Mistresses. Reviled and desired. Glamorized and demonized. Spent and spared. This is the Philippines: that religious country that doesn't allow divorce, but with a long tradition of queridas. After centuries of infidelity, we've heard the pathetic excuses of husbands and spurned wives in the querida-crazed genre of films such as 'The Mistress,' 'No Other Woman' and 'A Secret Affair.' But is it really all sports cars, jewellery and summer homes? We go deeper behind the glamour and the media-friendly imagery to seek out the truth. We talk to the real 'mistresses' of Manila. What motivates them? Why do they exist? And why do it? Join us for an intimate peek behind the scarlet curtain drawn across everyone's private life in this two-part series.
Today we sit down for a chat with Cynthia (not her real name) who has been a mistress for 26 years and counting.Tell us something about yourself.
I'm a mother of 2 and I love my children the most in the world. I'm currently a housewife and a businesswoman.
Tell us a weird quirk of yours.
I like washing my hands a lot and I collect hand sanitizers.
How did you start becoming involved with married men?
It all happened suddenly and unexpectedly. He was my boss in my former company. He was rich, charming and a smooth talker. You can say he was a bit of a flirt. He had a way with words, as if charming women were his job. He was always nice to his employees. I was attracted to him and maybe I flirted with him as well. The thrill of an affair especially in the office excited me and I saw my boss as a prize. We both gave in and started dating outside the office.
What type of men do you usually go out with?
I like men who are "malambing" or affectionate, smart, witty and someone who loves to laugh. It also doesn't hurt that he is a good provider.
Why married men?
I never really expected to end up with a married man. At the start of our relationship, I knew it was just the thrill but then, I got used to being pampered. You see, married men are very experienced when it comes to handling women. They are more forward with what they want and they are very decisive. I don't think anyone grew up wanting to be with a married man but it's different when you get older. Sometimes, when life brings you down and you're desperate, you want someone who is financially and emotionally stable for support. Most of the married men I've encountered were good providers but my partner was of course, the best out of all of them.
Tell us about your typical day as a mistress.
Hmmm... When we were just starting, we always had stolen moments. We'd meet after office hours and we'd stay in hotels far from our respective areas. Sometimes, during weekends, we would go to provinces, stay in hotels and resorts. No one had cellphones at that time so we were able to keep our privacy. Sometimes, he'd tell his wife he's on a business trip. I don't know all the excuses he was able to come up. There came a point when I stopped asking since it started hurting the more I know. Still, there was this urge to know everything about his family, his wife, their schedule, how he treats her etc. I've met his wife before but when our relationship started, I tried not to see her when she visited the office. Back then, when we went to the provinces, it was as if he was relieving his teenage years with me. He's a lot older you see. Everything changed when I got pregnant with our son. I told him, I wanted a house to raise our child and a family of my own. I told him to leave his wife but he could not. This will be too long if I tell everything but today, I have 2 children and so far, he still supports us every month. He gives all of us our allowances but I rarely see him now. I used to be a housewife, I still am, but now, I've started a business.
How would you describe your style in handling married men?
When he's tired, I comfort him. I try not to nag him as much as possible. When we see each other, I try to make him feel better and I try to remove all his worries. His wife is very controlling and always jealous. He doesn't like that, so I try not to be like her.
What's the best thing about being a mistress?
I really don't know. There will always be a nagging feeling that I'm just second and he's not mine. I don't know, but when we were younger, he really treated me like a queen. He gave me a lot of jewellry, designer bags, clothes and gifts. The biggest gift I received from him was our house and our car.
Who or what inspires you and why?
My children inspire me everyday. They are my life.
What kind of lover are you?
I am very good with what I do.
What were the challenging things or situations you faced during your relationships with married men?
Time management was a big issue for us when we were starting. Since he's a busier person, he had a difficult time giving me more attention. Of course there's the fear of being caught and the scandal it might have brought. Some of my closest friends know about us and I think some of our officemates suspected something. I also had a hard time when he moved to the States with his family. I really felt that he would run away from us and abandon our children. After 2 months without communication, he came back and reassured us that he would support us. Recently, the wife learned about our relationship so he's having a hard time sending us our allowances. That's when I thought of starting my business.
Did you feel guilty?
Yes, but there came a time when I thought I was the more deserving partner. But the guilt will stay with you forever. You'll get used to it.
Were you happy?
Seeing my children grow up well makes me happy.
How did you hide your relationship?
We were very careful. We never showed our relationship in the office even though there were times when we would sneak out. We would not leave the office together but would meet a jeepney ride away from the office. We had our special place and he'd pick me up from there, then we would go to another city to eat or proceed to a hotel if he's in a hurry. Sometimes, he'll leave me in the hotel to spend the night while he goes back home but sometimes he would stay. To hide our relationship, I've had several boyfriends in between the relationship with my partner, especially when he moved abroad. My boyfriends knew about him but he doesn't know about them. Sometimes, when I meet old acquaintances especially from our old company, I tell them my current boyfriend is the father of my children. I still can't tell them about my partner.
What was the best thing that ever happened to you as a mistress?
I was able to go to a lot of places, own beautiful expensive things, have my own house and I became more or less, financially stable.
What was the most memorable moment you have had as a mistress?
When our children were born.
Based from your experience, why do you think husbands cheat on their wives?
There could be a lot of reasons. Sometimes, the wife is very controlling, insecure and a nagger. Sometimes, the man was just forced to marry the girl because she got pregnant and he gave in to pressures from their families and society. Oftentimes, the wife stopped taking care of her appearance and herself so she became less presentable to his crowd. I'm not that sure. Sometimes, the husband just needed to find someone to have a more exciting sexual life. Rich men are more likely to cheat since they have the money and are capable of sustaining their other wives.
Describe the married men you've cheated with, both positive and negative aspects of them.
I've only had one married man and he's my current partner. He is very sweet, affectionate, generous and hardworking. My problem with him is his temper. He can get really angry and just burst under pressure. I also had a problem with him looking at other women. I think he has other girlfriends but I try not to think of it.
What can you say about married couples in the Philippines?
Some of them are based on lies and I know a lot of sad women who wanted to leave their husbands. A lot of husbands, on the other hand, usually cheat on their wives. I think divorce should be legal in this country. There are a lot of unhappy couples.
What message do you have for mistresses?
You are all old enough to know what you're doing. If you can still get away from the relationship, please do. It's not a road I would recommend.
What message do you have for wives who have been cheated or is being cheated on?
Leave him. Chances are, he'll never change no matter what he says. If you're unhappy and are capable of sustaining yourself, then do not prolong your suffering and just leave. Find someone who will love you wholeheartedly.
What message do you have for cheating husbands?
Treat women better. You are hurting everyone especially the children. Think of your actions and the consequences. You are ruining the lives of your loved ones. If you have fallen out of love or if you are miserable then leave the marriage instead of cheating on your wife. At least give her a chance to find true happiness.
-end of interview-
You can read the firs part of this series here:
On People: The Mistress Part 1
You can read the firs part of this series here:
On People: The Mistress Part 1
Listening to: The Butterfly Collector (Garbage Cover) by The Jam
Loving: winter clothes
=(: cancelled TOEFL exam