Mistresses are such an embedded part of the Philippines society that newspaper columnist Julie Yap Daza even wrote a book on how they should behave: “Etiquette for Mistresses: And What Wives Can Learn From Them.” Ms. Daza calls them “holiday orphans” since they cannot meet with their lovers on such holidays as Christmas or Valentine's Day where they will be home with their wives.
Philippine politicians, including former president Joseph Estrada, even admitted to having children by different mistresses. Many of these corrupt politicians used (and still use) government funds to lavish their “girlfriends” with lavish homes and gifts.
But not only the rich and powerful keep mistresses in the Philippines. One of my wife's relatives just down our muddy subdivision road has one that he had a child with, and the woman now lives in the same home as his wife! If I were him, I would probably follow the advice of the Metallica song , “Enter the Sandman”, and sleep with one eye open. I'd be afraid of losing a certain part of my anatomy during the night.
Due to the majority of Filipinos belonging to the Catholic faith, and the heavy influence of the Catholic church, divorce is banned in the Philippines. Expensive and lengthy annulments are legal but rarely allowed. Some figures put the annulment denial rate as high as 95%.
Some couples merely separate, as my mother-in-law and father-in-law have done. My father-in-law was staying at the house last year after a knee injury but left when his 77-year-old, 75 pound estranged wife kicked down the door of the nipa hut he was living in that is located in our backyard. She wanted to get something out of the hut. He refused to unlock the door for her, and my mother-in-law, the Feared Giant Lizard Killer, smashed the door open with just a few kicks.
My wife's Cousin Chris, whose wife left him for another man, ended up marrying another Filipina he met. This is also a common practice in the Philippines. Divorce is not available even for philandering or abusive spouses so a lot of people end up doing what Cousin Chris did.
I told the story once of a jeepney that I was a passenger of being stopped at a checkpoint by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Guimaras during a weapons check for the past Presidential elections. The PNP officer announced to me that he knew my driver, Larry, did not have legal marriage papers for his current wife, but as long as he had a valid driver's license, the officer said he did not care.
In an article in the Strait Times Blogs entitled “Filipinos and their Number Twos”, Ms. Daza, the writer of the aforementioned etiquette book for mistresses, states : "But for every 500 philandering husbands you will probably only find one married woman doing the same." Ms. Daza notes that Filipino women have too much to lose in terms of financial security to risk getting caught.
Before moving to the Philippines with my beautiful Filipina wife last July 2009, I had no idea that the practice of having mistresses was so accepted and widespread in the Philippines. I had thought with the majority of Filipinos being conservative Catholics that such a practice would be condemned.
However, I have even seen articles online where some Catholic priests have mistresses that live with them and their children. I have to shake my head sometimes and wonder what's going on. After I was even approached recently by a mistress, possibly on the prowl, I really, personally, have to question what is being taught in the local masses. Is anyone listening?