Queridas in "The Chieftest Mourner" and "Relasyon"

 

“The Chieftest Mourner” and “Relasyon” present the image of queridas in a different light. People may have different perspectives regarding this, but I think “The Chieftest Mourner” presents the scandalous nature of queridas and their “pagiging makapal ang mukha” while the movie “Relasyon” presents queridas as mere human beings, only that their actions are not societally and traditionally accepted especially in the patriarchal system. I think this is mainly because of the perspectives in which both stories are told: “The Chieftest Mourner” was narrated by the niece of a great Filipino poet and her sympathy is clearly on the legal wife, while in “Relasyon,” the protagonist is a querida, played by Vilma Santos who was a great star during her time. It is actually hard to side to either the legal wife or the querida, as they are both victims of men, but this is clearly the result of patriarchy since men were historically permitted to have lots of wives while women were not.

In “The Chieftest Mourner,” my sympathy really went to the poet’s first wife because of the scene at the funeral. The querida was trying hard to be recognized as the real wife, making the first wife look stupid or evil with the help of her acting skills. Yes, she helped the poet during his hard times, but isn’t that what a wife is naturally supposed to do? She makes it seem like she is the one who suffered the most. Whoever suffered the most, I do not care, but was it really necessary to make a scene and accuse the first wife of whatever? The legal wife was just quietly and simply mourning, as opposed to the querida who was letting the whole world know about how grievous she was. And that just looks phony to me. Of course, there would be an air of hostility between them – it’s natural since the first wife felt like she was robbed of her husband. I have some friends who lost their fathers because of mistresses; and from their perspective, the queridas are really shameless because they’d still fight for their sexual desires even at the cost of destroying a whole family unit.

“Relasyon,” however, I think is an attempt to justify the queridas as marginalized beings in the society. The circumstances and the dialogues of the characters explicitly present how queridas are at a really disadvantaged situation especially here in the Philippines. It is especially said by the uncle of Marilou who was a lawyer:

“Wala eh. Kasi wala namang diborsyo sa Pilipinas. Maski makakuha siya ng diborsyo sa ibang bansa, halimbawa sa Amerika, hindi rin naman kikilalanin dito sa atin eh. Hindi pa rin siya pwede mag-asawa. Naku, iha. Talo ka sa sitwasyon mong ganyan. Ang meron lang dito sa atin, legal separation. Ang ibig sabihin, pwedeng maghiwalay ang mag-asawa, pero hindi na maaaring magpakasal na muli sa iba. Iha, mahirap ang pinasukan mong iyan. Isipin mong mabuti ang ginagawa mo. Unang-una sa batas, wala kang legal personality. Hindi mo maaaring ikabit yung apelyido niya sa pangalan mo. Wala kang conjugal property. Maski sa sweldo nya, wala kang karapatan. Yung sweldo ng lalaki, belongs to the legal wife. Kung saka-sakaling mamatay siya, wala kang mana.”

Yet at the same time, I do not think that the movie intends to promote adultery or neglect our morals. It only presents the reality that betrayals really happen during marriages and that only the females are shamed, blamed, or ridiculed for adultery. Most of the time we just tolerate men who cheat because that is “just part of their masculinity”. However, women always get labels such as bitch, slut, or whore even though the men may be the first to seduce them. It also presents the hard paths of queridas in Philippine society because we still hold on to the patriarchal society that our colonizers have instilled in us.

Regarding queridas, I may have empathy for them but I do not personally tolerate their behavior – not because of a bias or being judgmental, but because women who choose to be queridas are not in any way loving themselves and knowing their true worth. A woman who knows her true worth and beauty would not settle for a man who is already committed to another man; instead, she would be with a single man because his singleness is an assurance that his devotion would be completely poured into one woman, unlike married men with mistresses who juggle two women at a time. Also, queridas somehow betray their own sex. If we aim for women empowerment, then we must know that we are all sisters and thus we must protect each other rather than hurt each other. The patriarchal society has pitted one woman against another ever since – and that is not a good way to live our lives as women. Both “The Chieftest Mourner” and “Relasyon” has shown how men collect women like playthings while women get hurt in the process. Women hurt each other, and blame each other, rather than the men and the patriarchal system which started all this chaos in the first place. 

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