The legal wife

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By Dennis Limlingan

The Advocate

Thursday, May 22, 2014

WITH the popularity of a telenovela series that is said to be gaining wide viewership among Filipinos, the issue on the rights of the woman who was taken in front of the altar or married under civil rights by the man whom he was separated with either by annulment or by physical separation is put into highlight.

I may not be a fan of the television series but from the title of it may give one a bird’s eye view of what is all about. It may have been happening now in some relationships, probably the reason why many are watching it.

Without watching even an episode of it, I can tell that it’s the usual story of a relationship entangled wherein one is clandestinely involved with another despite the legal impediment and impossibility.


The perhaps started with a legally married couple who seems to have a complete and satisfying relationship until the husband meets a woman with qualities he didn’t find with the legal wife.

The husband then slowly finds the other woman more attractive than her wife until he unconsciously falls in her arms. He then finds fulfillment to what for him lacks his wife and would later on building bridges to the second woman’s heart.

As for a typical love triangle story, the other woman finds out the relationship and would then confront his husband about it.

The story usually ends up with the legal wife asking her husband to choose between the two women of his life. Often, the legal wife is chosen over the other, despite the man’s heart bleeding for his love to the other woman.

The man then wishes to have two hearts to give to his two loves but his marriage to the legal wife prevails.

The usual end of it would be the other woman finding her own love while reviving the beating of her heart due to the pain of being left alone versus the legal wife and the man they both love.

This is the usual story of love, deceit, struggle, victory and loss.


On a serious note, even the Supreme Court sympathizes with the legal wife.

The highest tribunal of the land recently came up with an en banc Decision that recognized the legal’s wife’s rights to her husband’s remains even if the latter had been cohabiting with another woman during the last 15 years of his life.

The Supreme Court has stated that the law confines the right and duty to the legal wife in making funeral arrangements to the members of the “original” family of the deceased to the exclusion of the common law wife of the husband when he died.

The high court’s case emanated from a complaint filed by the dead man’s wife before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court against the second wife of his husband. The complainant introduced herself as the legal wife.

The legal wife has also pleaded before the court to order the exhumation of the body of the deceased which was interred in the common law wife’s family mausoleum. The husband died and was buried at the said place without the consent of the legal wife who was then abroad.

The second wife meanwhile claimed that it was the deceased’s wish to be buried in his common law wife’s family mausoleum, thus her compliance.

In the end, after the case was elevated to the high court, the legal wife was recognized as the rightful owner of the body of his husband and that to continue to allow the cadaver to stay in the family mausoleum of second wife would be tantamount to disrespect to her family.

The true story seems to be a portion of a movie that portrays the conflicts arising from extra marital relationships. Perhaps there are now many relationships which resemble such stories of those being involved in love triangles that we have now a telenovela that is all about the legal and the illegal wife. Art imitates life and life imitates art, as they say.


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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on May 23, 2014.


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