Abused wives recount tales of anguish, despair at divorce bill hearing
MANILA, Philippines – One was abandoned while another nearly committed suicide because of a violent, abusive husband.
Ma. Stella Sibonga and Len Arcilla, both of the Divorce Coalition of the Philippines, were among the resource persons who narrated their painful married life at the first discussion of the divorce bill in the Senate on Tuesday.
Of infidelity, violence, abuse
It was in 2002 when her husband started his infidelity, Len told the Senate committee on women.
When she gave her a second chance, she thought they were off to a fresh start.
She was wrong.
“Pero after nun naging bangungot na. Yung mga anak ko, lalo na eldest ko lagi nyang sinasaktan, sinasakal nya. Sinisikmuraan nya tapos ako tinutukan nya ako ng kutsilyo (It became a nightmare from there. He would hit and strangle the children and poke a knife at me),” she said in between sobs.
Despite the ordeal, she stayed with her husband just to keep their family intact.
In 2010, Len said her husband told her that he had a stay-in job only to find out that he was living in with another woman.
“Symepre lagi kaming nag aaway. Nananakit sya , sinasakal nya ako. There are times lahat ginawa ko kahit four times na sex pinagbibigyan ko sya, pero pinili nyang sumama kabit nya. Iniwanan nya kami,” she said.
But it did not end there.
Len said she begged her husband not leave them and said she was willing to “share” him with the mistress.
Still, her husband left and abandoned them.
But Len is not alone.
In the same hearing, an emotional Stella recounted her difficult married life with her husband who was forced to marry her when she got pregnant at 18.
She recounted that said her husband became an alcoholic and a bum, always blaming her for their marriage.
“Sasabihin sayo: Bakit? Pinilit lang naman akong magpakasal sayo di ba? Magtiis ka hanggat gusto mo. Kung ayaw mo e di umalis ka (He would tell me that he was just forced to get married. If you cannot take me any longer then leave).”
There was even a time, she said, where she caught him with another woman.
But Sibonga stayed for their three children.
She admitted thinking of ending considering suicide, twice.
They eventually separated in 2005 or 2006.
Sibonga said she filed for an annulment in 2011 and was granted after five years.
A motion for reconsideration, however, has been filed at the Solicitor General’s office.
Seafarer’s marital storm at sea
But it seems that women are not always at the receiving end. Take the case of Marco Anthony Luna, also of the Divorce Coalition of the Philippines.
Luna, a former seaman, recalled during the hearing how his wife suddenly lost interest in him when he returned home in 1994.
“I was devastated,” he told the committee, adding that he had to see a doctor so he could sleep at night.
The couple reconciled until the wife asked in 2009 if she could work abroad.
While at sea in 2011, Luna said he received an email from his wife who said she wanted out of the marriage.
“It’s a bullet point email stating all her reasons why so I can’t do anything because I was in the ship. She only informed me but she did not try to get my side… I was devastated,” he said.
Luna said he immediately called his employer to cancel the 80 percent allotment for his wife.
“Lost” at sea
“Can anyone here know how it feels to work in the middle of nowhere, give what you have earned to someone who is disrespecting you? I don’t think none of you ever experienced that. None of you.”
Still, he tried to save their marriage that they ended up living in Baguio City.
But they ended up living in separate rooms.
“I did everything I can to save the marriage,” Luna said.
He said he wanted to file for an annulment but could not afford a P200,000 initial payment and other fees every hearing.
“I later discovered that infidelity, domestic violence and all sorts of these bad things happening in a marriage is a form of injustice. We’re seeking for justice,” he added. /gsg