Saturday, February 08, 2014

Other side of midnight


It was educational to listen to the recent interview by broadcaster Korina Sanchez of beleaguered showbiz personality Vhong Navarro.

Navarro has been accused by Deniece Cornejo of raping her. Navarro has accused Cornejo of conspiring with Cedric Lee and friends to maul him and extort money from him. The opposing parties have filed their respective cases in court.

In the YouTube version showing snippets of the interview, Navarro first said that this incident taught him to be careful in deciding whom to trust. The second lesson was, in his words, “dapat maging (we must be) faithful”.

When I was listening to the evening primetime news, what struck me was Navarro’s spontaneous admission of his failure to be faithful to his girlfriend and his gratitude that, in the thick of the controversy, she was more concerned of his welfare (“mas iniisip pa niya ako”).

The following day, news media also singled out this particular revelation. “Vhong Navarro learns fidelity the hard way” headed an report.

Will Navarro boost monogamy better than a million sermons or testimonials about self-denial and constancy?

By the logic of the serially unfaithful, a priest bound by celibacy or a husband in terror of wife or in-laws can no more pass the test of choices as a vegetarian being confronted by a table groaning under the weight of succulent meats.

The association of food and women is inescapable. When the interview was aired on the news, I heard Navarro say that since he was younger, he had always been keen on women, “lamas (spice) ng buhay”. I cannot find this phrase anymore in the videos of the interview uploaded on YouTube.

Even if I misheard Navarro, there are plenty of allusions to women and food in language. A “chick’s boy” is, defying the literal translation, not limited to only one but probably the whole henhouse. “Ito ang manok ko (this is my choice)” is the blurb of a popular comedian and TV host (not Navarro) promoting a brand of grilled chicken but, not inexplicably, also featuring a South American model-actress.

A day after Navarro’s interview, the media reported that young Filipinos are getting “more sexually adventurous,” according to the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation, Inc.

Navarro’s endorsement of fidelity could not have been better timed. Perhaps in the collision between raging hormones, New Media, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and Aids, young people may pay more attention to the remorseful confessions of a reformed rake than to scientifically monitored social trends.

Being faithful to a partner who’s also faithful to you offers better health insurance than a condom. That’s the obvious fact eluding many raised in the strict code of machismo.

It’s the same code framing Navarro’s “illumination”. Navarro admitted that he sneaked again behind his girlfriend’s back to return to Cornejo’s place, expecting more after she had given him oral sex during a previous visit. He did get more than actual intercourse, according to his account: a mauling, threats to his life and his family, a videotaping intended for extortion.

Compare this with Navarro’s girlfriend, who, despite his unfaithfulness and public humiliation, “stands by her man”. In macho lingo, it’s Bad Woman versus Good Woman. Moral of the story: “Dapat maging faithful”.

Rather than close the story on this hopeful note for fidelity, I’m curious about Navarro’s girlfriend, the silent presence in the controversy. I first heard about codependency while covering the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group meeting at Redemptorist Parish in Cebu City. The late rector Fr. Paddy Martin told me that there were also other self-help groups with members addicted to drugs and sex, as well as for their codependents.

Today, the term no longer just applies to couples suffering from alcohol, drug or sex addiction. A codependent is in a relationship that she or he considers as more important than her- or himself.

According to, a person should examine the costs to oneself of maintaining the relationship. When one partner controls the relationship and the other does all the “fixing” to make the relationship work, the solution calls for more desperate measures than fidelity.

( 09173226131)

* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Feb. 9, 2014 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”

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