WHEN I met Cecille the first time, she blended in with her batch: smart, confident, promising.

I saw Cecille (Real name withheld.) in another light when she, along with two other coeds, was a news source for an article about one-night stands.

For fact-checking, the writer submitted the names of his anonymous sources. I couldn’t associate the articulate and witty Cecille with the person so confused by self-doubt she slept around because she thought nobody wanted more from her beyond that one night.

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I asked the writer to probe why Cecille sabotaged all her relationships by equating every male’s interest in her with sex.

The answer came from Cecille herself: she said all men had to be like her father, a philanderer, but she wasn’t going to be like her mom, who acted blind to his infidelities and always took him back after his “whoring.”

I remembered Cecille again when I read about the proposal that Rep. Pablo Garcia (Cebu Province, 2nd district) will file again. If Garcia’s bill is approved, persons getting a church annulment will have this automatically recognized by the civil courts.

According to the July 24, 2010 article by Sun.Star Cebu’s Justin K. Vestil, the bill promises less cost and inconvenience to couples who want to go their separate ways. At present, it requires time, money and lawyers to process the separate annulment one has to secure from the Church and the State to be finally and truly free to remarry.

This view was countered by a judicial vicar who handles annulment cases in the Metropolitan Matrimonial Tribunal, which evaluates if a petition for nullity is valid. According to the same article, Fr. Raul Go cautioned that if the bill becomes a law, this may be abused by some parties as an alternative to divorce.

Annulment cases may increase, he warned.

According to a Feb. 11, 2008 article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) found “alarming” the rise of petitions filed for annulment of marriage: 7,138 cases in 2006; 7,753 in 2008. Before 2006, the OSG noted that the number of annulment cases never exceeded 7,000.

The OSG attributed the trend to the relaxation of society’s attitude toward separated couples. On the other hand, the State urged the Church to help couples save their marriage because break-ups also scarred the innocent, the couple’s children.

The human desire for closure in relationships is far too complex to be grasped by institutions like religion and the State.

Cecille’s mother’s decision to keep their family intact was not without cost. Had her parents opted for separation or annulment, would this have nipped in Cecille the same weakness she hated in her mother?

In 2006, Sun.Star Cebu published a three-part special report entitled “Going Solo.” As a member of that special report team, I interviewed multiple sources who went through the familiar tale of love-marriage- disillusion-dissolution (or not quite).

All my sources were women through no deliberate intention of mine. All experienced a form or combination of different forms of abuse: physical, sexual, financial, emotional, psychological.

Those who pushed on successfully with their petitions to nullify their marriage said they wanted the annulment to signify an empty, clean slate with which to begin anew even if they did not have a new lover or were uncertain if they could sufficiently trust themselves to fall into another commitment again.

As a child of parents who mutually decided to separate, I can say there is no empty, clean slate. As lovers, parents, sons, daughters, friends, we humans are a messy lot.

The only consolation, if it is one, is that we have a hand in writing our lives.

(mayette.tabada@gmail.com/ mayettetabada.blogspot.com/ 0917-3226131)