Sunday, December 25, 2005


May this holiday season be the best yet
for you and those you love.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Law of sowing and reaping

“A man reaps what he sows”. (St. Paul, Galatians 6:7)

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Jesus, Matthew 7:1)

“Do not do to others what you would not like yourself.” (Confucius)

“Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith. Every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same.” (Philippine Civil Code, Article 19 and 20)

These are different ways of expressing The Golden Rule. It is also called Law of the Harvest or Law of the Farm, and is one of the most important natural laws in the world.

Like the law of gravity, which no one on earth can avoid, the law of sowing and reaping governs everything we do or say even we do not believe it. A man can claim he doesn’t believe in the law of gravity but if he jumps off a ten-story window, his belief cannot save him. The same goes true with the law of sowing and reaping.

In fact, basic human laws follow this principle. A person who does wrong must be punished, while one who is hurt must be protected. We therefore have the law called lex talionis - "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, an arm for an arm, a life for a life” as found in Hebrew scripture My civil law professor, the late Haydee Yorac, used to tell us that “good faith is always rewarded and bad faith is always punished”..

With or without human laws, the law of sowing and reaping affects our lives, and there are three important things I would like to share about this.

One, the seed and the harvest are of the same kind. We all know that papaya seeds will bear papaya trees and fruits. Bringing this to our actions, if we shout at someone, he will instinctively respond to us the same way. Or someone who exploits people will, in one way or another, be exploited by others. A person who sows kindness reaps kindness. A bad decision will have bad consequences. And so on.

Two, after sometime, the harvest will be bigger than the seed. The seed is tiny but grows into a plant that is much, much bigger. If we plant good deeds, after sometime, we will harvest good results.

I recall my younger brother when he was new in his job. He worked as a medical representative, visiting doctors and hospitals to introduce the line of medicines assigned to him. He used to wake up at 5 a.m. every working day, prepare quietly for the day without any word of complaint, take the bus to work carrying two huge bags of medicine samples. He told me that he had no office space, but just found time to rest in between calls whenever he sits down waiting for the doctor. Because he was consistent and diligent in his work, he was promoted through the years and is now training manager of younger medical representatives in the same company, with all the benefits that come with the position.

If we go through bad times, it would be good to look at any past action we have done that could have been the seed for this. It is easy for people to blame God when they suffer bad experiences, but someone has wisely said: “Don’t make bad decisions and blame God for the consequences.” We have all made bad decisions at one time or another, and have experienced its effects. As we go through the harvest time, we can start planting good seed because after a while we will surely reap good results. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9)

Three, harvest is unavoidable. I think this is a very important principle. Nature gives us clear illustrations of how things work. I used to live in a subdivision in Cainta, Rizal – a very beautiful, quiet and green area when I was young. After 15 years or so, it became difficult to live there not only because of heavy traffic but also because of the floods that reached more than waist high and stranded all vehicles during the rainy season. The floods resulted from uncontrolled destruction of the forests in Antipolo, among others.

Given these three points about sowing and reaping, it is easy to be pessimistic about the future. But there is another way of looking at things, especially now that we are beginning a new year. Let’s take this as a starting point for planting good seed, so we can look forward to a good harvest later on.

May 2006 be the best year yet for you and your loved ones! Happy New Year!

(Published in THE SUN newspaper Hong Kong, January 2006)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Safety Tips for Women

This was forwarded to me by Ping G., and it's worth sharing:

We can now add to the list of victims the retired 77 yr. old TCU professor from Ft Worth whose body was found in Oklahoma --- and the 11 yr. old in Sarasota, FL. Because of these recent abductions in daylight hours, refresh yourself of these things to do in an emergency situation.

This is for you, and for you to share with your wife, your children, everyone you know.After reading these 9 crucial tips, forward them to someone you care about. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide in New Orleans. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you....chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. (DON'T DO THIS!) The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

5. If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

6. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

a) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat.

b) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

c) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

7. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)

8. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, Preferably ! in a zig-zag pattern!

9. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP. It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

10.Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her "Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, "We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night. Please pass this on and DO NOT open the door for a crying baby.

This e-mail should probably be taken seriously because the Crying Baby theory was mentioned on America's Most Wanted this past Saturday when they profiled the serial killer in Louisiana. I'd like you to forward this to all the women you know. It may save a life. A candle is not dimmed by lighting another candle. I was going to send this to the ladies only, but guys, if you love your mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, etc., you may want to pass it onto them, as well. Send this to any woman you know that may need to be reminded that the world we live in has a lot of crazies in it and it's better to be safe than sorry.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You may walk, run or crawl, but no matter what happens, keep on going

"The Christian walk becomes an uphill climb, the longer we are in the race. There are times when we run. Sometimes, we walk. When we get weary, we even crawl. That's all right, for no matter what happens, what's important is that we keep on going." This message, which I heard many Sundays ago in church, keeps coming back to me.

Sometimes I go up the mountain trail in Mui Wo, Lantau where I live.

I usually do what some hikers do --- walk fast for a bit, then stop to rest, and go on again. It was more difficult to start again after making a full stop, and there was even the tendency to slide back when the trail became steep.

But last Saturday morning, I decided to keep on going. On steep incline, I went slowly, even if I had to go little steps to maintain my breath. When I got tired, I looked at the top of the mountain - my goal - and went on and on and on. What victory there was in reaching my goal.

This has led me to reflect on my own human frailty. I have seen Christian leaders fall at a point when many think they have become stable in their walk. I believe no one is stable in one's walk, and we can only cling to the grace of Jesus day by day. The Christian life is not about counting points, or having merits or demerits. I believe it is all about the grace of God, and our appreciation of that. Grace means undeserved mercy, underserved gifts. Even each heartbeat, or each breath of life, is only because of the grace of God, not because of anything we have done.

And so I pray that my experience going to the top during that hike last Saturday morning will serve to remind me - in times of rough sailing - that there is a goal to aim for, and that is eternal life. And I pray that by God's grace, I could cling to Him until He takes me home.

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

QUOTES

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke, British statesman and philosopher (1729-1797)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Are you undergoing serious tests of faith and faithfulness?

Dear Friends,

Sometimes we go through serious tests of our faith in God and faithfulness in our commitments and relationships. A pastor said that the longer we go in our walk with God, the more cautious and prayerful we need to be, because the climb gets more difficult. There are times when we need RADICAL PRAYER to conquer severe tests. Prayer is radical when we believe that God can intervene and change things dramatically. Prayer is necessary when it is all we can do, when we cannot even rely on our own strength to conquer our emotions. God is good and gracious. He will take us through if we keep our eyes on Him.

"Do you not see that in a running competition all take part, but only one gets the reward? So let your minds be fixed on the reward. And every man who takes part in the sports has self-control in all things. Now they do it to get a crown which is of this world, but we for an eternal crown." (1 Corinthians 9:24)

Blessings,
Chato Olivas-Gallo

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Practical new year's resolutions for 2006

Days move so fast, especially here in Hong Kong when work consumes a lot of our time. The year is almost over and as always, it is a good time to review the good things that have happened, and make plans for the year ahead.

For those of you who are thinking of making new years’ resolutions, I have some suggestions on legal and related matters. Take a look at my list, and choose which ones you could work on this coming 2006.

1. Put together all important basic documents in a safe place –

· Birth certificates – yours, your spouse’s and children’s
· Marriage certificate
· Tax declarations over your lots together with official receipts
· Copies of your land titles
· Photocopies of your passport and other identification documents
· Diplomas and school certificates
· Transcripts of records
· Insurance policies
· Medical and dental records
· OWWA receipts
· SSS documents
· Photocopies of ATM cards, passbooks, time deposit slips and the like
· Employment contracts
· NBI clearances
· Files of legal cases, if any
· Certificates of registration of vehicles, vehicle insurance, official receipts of registration and other related documents

I advise you to buy clear books and file the documents together per category. Make a few photocopies and insert these in the same plastic sheet so that you don’t have to rush whenever these are needed. It is also good if you could secure a safety deposit box for the really important documents.

2. Get life insurance / pension plans

There are many different life insurance and pension plans available today. Before agreeing to the first insurance agent that comes along, study these different plans. Think carefully about the amount of premium that you are to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly. Discuss this with your insurance agent, making sure that she is not only after the commission that she will get out of this transaction, but that she considers your ability to pay the premium faithfully. Make room for unexpected expenses when you think of the amount you would like to set aside for premium. It is better to pay a small amount continuously, than to pay a big amount for a while and then let the policy lapse. Although you could reinstate the policy if you fail to pay for a while, do not take the risk of agreeing to a high premium if you are not sure you can keep it up. Be in control of your money from the start. When you take out a policy, do not allow yourself to be swayed by your insurance agent no matter how persuasive he or she may be. It should be your own free and voluntary decision. Remember, no matter what the agent says, it is your money that is involved.

3. Get a memorial plan

It is a very practical thing to consider getting a memorial plan. This will relive our loved ones of the burden of thinking of what to do when we pass away. Choose a plan that you can easily afford.

4. Make a last will and testament

This is also one of the most important documents you can prepare, and helps a lot in avoiding disputes among heirs. It not only allows you to list down which of your properties are to be given to which heir, but also permits you to write various last wishes. Consult a lawyer on how to divide properties, because if the will contradicts legal provisions on succession (passing on of properties), the will may be invalid.

In these, it’s good to be guided by God’s Word which says: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Happy holidays!

Persecuted Christians in Asia

Can you imagine being in a place where Christianity is considered a crime, where you cannot openly sing praise and worship songs to the Lord, and where you need to hide just to read the Bible?

This is difficult for most Filipinos to imagine, because the Philippines is known to be a Christian nation. More than 90% are Roman Catholics, 3% are Evangelicals and 4.5% are other Christians.

Let me just take you through a few countries were Christians go through extremely difficult experiences – these are North Korea, Burma, Laos and Vietnam.

NORTH KOREA

Christianity is a crime in North Korea. The term for God cannot be mentioned. It is banned. Those discovered to be Christians are imprisoned. While in prison, they are not allowed to look up, because they believe in the God who is in heaven.

As a result, imprisoned Christians have looked downwards for so long that their necks are locked into a 90-degree angle. And when they die, their necks are broken and they are buried face down so that even then, they cannot look up to heaven.

These findings are based on testimonies gathered by our organization, Christian Solidarity Worldwide UK.

A woman named Soon Uk Lee, unjustly imprisoned in NK for six years, wrote a book entitled "Eyes of the Tailless Animals" describing her harrowing experiences inside a prison camp. Her book talks about people as "tailless animas", for that is how people in NK's prison camps are regarded. They are no more than animals, having no rights and dignity whatsoever.

Soon Uk Lee shared her observations about Christians in prison. She described them as having such an unexplainable peace and firm spirit, and this made her ask - why are they like that ... why would they rather die than renounce what they believe?

She saw how prison guards tortured Christians, with promises of immediate freedom if they renounce Christ. Prison guards were assured of promotions and rewards if they are able to make a Christian renounce his faith.

She thought, it is so easy for these people to gain freedom; all they had to do was turn their back on what they believe, but they don't do it. Why, she asked. What do they believe?

She saw eight Christians who were forced to kneel down and were told that melted iron will be poured upon them if they don't renounce Christ.

These Christians silently knelt down, heads bowed, while melted iron was poured upon them one by one, until they died.

These images of steadfast faith remained in Soon Uk Lee's heart. When she was released from prison, she gave her life to Christ, changed by the living testimonies of these heroes of faith whom she met in prison.


HEROES OF FAITH

There are many heroes of faith today. Hebrews 11 is the chapter of faith, and it is said that people named in this chapter belong to the "Hall of Faith".

In Hebrews 11:36-38, we read of people who faced "trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, moreover of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder … were slain with the sword."

Today, this is still happening in restricted nations such as Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Nepal, lndia, lndonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China and many other countries. There are billions of spiritually impoverished souls in these nations. And there are also thousands of Christians in these places who are engaged in frontline face-to-face battle for the salvation of lost souls.

BURMA

Sometime in September, I went to the Indo-Burma border and interviewed some Christians from Burma.

They told me how the Burma army persecutes Christians by denying them the freedom to worship God. They are not given any permit to worship, or to build worship for Christians. If they convert to Buddhism, they are rewarded with sacks of rice, and better economic privileges. They are threatened and arrested for preaching the gospel. I interviewed a pastor who was arrested and locked up seven times for preaching the gospel, yet he persisted, because it is his calling.

They told me about the extreme poverty within Burma, where boys and girls, as young as eight, are forced to work so that they could have two meals a day. For most people, there is no chance to earn more than this.

They also refer to the fear psychology inflicted upon them by the army. They say such fear is so deeply-rooted wherever they go because for years, they have been living under the high-handed rule of the army.
LAOS

Let us focus for a while on Laos, a communist state. All Christian activities are highly regulated in this state, and Theravada Buddhism is considered the official state religion. The Laos government is highly suspicious of the Christian faith because it is seen as an instrument of western imperialism. For this reason, Christians are considered enemies of the state, and local authorities have taken drastic measures to eliminate Christianity.

In the mid-70’s, persecution was exceptionally harsh. All Bible schools were closed, and 90% of trained church leaders were forced to leave the country. Between 1999 to 2001, there was a campaign to force Christians to renounce their faith, otherwise, they will be expelled from their homes and villages. They were forced to sign documents of renunciation, admitting that they were deceived by propaganda.

In recent years, believers have continued to suffer discrimination, illegal arrest, imprisonment and threats. Public evangelism is restricted, Bibles and Christian reading materials cannot be brought into the country, and foreign missionaries who import these materials are arrested and/or deported. Yet, there is a shining light in all these. There are now around 50,000 Christians in Laos, based on reports we received.


VIETNAM

We also have the Christians in Vietnam. One of these is Reverend Nguyen Hong Quang, pastor of the Vietnam Mennonite Church. He was arrested last year on charges of resisting authorities, and sentenced to three years in prison. While in prison, government authorities demolished their church and part of their apartment. He was also forced to sign a document renouncing his faith, but he refused. Because of lobbying by our organization and others, he was released during Vietnam’s national day amnesty on 30th August this year.

Another Christian in Vietnam, Rev. Than Van Truong, was declared insane only for the reason that he is a Christian. He was a member of the Communist Party, fought in the Vietnam war and developed war-related disabilities. When he became a Christian, he sent Bibles to top Communist Party leaders, challenging them to become Christians. Many groups campaigned for his release, and on September 17, he was set free.

These are only a few of our present-day heroes who have so valiantly taken a stand for Christ.

In their book, “By the Blood,” James and Marti Heften report that more people have been tortured for Christ in the 20th century than all previous 19 centuries combined. According to World Evangelical Fellowship (Religious Liberty Commission), some 100 million people were martyred for their faith in the 20th century.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO US?

So what does this mean to you? What does this mean to us here in Hong Kong who live in relative freedom to worship God?

Romans 12:5 says, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone, members one of another.”

1 Corinthians 12:20, 26 says, “But now are they many members, yet but one body … and whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”

We belong to one body, the Body of Christ. Jesus is our head, the master of our lives. We are His hands and feet, and we are called to do His work here on earth. That is our ministry.

One essential part of that ministry is our calling to serve the suffering church – those who are persecuted because of their faith. Galatians 6:9-10 says “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith”.

How do we do good to the suffering church?

By prayer, by advocacy and by humanitarian aid. That is the way we in Christian Solidarity Worldwide HK serve Christians in places of persecution. We are here for the suffering church, for those who are voiceless, and we invite you to join with us in this ministry. If you want to be involved, send me an email at chato@csw.org.hk.

Abogadong mura?

“Attorney, may mabibigay ka ba sa akin na abogadong mura?” Ilan na ang nagtanong nito sa akin dito sa Hong Kong.

Sasagutin ko ito sa pamamagitan ng mga tanong: “Kung mayroong cancer ang mahal mo sa buhay, at gusto mo siyang gumaling, hahanap ka ba ang doctor na mura, o doctor na mahusay?” “Kung mayroon naman siyang flu, hahanap ka ba ng doctor na mura, o doctor na mahusay?” Hindi ibig sabihin na kung mura ang singil ay hindi mahusay. Ang ibig ko sabihin ay – mas mahalaga ang kakayahan niya bilang doctor kaysa kung magkano ang sisingilin niya sa iyo.

Kung naghahanap ka ng abogado, ang pinaka-importanteng consideration ay ito: ano ba ang gusto mong ipagawa sa kanya? Gaano ba kabigat ang problema mo?

Halimbawa, meron kang inaasahang pera mula sa insurance ng iyong yumaong ama at gusto mong i-authorize ang kaibigan mo na kuhanin ang pera at i-deposit sa bank account mo. Humihingi ang insurance company ng special power of attorney (SPA), isang simpleng authorization document. Kailangan mo ng notaryo. Maraming pwedeng mag-notaryo ng SPA sa Pilipinas, basta rehistrado sila sa korte bilang notary public. Sa abroad naman tulad ng HK, ang consul ang taga-notaryo ng ganitong dokumento, at hindi kailangang abogado sila. Ang importante ay ang tatak at pirma ng notaryo o consul na nagpapahiwatig na humarap ka sa kanya at pinatunayan mo na ikaw nga ang pumirma sa dokumento ng kusang loob. Walang problem-solving na involved sa ganitong klaseng sitwasyon.

Kung ang problema mo naman ay mabigat, tulad ng child custody, bigamy, legal separation, annulment o iba pang madalas na ilapit sa akin ng mga kababayan natin nito sa HK, maghanap ka ng abogadong may experience sa ganitong mga issue. Sa Pilipinas, maraming abogado ang tinatawag na general practitioner. Sila ay humahawak ng iba’t-ibang klase ng kaso. Meron ding mga specialists o experts na nagko-concentrate sa piling klase ng kaso. Natural, kung mas marami silang experience, lalo na kung espesyalista sila, mas mataas ang professional fee nila.

Meron din namang mga abogadong experts na nagbibigay ng free legal aid para sa mga taong gusto nilang tulungan. Hindi sila naniningil ng kahit anong professional fee. Gusto nilang hawakan ang kaso dahil sa personal commitment, tulad ng mga ilang human rights lawyer na nakasama ko sa Pilipinas.

Sana ay makatulong ito sa inyo. God bless you!

(First published in THE SUN newspaper in HK, October 2005)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Legal separation

Do you want information about legal separation under Philippine law? Below are the provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines on this subject:



Art. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on any of the following grounds:

(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner;

(2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;

(3) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner, to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such corruption or inducement;

(4) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to imprisonment of more than six years, even if pardoned;

(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the respondent;

(6) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;

(7) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent bigamous marriage, whether in the Philippines or abroad;

(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion;

(9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the petitioner; or

(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

For purposes of this Article, the term "child" shall include a child by nature or by adoption. (9a)

Art. 56. The petition for legal separation shall be denied on any of the following grounds:

(1) Where the aggrieved party has condoned the offense or act complained of;

(2) Where the aggrieved party has consented to the commission of the offense or act complained of;

(3) Where there is connivance between the parties in the commission of the offense or act constituting the ground for legal separation;

(4) Where both parties have given ground for legal separation;

(5) Where there is collusion between the parties to obtain decree of legal separation; or

(6) Where the action is barred by prescription. (100a)

Art. 57. An action for legal separation shall be filed within five years from the time of the occurrence of the cause. (102)

Art. 58. An action for legal separation shall in no case be tried before six months shall have elapsed since the filing of the petition. (103)

Art. 59. No legal separation may be decreed unless the Court has taken steps toward the reconciliation of the spouses and is fully satisfied, despite such efforts, that reconciliation is highly improbable. (n)

Art. 60. No decree of legal separation shall be based upon a stipulation of facts or a confession of judgment.

In any case, the Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal assigned to it to take steps to prevent collusion between the parties and to take care that the evidence is not fabricated or suppressed. (101a)

Art. 61. After the filing of the petition for legal separation, the spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other.

The court, in the absence of a written agreement between the spouses, shall designate either of them or a third person to administer the absolute community or conjugal partnership property. The administrator appointed by the court shall have the same powers and duties as those of a guardian under the Rules of Court. (104a)

Art. 62. During the pendency of the action for legal separation, the provisions of Article 49 shall likewise apply to the support of the spouses and the custody and support of the common children. (105a)

Art. 63. The decree of legal separation shall have the following effects:

(1) The spouses shall be entitled to live separately from each other, but the marriage bonds shall not be severed;

(2) The absolute community or the conjugal partnership shall be dissolved and liquidated but the offending spouse shall have no right to any share of the net profits earned by the absolute community or the conjugal partnership, which shall be forfeited in accordance with the provisions of Article 43(2);

(3) The custody of the minor children shall be awarded to the innocent spouse, subject to the provisions of Article 213 of this Code; and

(4) The offending spouse shall be disqualified from inheriting from the innocent spouse by intestate succession. Moreover, provisions in favor of the offending spouse made in the will of the innocent spouse shall be revoked by operation of law. (106a)

Art. 64. After the finality of the decree of legal separation, the innocent spouse may revoke the donations made by him or by her in favor of the offending spouse, as well as the designation of the latter as beneficiary in any insurance policy, even if such designation be stipulated as irrevocable. The revocation of the donations shall be recorded in the registries of property in the places where the properties are located. Alienations, liens and encumbrances registered in good faith before the recording of the complaint for revocation in the registries of property shall be respected. The revocation of or change in the designation of the insurance beneficiary shall take effect upon written notification thereof to the insured.
The action to revoke the donation under this Article must be brought within five years from the time the decree of legal separation become final. (107a)

Art. 65. If the spouses should reconcile, a corresponding joint manifestation under oath duly signed by them shall be filed with the court in the same proceeding for legal separation. (n)

Art. 66. The reconciliation referred to in the preceding Articles shall have the following consequences:

(1) The legal separation proceedings, if still pending, shall thereby be terminated at whatever stage; and

(2) The final decree of legal separation shall be set aside, but the separation of property and any forfeiture of the share of the guilty spouse already effected shall subsist, unless the spouses agree to revive their former property regime.

The court's order containing the foregoing shall be recorded in the proper civil registries. (108a)

Art. 67. The agreement to revive the former property regime referred to in the preceding Article shall be executed under oath and shall specify:

(1) The properties to be contributed anew to the restored regime;

(2) Those to be retained as separated properties of each spouse; and

(3) The names of all their known creditors, their addresses and the amounts owing to each.

The agreement of revival and the motion for its approval shall be filed with the court in the same proceeding for legal separation, with copies of both furnished to the creditors named therein. After due hearing, the court shall, in its order, take measure to protect the interest of creditors and such order shall be recorded in the proper registries of properties.

The recording of the ordering in the registries of property shall not prejudice any creditor not listed or not notified, unless the debtor-spouse has sufficient separate properties to satisfy the creditor's claim. (195a, 108a)

Annulment of marriage

Many have been asking me for the grounds for annulment of marriage under Philippine Law. Here are the grounds for annulment, and time for filing annulment actions, quoted verbatim from relevant provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines:

"Art. 45. A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at the time of the marriage:

(1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was eighteen years of age or over but below twenty-one, and the marriage was solemnized without the consent of the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over the party, in that order, unless after attaining the age of twenty-one, such party freely cohabited with the other and both lived together as husband and wife;

(2) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(3) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(4) That the consent of either party was obtained by force, intimidation or undue influence, unless the same having disappeared or ceased, such party thereafter freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife;

(5) That either party was physically incapable of consummating the marriage with the other, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or

(6) That either party was afflicted with a sexually-transmissible disease found to be serious and appears to be incurable. (85a)

Art. 46. Any of the following circumstances shall constitute fraud referred to in Number 3 of the preceding Article:

(1) Non-disclosure of a previous conviction by final judgment of the other party of a crime involving moral turpitude;

(2) Concealment by the wife of the fact that at the time of the marriage, she was pregnant by a man other than her husband;

(3) Concealment of sexually transmissible disease, regardless of its nature, existing at the time of the marriage; or

(4) Concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism or homosexuality or lesbianism existing at the time of the marriage.
No other misrepresentation or deceit as to character, health, rank, fortune or chastity shall constitute such fraud as will give grounds for action for the annulment of marriage. (86a)

Art. 47. The action for annulment of marriage must be filed by the following persons and within the periods indicated herein:

(1) For causes mentioned in number 1 of Article 45 by the party whose parent or guardian did not give his or her consent, within five years after attaining the age of twenty-one, or by the parent or guardian or person having legal charge of the minor, at any time before such party has reached the age of twenty-one;

(2) For causes mentioned in number 2 of Article 45, by the same spouse, who had no knowledge of the other's insanity; or by any relative or guardian or person having legal charge of the insane, at any time before the death of either party, or by the insane spouse during a lucid interval or after regaining sanity;

(3) For causes mentioned in number 3 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years after the discovery of the fraud;

(4) For causes mentioned in number 4 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years from the time the force, intimidation or undue influence disappeared or ceased;

(5) For causes mentioned in number 5 and 6 of Article 45, by the injured party, within five years after the marriage. (87a)"

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Prayer for justice

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you will live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people so that you will work for justice, equality and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and change their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.

Author Unknown

Monday, April 25, 2005

Child abuse or child discipline?

"My husband had an electric wire at home, about three feet long. He used it like a whip whenever he wanted to discipline our children," said Cory, who came to my office for legal consultation. "When my son was in the first grade, my husband disciplined him by having him stay inside a drum for a half day," she added.

"My father told me when I was a child that my voice was ugly. Each time I sang, he made me shut up," narrated Maria, 24 years old. She has been singing with a band for four years already, and her voice was exceptionally good. But until now, when she recalled how her father put her down as a child, she still felt the pain of his words.


It is easy for us to say that the acts committed by Cory's husband are abusive. However, in Maria's situation, we would usually brush it aside as something that she should have outgrown. Yet, the fact that the emotional pain has stayed with her shows that she is likewise a victim of emotional abuse.

How then do we distinguish between child abuse and child discipline? Here are some guidelines.

(1) DOES IT CAUSE HUMILIATION?

A child is entitled to the same dignity as an adult. Yet some people treat children as though they have lesser rights to human dignity. According to the Philippine law against child abuse (Republic Act No. 7610), abuse includes "Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child as a human being." This is consistent with the international definition of child abuse.

When a child is humiliated publicly, it is abusive. True discipline is conducted in private, with a positive purpose and goal. According to the Los Angeles Country's Frequently asked questions about child abuse, "Discipline is designed to help children control and change their behavior. Its purpose is to encourage moral, physical and intellectual development and a sense of responsibility in children. Ultimately, older children will do the right thing, not because they fear external reprisal, but because they have internalized a standard initially presented by parents and other caretakers, and children gain self-confidence and a positive self-image."

(2) IS IT RELATED TO THE CHILD'S WRONG BEHAVIOR?

In law, there is fairness, or due process, when the penalty is commensurate to the offense. The same holds true for child discipline.

There is abuse when the punishment is out of proportion to the offense. For instance, if a child spends hours on the telephone without doing his assignment first, an appropriate penalty would be to regulate the use of the phone. It would be abusive for example to lock him up in the toilet as a punishment because this has no relation at all to the wrong-doing.

(3) IS IT IMPULSIVE AND ANGER-DRIVEN?

Discipline should be well-thought out and planned, and not the result of impulse.

Child abuse is impulsive because it is centered on the parent, not the child. It is anger-driven because the parent has not done anything, in the early stages of misbehavior, to correct it. He has waited for the wrong behavior to continue until he is too angry to rationally prevent it, and that is when he takes it out on the child.

(4) DOES IT PRODUCE PHYSICAL INJURY?

Discipline is purposeful and therefore should not produce physical injury. On the other hand, child abuse produces physical injury.

Under Philippine law, when injury is inflicted on someone, it is a crime. Injury that heals in nine days or less is considered slight physical injury, and is punishable. Surely, there are similar laws in other countries.

Consider this: if it is a crime to inflict injury on a person who is not related to you, then it is abusive to inflict physical injury upon a child even in the course of discipline.

[First published in THE SUN – Hong Kong, 2003]

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