Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,400 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Uncategorized



It’s not good to let anyone get too close

“If you have a secret, people will sit a little bit closer.” ROB CORDDRY

By Alex P. Vidal

Trust remains to be the most important aspect of any meaningful relationship.
“More specifically, it is a mutual condition that must exist between a manager and his subordinates, a husband and wife, and between friends,” wrote Dr. Jan Halper, author of Quite Desperation.
Halper warned that a husband who doesn’t trust his wife to listen and be supportive will not disclose his personal thoughts and feelings. If he doesn’t trust her judgment, he will not confide in her, Halper observed.
“As a result, they will grow apart. A manager who doesn’t trust his subordination will not delegate responsibility or authority. Instead he will resort to controlling them,” Halper stressed. “When employees don’t feel trusted they are likely to become territorial, derisive, and antagonistically competitive.”


In his book Man’s Search for Himself, Rollo May discussed the destructive aspects of this attitude:
–this type of individual competitiveness–in which for you to fail in a deal is as good as for me to succeed, since it pushes me ahead in the scramble up the ladder–raises many psychological problems. It makes every man interpersonal hostility and resentment, and increases greatly our anxiety and isolation from each other.
Raised with a competitive spirit, where winning is more important than caring, competition more important than friendship, men search for their opponents’ vulnerable points to be used as ammunition in the future, explained Halper.
Halper cited the case of investment banker Anthony Rich, who told him, “I store confidences away to be used at a later date, if it’s to my advantage. Any bit of knowledge is fair game to be used against your perceived enemy in order to declare a victory.” Although Rich did not admit it, Halper said the implication was there: “It’s okay to betray someone you treat as a friend if it means winning or losing.”


Consequently, this intense competitiveness and desire to win breed fear and distrust between men, according to Halper.
Halper said in general, men are discouraged from “opening their kimono” with one another. They are told to never count on anyone but themselves. Halper found that when he encouraged men to talk with one another about their haunting conflicts and issues, that which was troubling them suddenly seemed less important or disappeared.
“They unburdened themselves of feeling vulnerable by exposing their private side and finding someone who understood them,” he pointed out. “Most often the men I interviewed were shocked at how a simple step could alleviate their loneliness and pain and provide clarity and insight.”
Although there is some truth to the assertion that men distrust others because they themselves can’t be trusted, another important factor comes into play, Harped said.


“Men don’t believe thay are in control of their feelings, that they choose to feel as they do. Instead they think feelings are something that come over them, that they are made to feel as they do by a mysterious external force,” explained Halper. “They attribute the power and ability to others, believing someone else made them feel fear, hurt, happiness, or anger.”
Men fear getting close to anyone, women or men, because it’s another way they might put themselves on the line, becoming vulnerable, asserted Halper.
“Countless men told me they longed to be close to others, but if it meant feeling out of control, they didn’t want anything to do with intimacy,” he noted.


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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Effects of male menopause

“The masculine energy was about survival. The male was the hunter who risked his life and had to be in the fight-flight mode.”


By Alex P. Vidal16265768_10208183164239698_2290510430437645716_n

“Is there such thing as male menopause, sir?” asked Lovelyn, mass communication student at Iloilo St. Paul University, inside the editorial room of Sun.Star, a daily newspaper I once edited.
“Female menopause yes, but male menopause I haven’t heard of that,” I honestly replied to Lovelyn. “Since I am a newsman and not a doctor, we might as well consult the experts on the subject matter: the doctors themselves.”
Days later, I found an article that could help provide the answer to Lovelyn’s question: Dr. Tito Garrido’s article about male menopause.
Garrido admitted that most Filipino males would not admit they also have menopause. The mere mention of the very idea that men experience a form of menopausal change will still draw amusement and laughter, he said.


“But this concept has been around as early as 1950s and it has recently enjoyed more attention and credibility,” Garrido explained in his column “At Your Service” at the The Philippine Post dated July 14, 1999.
Garrido defined male menopause as “a crisis of confidence identified in the middle aged men, comparable with menopause in women, but thought to be caused by psychological factors such as fear of aging.”
The doctor explained further: “Undoubtedly, a part of the controversy as to whether there is indeed such a thing, stems from the misleading use of the term menopause. Derived from the Greek word ‘menses,’ it refers to the cessation of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. ‘Andropause,’ which relies on the Greek work for a man, Andro, is the most commonly accepted term, defined as the natural cessation of the sexual function of older men.”
Garrido explained that some authors see it more broadly as “a biological an biochemical condition that has psychological, physical and emotional components.” Viropause/andropause is a naturally occurring psychological state that occurs in men’s middle years, producing feeling of unhappiness and undermining men’s sense of self worth, identity, and competence, stressed Garrido.


The doctor said endocrinologists have pointed out that in men, there is nothing as traumatic as in the case of women–there is no one period, no striking change to indicate a drop in hormonal levels. However, research indicates that men to experience this phenomenon, gradually producing less and less of the male sex hormone, testosterone, as they age. In most cases, this progressive decline occurs from age 20 to 80 years.


These various hormonally-induced physical and behavioral changes is now generally perceived to be the underpinning of this male menopause, or andropause, he explained.
“But this is only part of the equation,” Garrido wrote, “for there are also profound emotional aspects as well. It is at this transitional stage of life that a psychological stock-taking, often triggered by biological changes, usually occurs. The reflection on one’s life can also be triggered by other physical factors such as an illness like high blood pressure or heart attack, receding hairline, greying hair, or some forms of sexual dysfunction.”


He further stressed: “Other less tangible precipitating factors can include retirement or financial stress, or becoming a grandfather for instance. This process can then lead to stress and unhappiness, or what is more commonly referred at as a mid-life crisis.” If a man discovers that he can’t attain his goals and then discovers that his body isn’t as reliable and as strong as it used to be, the effects of male menopause are compounded.”
He warned that most men do indeed manage this transition well, but for those that do not, they often start experimenting with life, making major life-altering changes. “This is where the classic stereotype of the middle-aged man dumping his wife in favor of his twentysomething secretary comes into play,” Garrido emphasized. “It is a phenomenon that is described in psychological terms as ‘fusion with younger body’ in a futile effort to regain his lost youth.”


In severe cases in which a man experiences abnormally low testosterone levels, hormone replacement therapy maybe the answer, but many medical practitioners see this only as a last resort, Garrido observed.
“In some cases, simply minimizing psychological and physical stress, reducing alcohol intake and stopping smoking for instance, may help,” he suggested. “In short, attending to the needs of the physical body is healthy, the others aspects fall into line.”
On the psychological side, acceptance of aging is crucial–adopt the attitude that you’re not getting older, you’re getting better, he volunteered. “Value your wisdom over physical prowess and re-evaluate your goals and what you already have and try and bring them closer together,” Garrido asserted. “And most of all, accept that the dreams of your youth were probably unrealistic, rework these dreams so that they may continue to inspire you, but in a more realistic context.”
Garrido warned: “Andropause does not take place in a vacuum. While the male is coping with these changes, the spouse is undergoing even more dramatic changes with her own menopause. The good doctor says that if both partners do not realize what is happening and make adjustments to life and thought, the crisis of middle age need not be that much of a crisis.”

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Posted by on December 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Spirit vs Ego: The dialogue

“The greatest human quest is to know what one must do in order to become a human being.” IMMANUEL KANT

By Alex P. Vidal29572442_10211417967587760_356020253209754251_n

In one of the best metaphors, a dialogue between Ego and Spirit, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, has a very interesting story to share in his book, Your Sacred Self.
Dyer, author or Real Magic and Your Erroneous Zones, described Ego and Spirit in his story as two babies in utero confined to the wall of their mother’s womb, and they are having a conversation.
Spirit says to Ego, “I know you are going to find this difficult to accept, but I truly believe there is life after birth.”
Ego responds, “Don’t be ridiculous. Look around you. This is all there is. Why must you always be thinking about something beyond this reality? Accept your lot in life. Make yourself comfortable and forget about all of this life-after-birth nonsense.”
Spirit quiets down for a while, but her inner voice won’t allow her to remain silent any longer. “Ego, now don’t get mad, but I have something else to say. I also believe that there is a Mother.”


“A Mother!” Ego guffaws. “How can you be so absurd?” You’ve never seen a Mother. Why can’t you accept that this is all there is?” The idea of a Mother is crazy. You are here alone with me. This is your reality. Now grab hold of that cord. Go into your corner and stop being so silly. Trust me, there is no Mother.”
Spirit reluctantly stops her conversation with Ego, but her carelessness soon gets the better of her. “Ego,” she implores, “please listen without rejecting my idea. Somehow I think that those constant pressures we both feel, those movements that make us so uncomfortable sometimes, that continual repositioning and all of that closing in that seems to be taking place as we keep growing, is getting us ready for a place of glowing light, and we will experience it very soon.”
“Now I know you are absolutely insane,” replies Ego. “All you’ve ever known is darkness. You’ve never seen light. How can you even contemplate such an idea?” Those movements and pressures you feel are your reality. You are a distinct separate being.This is your journey. Darkness and pressures and a closed-in feeling are what life is all about. You’ll have to fight it as long as you live. Now grab your cord and please stay still.”


Spirit relaxes for a while, but finally she can contain herself no longer. “Ego, I have only one more thing to say and then I’ll never bother you again.”
“Go ahead,” Ego responds, impatiently.
“I believe all of these pressures and all of this discomfort is not only going to bring us to a new celestial light, but when we experience it, we are going to meet Mother face-to-face and know an ecstasy that is beyond anything we have ever experienced up until now.”
“You really are crazy, Spirit. Now I’m truly convinced of it.”
Your Sacred Self is a literal interpretation of the metaphor, which Dyer have adapted from a story told by Henri J.M. Nouwen. “It is my attempt to introduce you to that glowing celestial light and to let you know the wonder of having your sacred self triumph over the demands of the eg-self, which wants more than anything to hold you back,” Dyer explained.


He organized the booK around the following four understandings:
1. You are sacred, and in order to know it you must transcend the old belief system you’ve adopted.
2. You are a divine being called to know your sacred self by mastering the keys to higher awareness.
3. Your sacred self can triumph over your ego identifies and be the dominant force in your life.
4. You can radiate this awareness beyond your own boundaries and affect everyone on our planet.

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Posted by on December 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


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I strongly recommend ‘Sophie’s World’

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” — PAUL SWEENEY

 By Alex P. Vidal13639769_10208106336328750_1664974680_o.jpg-1263950

Our pockets won’t hurt if we go to the bookstore and pick up Jostein Gaarder’s No. 1 bestseller, Sophie’s World, as a gift for our loved ones–especially children and even adults who still have a passion for reading.
I made a similar endorsement in at least two articles in 2011 of this 1991 novel written by the Norwegian writer about 14-year-old Sophie Amundsen, a teenage girl living in Norway, and Alberto Knox, a middle aged philosopher who introduces her to philosophical thinking and the history of philosophy.
Back in the early 90’s during my frequent trips to the National Book Store, I ignored this book thinking it was a mere fairy tale item for children. What finally caught my attention was the small photo of what looked like Socrates on the cover’s upper left.


When I checked, a statement from the Sunday Times screamed: “Remarkable…What Jostein Gaarder has managed to do is to condense 3,000 years of thought into 400 pages; to simplify some extremely complicated arguments without trivializing them…Sophie’s World is an extraordinary achievement.”
A brief narrative further induced my interest: “Looking in her mailbox one day, a fourteen-year-old Norwegian schoolgirl called Sophie Amundsen finds two surprising pieces of paper. On them are written the questions: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Where does the world come from?'”
From these two thought-provoking questions, the readers will be brought to a great ride back to events that shaped the world–life in Athens, the Indo-European cultures of Greece and Rome, Hellenism, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Bible, Adam and Eve, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the great, Jesus Christ, Judaism, Christianity, Roman Emperors, Inquisition, Reformation, Age of Reason, Leonardo da Vinci, French Revolution, Big Bang, among other important events in world history.


For P245.50, I bought the the book, the “thirteenth impression” in 1998 at the National Book Store SM City branch in Cebu City. I read the book repeatedly like a man possessed. My love affair with Sophie’s World actually isn’t yet over.
As I write this article, I was back on page 205 on Spinoza…”God is not a puppeteer…” Alberto was telling Sophie that Baruch Spinoza, who lived from 1632 to 1677, “belonged to the Jewish community of Amsterdam, but he was excommunicated for heresy.”
“Are you going to tell me about him,” Sophie asked Alberto. “That was my intention. And we’re not going to be stopped by military provocations,” Alberto retorted.
“Few philosophers in more recent times have been so blasphemed and so persecuted for their ideas as this man,” Alberto hissed. “It happened because he criticized the established religion. He believed that Christianity and Judaism were only kept alive by rigid dogma and outer ritual. He was the first to apply what we call a historico-critical interpretation of the Bible.”


Sophie requested explanation from Alberto and readers will be able to digest what follows next.
Another thought-provoking chapter was when Sophie and Alberto discussed the Theory of the Big Bang.
“Most astronomers agree that the expanding universe can only have one explanation: Once upon a time, about 15 billion years ago, all substance in the universe was assembled in a relatively small area. The substance was so dense that gravity made it terrifically hot. Finally it got so hot and so tightly packed that it exploded. We call this explosion as Big Bang.”
I strongly recommend the book; I reecho what the Sunday Times had written on the back cover: the author has managed to condense 3,000 years of thought into 400 pages; to simplify some extremely complicated arguments without trivializing them. Enjoy reading.

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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Abolish the Senate

“Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate? WILL ROGERS

By Alex P. Vidal

The mudslinging bout between Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Juan Ponce Enrile has cost taxpayers millions of pesos. It’s a waste of time and money.
This is happening because we have a useless branch of government that is actually not necessary and should have been abolished a long time ago.
If we have a parliamentary form of government, we can never have the likes of Jinggoy, Bong, Lito Lapid, among other inutile senators. No pork barrel, no popularity contest, and no unnecessary committee investigations that are only actually in aid of grandstanding rather than legislation.
The early senators in history never resorted to personal insults and slander unlike what we have in the Philippines today. Senators had been part of Roman government since Romulus, the first king of Rome, who created 100 senators to advise him, especially in the case of alliances and treaties.


When Romulus died, there was no obvious candidate to replace him and the Roman senators feared that one of the neighboring states would take over Rome, so they set up a temporary government. They gave power to a chosen individual for only five days at time, after which the next in line took over. The time under this rotating government was called an interregnum meaning it was the government between (inter) the kings.
The Roman People were happy to see the end of the interregnum because they felt that during it they were ruled by 100 masters, instead of just a single monarch.
Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva was right when he referred to the upper chamber as “disgraceful senate.”
I agree with Villanueva when he called the Philippine Senate today as “a redundant, effete, wasteful, and costly institution that, in reality, does not represent anybody, or any sector, or any region of the country other than the self-serving interests of its members.”


It is a myth and parody to believe that senators represent the entire Filipino people. Once elected, the senators go their own merry ways, and the nation can go fly a kite till the next election, Villanueva stressed.
“If truth be told, a unicameral National Assembly in a parliamentary form of government can perform just as effectively and rationally without a Senate.
“The Upper Chamber has become unnecessary and irrelevant.
“In many countries, the Senate or upper Assembly is a ceremonial and appointive honorific Chamber composed of retired justices, professors emeritus, retired statesmen, outstanding business leaders, exceptional professionals in the sciences, extraordinary women, and experienced diplomats.


“Its main functions are, among others, as a treaty ratifying body, an impeachment court, a welcoming party to arriving foreign dignitaries, and other ceremonial duties.
“Expectedly, the members are entitled to respectable stipends and perks sans the PDAF to insulate them from corruption and the vagaries of politics.
“Alas, the current 16th Congress, as a whole, is a disgrace to the nation, and a despicably bad example to the youth of the country.
“Hence, it is an opportune time to renew and revive discussions on Constitutional revisions, term limits, and unicameralism.


“Though we have good friends among the senators, and there are outstanding, fresh, youthful, and exciting newly-elected senators, the Philippine Senate itself in recent years has fallen into disrepute, corruption, incessant squabbling, lackluster productivity, and obsessive partisanship that is making the Senate increasingly unnecessary and not cost-effective.
“The Filipino would not miss its absence and demise if the Senate were to be abolished.
“When all is said and done, it is never too late for the senators to redeem themselves and regain the respect and support of the general public.
“However, there is a new generation out there of politically conscious and activist youths who are highly skilled in the use of social media that is double-bladed and can cut both ways.”

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Posted by on December 4, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Death of mangroves, death of our future

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ALBERT EINSTEIN

By Alex P. Vidal13639769_10208106336328750_1664974680_o.jpg-1263950

We need a collective effort to save our mangroves–by hook or by crook.
When nature is hurting, humans will end up the biggest losers. There’s no escape for us, living creatures, if nature suffers from neglect, abuse, and man-made sabotage.
When mangroves are dead and we did nothing to help revive it, the future won’t be happier for our children who will inherit the earth.
Mangroves are important in our ecology. Biologically, they adapt to low oxygen, limit salt intake, limit water loss, and nutrient uptake.
Mangroves are always considered as nature’s special gift to mankind. For mitigation of climate change which generally involves reduction in human emissions of greenhouse gases, scientists suggest a need to increase mangroves.


The gradual demise of mangroves in the river at the back of the Iloilo Sports Complex in Brgy. Magsaysay, La Paz stretching the adjacent barangays Bakhaw and Bolilao in Mandurriao, has been blamed for upsurge of pollution and other environmental and social issues like erosion, squatter and lack of government programs.
This has prompted City Hall, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) to embark on a joint mangrove reforestation project to regreen the riverbanks of the 15-kilometer Iloilo River. The public-private partnership (PPP) in protecting the river is committed to enhance the biodiversity of the Iloilo River and improve the eco-tourism potentials of the area.
While this was developing in the metropolis, it was reported that at least four hectares of old-growth and reforested mangrove areas in Batad, Iloilo are now “heavily oiled” bunker fuel.


The oil spill containing 200,000 liters of bunker fuel leaked into the shores of Estancia after the 35-megawatt National Power Barge 103 slammed into the rocky coast of the northern town at the height of super typhoon Yolanda last November 8. Monstrous winds and waves dislodged the barge from its mooring about 200 meters from the coastline of Brgy. Botongon, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.
Dr. Rex Sadava, University of the Philippines Visayas’ oil spill program coordinator, has expressed alarm that bunker fuel can severely affect mangroves because it coats the trees and blocks their breathing pores.
The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed the presence of high levels of the toxic substance benzene in the air, thus a mandatory evacuation had been called by provincial and municipal authorities.
Scientists say mangrove swamps are crucial as they protect coastal areas from erosion, storm surge like the one wrought by Yolanda, and tsunamis. They explain that mangroves’ massive root systems are efficient at dissipating wave energy and slow down tidal water enough so its sediment is deposited as the tide comes in, leaving all except fine particles when the tide ebbs. In this way, add the scientist, mangroves build their own environments.


Mangrove ecosystems are often the object of conservation programs, including national biodiversity action plans, because of their uniqueness and the protection they provide against erosion.
Scientists claim that the unique ecosystem found in the intricate mesh of mangrove roots offers a quiet marine region for young organisms. In areas where roots are permanently submerged, the organisms they host include algae, barnacles, oysters, sponges, and bryozoans, which all require a hard surface for anchoring while they filter feed. Shrimps and mud lobsters reportedly use the muddy bottoms as their home.

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Posted by on December 4, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Don’t cancel Christmas parties

“Make an effort to attend every Christmas party you’re invited to, even if you can only stay a few minutes.” UNKNOWN  

By Alex P. Vidal

While we commiserate with our brothers and sisters in Central Visayas who lost their family members, homes and livelihood in the Yolanda mayhem, we should not use the tragedy as main reason why we will not hold Christmas parties this month of December. 
Christmas parties are not just about food and expensive decorations and gifts. They are part of Filipino tradition, as well as tradition practiced in the Christian world. Some of us use the occasion to hold family or class reunions, at the same time; a chance get-together event to reminisce the past and remember loved ones who have departed and those who are now living abroad. 
A Christmas party is one huge occasion where office mates, relatives, business partners, neighbors, friends and lovers gather to renew their ties, rebuild relationships, settle disputes “in the spirit of Christmas” and share gifts among themselves.


Sometimes long lost friends and relatives are able to meet only during Christmas parties when they have the opportunity to use the Yuletide season to temporarily leave their workplace and be with their families and friends.
We don’t find it scandalous if we proceed with our Christmas parties this Yuletide season as long as they are not so lavish and we don’t waste food and money. As long as the parties are simple and far from the extravagance we normally see in hotels and mansions of the rich and famous, our conscience will not bother us. God won’t get mad at us.
Holding a Christmas party does not mean that we will stop caring for our hungry and homeless countrymen in Central Visayas. Relief operations will not be set aside if we hold Christmas parties. Foreign donors won’t stop coming in if we hold Christmas parties. Our concerns and sympathies are intact–with or without Christmas parties.
It’s another story if we remain callous and insensitive with the victims’ plight and miseries and have not done anything to extend help in whatever means, yet we proceed with grandiose parties even if we are aware many of them still can’t eat three decent square meals a day in evacuation centers.


What is so scandalous is when we use the cash donations intended for the victims to buy foods, drinks and gifts for our own selves during the Christmas party; if we solicit money for the party at the expense of the victims.
The recent super typhoon happened a month before the world would celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the song goes. It was a test of our character, values and spirit; of how strong and determined we are to withstand and recover from such horrific tragedy that almost wiped out parts of our islands from the face of earth, a nightmarish calamity that sent to tears different nationalities from all over the globe who saw the terror and shock on their TV sets and internet.
It should not reduce us to cultural pygmies daunted by trauma and hysteria. We should not deny ourselves the joy and happiness–and opportunity to savor and celebrate the true spirit of Christmas which happens only once a year.

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Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


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I doubt if Divorce Law will be passed in the Philippines

By Alex P. Vidal

I have a strong feeling that divorce will never prosper in the Philippines; I mean the proposed divorce law being pushed by some lawmakers in the Lower House.
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country and dissolution of marriage or anything that binds the family together has always been opposed passionately by the Church. Because it wields tremendous power in our society, the Church always comes out in the upper hand in almost all debates and efforts to win public sympathy and compliance.


Marriage is a permanent bond or commitment, sealed by a religious or legal act. It is a civil contract or a personal arrangement between the two persons involved. As what noted literary critics Samuel Johnson once said: “To the contract of marriage there is a third party–Society; and if it be considered as a vow–God; and therefore, it cannot be dissolved by their consent alone.”


On the other hand, there are liberal ideas that not only push for divorce as the “the most effective” alternative to put an end to a poisonous relationship, but also consider divorce as a social and personal advocacy.
Adultery is a good ground for divorce. Other grounds of divorce is vaguely defined as “incompatibility.” Marriage may be dissolved when there is no longer affection between husband and wife.

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Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Uncategorized