But because she was a single mother to needy, confused, and rebelling children aged 12, seven, and one, and relying solely on uncle’s monthly contributions, it never went anywhere. She missed appearing in the pre-trial after a letter from the court got lost in the mail, and she wasn’t allowed to continue on with the case.
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Since then, it was a tug-of-war between who will file the next case. One being too busy managing the home and the other focused on a blossoming career and supporting his children and parents. Filing for annulment is also quite costly with an estimated P165,000-P300,000 budget, at the very least. It’s quite unfair to those who can’t even make P150,000 yearly (the divorce process, should the bill pass, will be much cheaper). And what do they base the case on? Psychological incapacity? Fraud? What evidence will they present?
Aunt turned to God at those trying moments. “I don’t think I would be this sane if it wasn’t for the relationship I developed with Jesus. Imagine, I had no job, uncle wasn’t consistent with giving his contributions back then, and I had my young children. I went through hell. I thought of taking my own life, but who will look after my children? I just had to press on,” aunt shared. She shares she learned to trust 'Him' and 'His' plan for their lives.
Years passed and she found it in her heart to forgive uncle.
They worked on the best set-up for their kids with uncle visiting every weekend. It was like nothing happened. They went out on out-of-town trips and spent major holidays together. The kids grew up with a present father and a semblance of a complete family. “Even if it was trying at times, it was a sacrifice I was willing to take. I would tell my kids that he wasn’t a good husband but he’s a great father. It’s important for them to understand that,” aunt said.
It was also in these trying times that aunt found a vocation and passion for helping single mothers. She became a ministry head for these women, teaching them the word of God as she held regular meetings with them. She was on call 24/7 to their needs. She trained as a counselor and worked to help other women go through their marital issues and separations. Here she found the strength she didn’t think could exist in her. Her faith continued to grow strong, and her beliefs and example helped her children develop the same relationship with Jesus. Her children related that such passed on values are far better than monetary inheritance, and they thank her for molding them to be strong, compassionate, hard-working, judicious, and spiritual individuals.
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In 2011, uncle filed for the case on the grounds of aunt’s psychological incapacity. It was both relieving and poignant, admitting to thoughts of how things would be if they get back together but also finally appeased that this long, far too long, chapter will soon be closed.
She met her partner the same year and they’ve been together since. A life free to make her own decisions, maybe to even remarry, wasn’t a fantasy anymore.
In 2014, the RTC ruling was in favor of the annulment. However, in 2015, the Sol. Gen. brought the case to the Court of Appeals, where it was declared in 2017 that there is no dissolution of marriage. “It’s sad that despite us going the legal route, we still failed to meet the standards. It forces couples to come up with lies just to get the decision they deserve. And it pushes parties to live a life not in accordance to their values, if they find another partner they want to spend their lives with,” she shared. It’s baffling too, what other basis the Sol. Gen. has, now that the aunt and uncle’s children have grown to have their own families. What is there to salvage? Who is there to save or protect? Uncle plans to re-open the case this year and the battle will tread on.
“I’ve lost interest in the institution of marriage, and I’m too old to remarry. I find that you work on a relationship more when you know you can just walk away easily, compared to a marriage where you can feel stuck with someone who may just want to leave. But after being separated for 25 years, we do deserve to live our lives freely. Right now, that’s all I want. But I believe there’s a reason for all of this. And I trust God with His ultimate plan,” aunt ended.