sisters, whether of full or half-blood

I was set back by this section because it appears the much vaunted Filipino family ties are MANDATED. I thought they were voluntary, from the heart. But parents are obligated to care for their kids and kids are required to care for their parents. And brothers and sisters. Unless they are illegitimate, or course. Dump the little illegitimati penniless onto the street.

How in the world is this enforced? Gadzooks, there must be thousands of family law enforcers working the streets. Maybe that is why there are no police around when you need them. They are all out hunting down negligent brothers and sisters. That’s the only thing I can figure.

Man, if I were a Filipino citizen, I wouldn’t work, either. I’d have 10 kids and DEMAND that they take care of me.

Rather like my mother-in-law does, now that I think about it.

Which reminds me, another section of the law says that my mother-in-law owns the home I built for her because she lives in it. It is rather a sophisticated squatter’s right, also codified in the Family Code, I might add. I can never get her out. When I sell the place she will be able to extort thousands from me to extract her from the lot we share.

You have to understand that this is dramatically different from the American style. I was effectively on my own at age 16, working and putting myself through college. My parents only had high-school degrees and little money but they taught the good values of hard work and clean living. As I got older and had a well-paying job, I also knew that if I tried to give my parents financial help, they would take offense. Self-sufficiency is a matter of huge pride.

In the U.S., ownership also means control of property.  If my mother-in-law lives on my property, that does not make it her property, too.

“Bring it Home, Joe”

All this causes me to wonder . . . were the laws written to reflect:

  • A close level of bonding that occurs naturally within families in the Philippines?
  • Or some kind of idealized economic sharing that is socialist in its notion of mutual support?
  • Or is the current set of laws a result of the authoritarian manner imposed by Marcos and others?

A few weeks ago, I was stunned to read about a newly drafted Mandatory Remittance Bill put forward in the House that would impel OFWs to make payments to their family members or lose their passports. Well, expats may be upset, but if one reads the Family Code, one gets a clear sense that this “communism of the family” is well-ingrained in Filipino social rules.

We see codified in the law a mandated obedience for care of the family, versus a voluntary, self-motivated, from the heart, caring of the family. The former ensures enduring acrimony because there is no mechanism for release of conflict. The latter, if carried into law, would require public attention only to those disputes not resolved by the parties themselves.

We see codified in the law a mandated bondage for spouses of negligent mates. The Philippines is the last nation on earth to come to a fundamental enlightenment that divorce is a kind human right, and bondage is unkind.

Is there so little faith that, given the right to care for the family outside any laws, Filipinos far and wide would do the RIGHT thing because it is the right thing to do?

What to do? What to do?

If you like the mandates written into the Family Code, do nothing. Delete this blog and move on.

If you think the Family Code does not give Filipinos enough credit for being able to take care of themselves responsibly, give Senator Poe a second bill to write. A bill that takes the established Family Code out of commission and replaces it with a bill that:

  1. Adopts the simple social value that Filipinos are adults of compassion and capability and are fully capable of resolving family matters with minimal assistance from the State.
  2. Establishes a dispute resolution process managed by Family Code administrators rather than judges; administrators would be empowered to rule on property disputes, family matters and divorces.
  3. Includes only laws that are material and will have agencies actually enforcing them.
  4. Establishes that ownership means owner-control, not shared use. End the squatter problem.
  5. Mandates that cities and municipalities have robust programs to house and care for people of little means.

I choose Senator Poe because she is graced with compassion for families and is highly pragmatic and reasonable. She can grasp and apply a new “accountability” model for Philippine family law, one that is attuned to modern standards of human rights.

Senator Sotto, for example, does not have the requisite skill set, just as the dinosaur is no longer making rules for the animal kingdom.

41 Responses to “The Family Code: Insights into Filipino Culture”
  1. Joseph-Ivo says:

    Mix of common law and civil law. Civil law requiring generic legislation to be interpreted by a judge according the circumstances. Common law is leaving it to the judges to detail the law were necessary according the newness of the case. The lawmaker can be more specific if he wants to reduce the power or burden of a judge to interpret or specify a law. If you don’t trust your judges, specify, specify, specify. If you want to create opportunities for lawyers, over-specify, over-specify, over-specify. If you want to grind down justice to a halt, specify to the max and even Ampatuans will escape.

    Divorce is not allowed, but divorce and lying combined is allowed. Not a single annulment was ever pronounced on one of the grounds you mentioned. All were on psychological incapacity. All judges know that that is not true, all prosecutors know that that is not true, all lawyers now that that is not true, all psychologists know that that is not true, all witnesses know that that is not true, the public at large knows that the only real ground for annulment is spare money to share with judges, prosecutors, lawyers and psychologists. The amount only depends on the speed required and the status of the people involved. (10,000 annulments at PHP200,000 on average is a 2 billion yearly business for the judiciary)

    Forget family values, isn’t it Sy who benefits most from a mandatory remittance law? Life can be simple with access to rent.

    • Joe America says:

      That is a powerful statement, that kindness does not count. Material gain for the empowered counts. It seems true based on what I see. Discouraging.

      • Joseph-Ivo says:

        Not discouraging at all. Change exist. Change starts with a dream. Change starts by seeing opportunities. I feel that change is in the air. As in the past, people are not stupid but they are easily distracted. Today’s access to information is unprecedented. Eleven million Filipinos with a different perspective, seeing their barangay elders in a different light. And a president with a team that can make a difference.

  2. Jun Fallar says:

    “Family home” has a technical meaning. If it is a “family home’ as defined, it would be in general “exempt from execution, forced sale, or attachment” (Arts. 153,155). The palace of the Biliran governor, because of its monetary value, would not be a “family home”. If the governor is adjudged liable in a case, the judgment creditor could enforce the judgment by attaching the palace.

    “Mandatory remittance” is premised on the plight of spouses (mostly the wife) who are sometimes deprived support by the OFW yet are left with the burden of raising the kids. I know this, because one of my staff is in this situation. I’m not familiar with the amount/percentage that must remitted, but the concept does not altogether seem arbitrary.

    Yes, “psychological incapacity” is largely a legal fiction. I don’t think this concept is even accepted by serious psychologists.

    • Joe America says:

      Good of you to stop by, Jun. I appreciate the clarification on “family home” and the rationale behind the mandatory remittance legislation. It seems to me the punishment (“mandatory remittance”) is being levied against all OFW’s rather than just the culprits who are disobeying the established law that requires they support their family. I’d say give the spouse being poorly cared for the right to easily dump the deadbeat mate and take care of himself/herself. And let her/him attach the family home. Alternatively, get more disciplined enforcement and yank the passports for those who are negligent, today, under law. I suppose my mindset is to empower people to take care of themselves rather than mandate care.

      I once tracked through the annulment process. Kafkaesque in the extreme.

      • Jun Fallar says:


        Yanking the passport of the OFW would only result in him being jobless in this country. The wife ( it would mostly be the wife) could sue the OFW but it’s not really a practical option ( just think of the difficulty and expense of serving court summons on somebody beyond Philippine jurisdiction!). And it’s not as if the wife simply depends on the sporadic remittance; my staff continues to work, while taking care (as a single parent) of 2 young kids ( for which reason the law requires us employer to give her annually 7 days of paid “solo parent leave” to attend to such tasks as bringing the kids to the doctor and enrolling them in school, quite a burden indeed for employers). think the wife could demand the POEA to put him on a sort of “blacklist” but the resulting unemployment would only make things worse for the entire family ( and the local economy). Mandatory remittance may also have something to do with the government making sure the foreign currency remittances continue to pour in ( though even without this feature, I think OFWs would mostly remit part of their salaries). It will be interesting to know if most OFWs would view it as an unreasonable curtailment of individual freedom.

        With respect to parental obligations, I don’t think the law was crafted to enforce compliance. The law , I think, simply codified Filipino custom without expectation that it would used for purposes of litigation. In a way, it is unnecessary to put codify the custom but perhaps the legislators see it as a comforting thought. I have not heard of Filipino parents suing their children for parental support; it’s societal and family pressure, if not individual conscience (and perhaps love and affection) , that would compel support to the aged parents. And I know of children abandoning their aged parents who would then be supported in some ways by collateral relatives (nephews and nieces). Of course, support is premised on the need for it. “Rich” parents cannot demand it, as a matter of law. I and my wife ourselves would not want to depend on our son in the future, though we are likely to support him still if somehow he flounders in his life choices.

        • Joe America says:

          As to paragraph 1, I think OFW’s have screamed, and will scream, and ought to scream, and the representative who proposed the bill will never get it passed. The Philippines is moving rapidly into modern times (RH Bill), and will not stand to be dragged back to impotence under the state’s directive.

          Paragraph 2 is absolutely fascinating. “I don’t think the law was crafted to enforce compliance”. That actually makes sense, that the Family Code is rather a statement of “morality” to be believed as good, but not necessarily followed, just as we all commit our various sins, and forgive ourselves. That certainly explains why other laws, too, are so easily ignored. So law in the Philippines is for moral guidance. If we don’t follow it, others understand, and forgive us.

          That’s why we elect convicted plunderers to high office, too . . .

          Thanks for that lightning strike, a big time “oh, I get it mow!” moment . . . .

          Laws are just an ideal that no human can live up to, so it’s okay to fall into sin now and then.

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      In my country we have tough laws for outstanding debts to the treasury. As the treasury pays advances to women who do not receive their rightful allowances from their husbands, you get utang to the treasury by not paying your dues to your spouse.

      First when you get your passport, somewhere in small print is written that you are not allowed to use it when you have utang to the treasury. So people are stopped at immigration because they didn’t pay parking tickets, if you leave via sneaky ways your passport is withhold on return. Second, because not everybody has/needs a passport, now the discussion is to no longer provide driver licenses, car registrations and so on to people with outstanding debts to the treasury. (Driving without a registration results automatically in the confiscation of your car, you’ll have to continue your trip walking, “if you want use our roads, you follow our rules” – when you behave, officers might give you a lift to the next bus station. Also every province has at least one police car with automatic plate detection on line linked to the central registration database, they love cruising large parking spaces on busy days.)

      Citizens have rights and obligations, not fulfilling your obligations waves your rights. You think you can play with different laws, then we have different laws for you too. Philippines be generic in your legislation, do not try to catch every single case of unlawfulness and do not link it to a specific penalty. Philippines a law only makes sense if you can enforce it. Filipinos, your lawmakers make your laws, what quality of laws do you expect from boxers mothers and movie stars’ children?

  3. Geng says:

    This is the first time I read the laws about marriage and annulment so I was kind of taken aback by the backwardness of the minds of the people who drafted them. And to imagine that we are living in the so-called modern times!
    The Americans who first came to the Cordillera mountains called the native tribes they found there savages and uncivilized. Now I don’t know what other people will think when I say that I found their ancient rituals and customs and traditions that they practice to this day modern and attuned to the times.
    The Kalingas call their marriage celebration “palanos” wherein the bride and groom are declared a couple by the elders of the community. A church wedding may sometime follow but it is only for record purposes because the native tradition is much more binding and highly respected by the parties concerned.
    Divorce or an amicable settlement to separate can happen with the consent of the elders again in mostly cases of inability to produce an offspring, never of domestic abuse or any other inhuman causes common in so-called modern civilized societies we are so proud to be living in. An undertaking that entails no expenses since no attorneys or judges are involved in the process.
    One thing I admire most about them is the independence of the children once they could go on their own; the parents work their butts out until old age incapacitates them so they do not rely for any help from their children.
    Which, I’d like to say, should be a point of reference for Senator Poe or any other sane lawmaker to start with if a new bill for marriage and families could be drafted and enacted into law.
    And a law, I firmly hope this time, that should not beg for enforcement.

    • Joe America says:

      Absorbing perspective, Geng. We are quite foolish people, and there is a refreshing wisdom to tribal ways. I share your wishes for a law that uplifts the individual, and is enforceable. And a simple, quick judicial process.

  4. Joe Rivera says:

    Your third preamble shows your ignorance of family law in the US. Of course, the US has laws regarding family and matrimonial issues such as divorce, child support, child custody, property division between spouses, and related matters. But these laws are left to each State to determine and most of these laws are uniformly similar in all the States.

    • Joe America says:

      Ignorance is bliss, I guess, as I was held in ignorance by a family situation that required no lawyers or guidance outside the family, because my parents were responsible and only got involved with legal matters in the settling of estates of and for relatives. My first marriage cost me $18.50 and the judge’s secretary was the witness. Divorce was no-fault and concluded with ease. We went on to live most happy lives apart from one another.

      My point was that one ought to be able to live one’s life according to common sense and decency, not by State mandates. The State should clean up after the negligent, not harass the responsible. I know there are plenty of laws in the U.S. Most of them uphold the rights of individuals.

    • Americans are a specialized breed. Lawyers, social workers, mental health practitioners, and law enforcers have to know about family law. For citizens who specialize in other fields, there is only a need to know family laws when a situation arises that infringe on their human rights.

  5. edgar lores says:

    1. “Article 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life.”

    2. Right there I stop because of:
    2.1. The word “permanent”.
    2.2. The phrase “a man and a woman”.

    3. Why?
    3.1. In acknowledgment of the need for divorce law.
    3.2. in respect of polygamists, polyamorists and the LGBT (or LGBTIQ) community.

  6. Juana Pilipinas says:

    I do not know how they do it in the Philippines but in the US, family law cases need to go to arbitration first. The case only go on a court’s docket if the arbitration fails to resolve the contention.

    Yes. We need to end the squatter problem because unscrupulous politicians are exploiting them. I just read that Joseph Estrada gave a notice to 3 oil companies to vacate their Pandacan premises. He does not do something about the squatter problem in Manila because they vote for him and his political allies but he can intimidate productive industries.

    In regards to supporting children, brothers, and sisters, there should be an age limit. I think 18 should be the cut off. Supporting them beyond that will breed dependence.

    As for parents, a responsible person does not need a law to take care of their parents/grandparents if needed. We assisted my parents whenever they need it when they were alive. We took care of my father-in-law when he suffered from cancer. He stayed with us and we took care of him until he fully recovered. He likes his independence so he went back to his home when he got healthy. We moved my mother-in-law and her widowed sister in town so we can be there if they need something as they are getting up there in years. There is no US law obliging us to do so.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, individual accountability (US laws) and firm punishment of those who harm others, versus mandated group dependencies (Philippine laws) and weak or arbitrary systems of punishment. The Philippine system appears to constrain responsible people from making decisions that improve their lives (divorce), while negligent people get away with cheating.

    • edgar lores says:

      On age 18:

      1. In Australia the age of majority is 18 while the age of consent (for sex) is 16.
      1.1. Exception: In Queensland, the age of sodomy is 18.
      1.1. In Australia, you can kick out children at the age of majority.

      2. I think the age of independence should vary according to intelligence, aptitude and parental support.
      2.1. Assuming a K12 educational scheme, a child will begin schooling at age 4 and complete Year 12 at 16 or 17.
      2.1.1. Year 10 is generally taken to be the equivalent of High School.
      2.1.2. Year 12 is generally taken to be the equivalent of the first 2 years of a baccalaureate.

      3. An Aptitude Test is usually given at the end of Year 12. This is known as SAT (US),
      HSC (Australia) and CET (India). This should be used as the basis for admission to college and selection of a degree. Note that some governments offer higher education loans, scholarships or even free higher education.

      3.1. Those who do not finish Year 12 or do not take the Aptitude Test, have the choice of going to a vocational school (providing they complete Year 10) or taking an apprenticeship. For these people, they can be independent at age 18.

      3.2. For those with low scores in the Aptitude Test who do not qualify for admission to college, they can go the vocational/apprenticeship route. They, too, can be independent at age 18.

      3.3. For those with middling scores who qualify for admission, they can take a two-year course for a Bachelor’s degree. For these people, they can be independent at age 20, providing they are able to find a job pertinent to their studies.

      3.4. For those with high scores, they can take a three-, four-, five- or higher- year course in dentistry, science, engineering, medicine, physics or whatever. For these people, they can be independent at the age 21, 22 or 23, or whenever they complete their studies.

      4. This means that the government should ensure that training in vocational schools – and even in tertiary schools – should lead to real jobs.

      On support of aging parents:

      1. In Western societies, parents do not obligate their children to care for them in their old age.

      2. Filipinos who go abroad usually adopt this practice, because they are mandated to save for their retirement and the state usually provides some sort of age pension.

      3. I’m not sure that there should be a law for children to support aging parents. If you create the law, you create the dependence.
      3.1. Parents should strive as much as possible to provide for their own future.
      3.2. Parents should only have as many children as they can support while also providing for their own future. The ecstasy of creation should not lead to the chaos of entropy.
      3.2. Children should support their parents if they can, but not because they must.
      3.3. The state should intervene only if and when necessary. Perhaps, the Philippine government should have a non-contributory age pension.

  7. Geng says:

    A friend and his wife who are dual citizens of the USA and the Philippines invited me at their house in Tagaytay.City about a year ago. In between sips of red wine after lunch, they told me that it was their 37th wedding anniversary. I was not surprised to learn that they had been together that long because I knew both of them as matured and sensible people who really understood their commitments to each other.
    What took me by surprise was when they told me that they had this sort of an agreement to ask each other every five years if they still want to go on living with each other and make a go of the vows that they solemnly swore to uphold till death do them part.
    This was unusual for a couple who I can see had no serious problem with money or illness of any kind or with their two kids who already have families of their own. They were just so open-minded that anyone of them could be having a change of mind or the feeling isn’t there anymore and so they always wanted a straightforward answer from each other.
    Which they happily agree on based on their reactions to the question I asked how were they so sure of each other’s commitment. They lovingly gazed at each other and exclaimed “walang plastikan.”.
    I wrote about this short narrative because I think people should know that there are unique people in this universe who had that unwavering confidence and trust in their partners because they fully understand that honesty should and must be the basis of any union if it is expected to last.
    There had been so many marriages held with expensive celebrations but ended up with the couple uncoupling acrimoniously and hating the bitter? half due to immaturity and unpreparedness for a married life.
    Could this serve as a cue for Senator Poe or any other lawmakers to draft a bill about marriage that will stipulate an expiration date of any number of years? Divorce, which is unlikely to be approved by the Catholic church, is expensive and annulment could not be had for free, so I hope this suggestion would be up for consideration.

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      I would even dare to say that there are more wonderful people than there are bastards. Nature did a marvelous job in wiring our brains. Most are well adapted to live a responsible life. But sometimes nature tries some new wirings and that is not always successful. In combination with environmental factors – opportunities – these people can be real harmful to society. This is why we need legislation to protect us from their asocial behavior. But it is unrealistic to expect good legislation when you keep electing boxers mothers and movie stars’ children as lawmakers, some with very questionable wirings.

      • edgar lores says:


        You mean there are more people like us?! Will wonders never cease?!


        1. I suggest 7 years because, you know, the 7-year itch. 😉
        2. Why does the State need the approval of the Church on divorce?

  8. pussyfooter says:

    I’d hesitate to tread where Sirs Lores and Ivo and Madam Gang have gone before, but that said, I daresay you are cutting pretty close now to the “true” “heart” (arguable, but only superficially I’d think) of mainstream Filipino culture.

    As much as the prevailing Family Code may irk you, it is (for good or ill–having similar views to yours, I’d say ill) possibly one of the more culturally authentic laws we’ve got, literally, goin’ on. It was put together in the late 80s under a President who got to her position because she was the modest, quiet, almost ostentatiously Catholic housewife of a charming, bombastic martyr, by a group of middle- and older-aged members of the kinda-sorta intelligentsia of their day (like as not, descended from longtime major landowners), most of whom were male and possibly all of whom were married parents. From here one presumably can already see the considerable limitations the new Code would be born straight into: priest-approved, machismo-deferring, for a start. It was “groundbreaking” enough for a wife to be ALLOWED to have a job–if Daddy didn’t disapprove, of course. This may have been the 50s for the US, but it was very much the 80s-90s (and in some cases, as you go lower on the SES/urbanity scale, even the 00s-present) for the Philippines.

    I’m not defending it at all. I’m just contextualizing if necessary. And I’m sure people can thus see why today’s society–priests, poor unemployed baby-making males (oh sorry wait that’s redundant), and all–is not likely going to let Sen. Poe or anybody “improve” the present law just like that.

    I’d hate to get anyone into a sulk again, but for example, “the simple social value that Filipinos are adults of compassion and capability and are fully capable of resolving family matters with minimal assistance from the State” can be surprisingly uncommon and even disapproved here. Again for good or ill, the prevailing mindset (again, esp. as you go lower in SES/formal education and in urbanity) is that the whole barangay gets in on the action. And if the traditional nanays have their say, wifey submits. Women are generally not treated as adults, nor have they often been raised to treat themselves as such.

    “Establishes a dispute resolution process managed by Family Code administrators rather than judges; administrators would be empowered to rule on property disputes, family matters and divorces.” –and how many of those rulings would just spend 10+ more years being steadily elevated through the judicial hierarchy all the way to the Supreme Court, I wonder? As long as finances hold, of course.

    “Includes only laws that are material and will have agencies actually enforcing them.” Oh but then you’d be driving so many mindless petty bureaucrats out of a job!

    “Establishes that ownership means owner-control, not shared use. End the squatter problem.” Politically not viable, and then you’d have to deal with the dear old CHR. And the feces-wrapped-in-plastic-bags missiles, of course, in lieu of which one might be glad to take a dos-por-dos to the face.

    “Mandates that cities and municipalities have robust programs to house and care for people of little means.” I’m afraid in too many cities and municipalities, those programs are called “allow them to live in high-risk, supposedly-no-build areas then blame the national government when the next natural disaster slams in.”

    On a hopefully less glum note, the lack of active enforcement does, it seems, tend to encourage people to resolve disputes on their own and otherwise take matters into their own hands. In practice, the law only gets implemented when lawyers step in–and prudent, intelligent Pinoy adults typically know better than to let THAT happen. (Then again, how many of the population would fit that description?) And even though stuff like “serious objections to wifey’s actually having a life outside the house” is black-letter law, it’s rarely enforced–possibly because the kind of unenlightened male who still does that is too poor/ignorant to go to court over it.

    The downside of “vigilanteism” unfortunately is when the stupid idiot law catches up with them. And so you have “illegitimate” families suing “legit” ones over inheritances, insisting that the “legit” family mistreated the parent (which may even be true), etc.

    Incidentally (sorry this is overlong…ignore as you wish hehe), re psychological incapacity– Just yet another illustration of how unscientific our dear lawyers can be. You might be amused at the various forms this psychological incapacity can take. (Lucky for the holy institution of the Family, however, State policy defaults to “suffer, suckahs”.) From what I gather, there is considerable division in the local psych community over whether it’s even OK for a psychologist to participate aka testify in these cases.

    • pussyfooter says:

      I’ve written in white heat, so do forgive the lapses (and upon request I could do the Googling re: composition of the Family Code Commission, but otherwise–hey, it’s the weekend *whine*) but if there’s one thing I’d best clarify, maybe this: “Women are generally not treated as adults, nor have they often been raised to treat themselves as such.”

      The same could probably be said for men, actually. Citation needed, but in cohesive communities (i.e. not what you’d typically find in the bigger cities) the general social hierarchy still puts the elders on top (plus priests, sigh) and younger folk down the rungs. Still, as happens elsewhere in the world, even the women tend to uphold the patriarchal system. (Even though, as you’ve noted in your blog before, there IS a special, possibly unique place of a certain power for Pinoy women in society, both to their advantage and disadvantage.)

      • Your generalization about women might be true but there are a lot of strong women who are/were treated well in PI. My great-grandfather sent his daughters to Europe to get college degrees when the PI norm was to marry off daughters to the wealthiest family in the region. Women in my family are empowered to pursue their full potential. I grew up surrounded by people who were comfortable with strong, intelligent and capable women. I guess I should thank my lucky star…

        • pussyfooter says:

          It’s true though, there are certainly significant exceptions to that generalization. Then again, it seems that your family was well off enough for your fore…mothers to study abroad, which does support the idea that families of higher socio-economic status tend to be less unenlightened 🙂 but yes, may there be more of you and your ancestors/tresses 🙂

    • Geng says:

      Sorry, Pussyfooter. If you mean me, I’m a sir, a he.

      • pussyfooter says:

        Oh, sorry about that! I think I associated you with/misread your name as Gang Badoy. I stand corrected 🙂

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, my, pussyfooter, you certainly don’t pussyfoot, you dance the literate twirl, and, opposite of sulk, I find myself alternately smiling, laughing so loud that I risk waking my sleeping wife, or slapping myself upon the forehead at the impossibility of getting decent laws into place hereabouts. In conclusion, I could have read forever, wish you would opine more often, thank you for the insights, agree with you 200%, and hope you have a fine day.

      • pussyfooter says:

        Haha I’m happy to amuse instead of depress, anytime 🙂 I’m glad you agree, especially since you might have much better personal, firsthand knowledge of rural community power dynamics, as I’ve been a city girl all my life 🙂

    • edgar lores says:


      You are misnomered! Unless you are a mammoth-sized lion or lioness.

      Here I was, having breakfast coffee, and suddenly the coffee tasted sweeter, sugared no doubt by such phrases as “kinda-sorta intelligentsia”, “machismo-deferring”, “baby-making males” and many more.

      Honestly, I was so amused – nay, dazzled – by your stream-of-consciousness that I failed to comprehend your points. All I could grasp was the enormity of this insight which seems to apply to all Law starting from the Zoroastrian Code, through the Ten Commandments, and stretching all the way to the Cybercrime Law: “[State/religious] policy defaults to “Suffer, suckahs.” And how!

      • pussyfooter says:

        Haha sorry, I’m afraid I’m not the crystal-clearest of streamers myself. Especially when it’s a topic that induces particular enthusiasm in me–human foibles, in a sense ;p

        I’m more textbook than personal experience at this point, but it seems that, for good or ill, eminently human factors play a huge role in seemingly suprahuman institutions. And so their effects largely depend on the quality of the humans behind them–as we Pinoys should know very well.

        • edgar lores says:

          Human foibles, eh?

          Apart from baby-making, I’ve been thinking, what good is the male of the species?

          1. Baby-making
          2. Bringing home the bacon
          3. Bringing out the garbage

          Is the sequence by importance right? The first ensures the persistence of humanity. The second ensures the present well-being of humanity. And the third ensures… the garbage is picked up by the garbage truck. Hehe.

          • pussyfooter says:

            And yeah, garbage trucks are usually manned by, um, men, too 😉

            As a female, I’d have to say males are at least useful for lifting heavy things, garbage or otherwise. Females though arguably have similarly few unique advantages too–manual dexterity, or so they say, and the patience to put up with fumbling males? 😉

  9. ella says:

    Filipinos, including myself are all developmentally delayed in all aspects of life. We only learn to develop when we are exposed to all the things that are happening outside of our little circles. I really hope that with technology we will learn what we should improve on.

    • Joe America says:

      The resistance to new ideas is indeed persistent, and the adherence to old ideas (superstitions, for example) almost impossible to eradicate. How does one let go of something that is so important, yet so meaningless? I’d say you have the advantage because you are aware of that resistance. And I never walk under ladders . . .

  10. Janice says:

    The irony about the Philippines and American family code (if it exist) is that, for most part, Philippine laws will let the couple work out their problems before interfering. (Goes down to baranggay level where the tanods will tell the spouse to sort our their problems), meanwhile, in the US, the government seem to automatically intervene as long as someone has filed something.

    The unfortunate thing though about “American family laws” is that it has shifted to being anti-men.

  11. Maria says:

    I have just read your 2014 blogs. has the proposed divorce law in the Philippines been passed since? any amendments to the Family code since?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.