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A ROAD MAP TO THE VOYAGE FROM CHAPEL TO COURT:
A law book that’s no bore, it’s loaded with useful information and actual cases

The Law on Annulment: Rules of Disengagement, how to regain your freedom to re-marry in the Philippines
by Marites n. Sison
Jim V. Lopez, Anvil, 2001

Before you decide to have your horrible marriage annulled, or better yet, before you even decide to take the plunge, arm yourself with The Law on Annulment: Rules of Disengagement, how to regain your freedom to re-marry in the Philippines, written by Jim V. Lopez.

The book, despite its long, superfluous title, is very handy, especially if you are ignorant of the laws relating to marriage, if you’re having difficulty navigating the murky waters of the Philippine judicial system, and if your lawyer charges you for every legal question you ask. It is also one that students and advocates of the law ought to read, if only to remind them that the law can and should be popularized to make it alive.

"Matrimonial dissolution is a fascinating field of law," so begins Lopez’s preface. “It involves the study of a perilous voyage from the chapel to the court, from whispered poetry to vociferous prose, from the altar to the gallows, from marriages made in heaven to annulments hatched in hell.”

The best part about it is that, unlike most law books, it is not boring. You can actuallt take it to the beach to relax; it was written with the layman in mind. How can you not start reading, with such catchy chapter titles as “Matrimony: Vengeance or Antidote?” or “Like Hamlet’s Quandary: To Marry or Not to Marry?” or “Four Ways to Leave Your Lover.”

Lopez doesn’t disappoint because the well-researched book is loaded with useful information, anecdotes, and examples of actual cases. It provides legal advice that would otherwise cost a client a fortune if she were to consult a private lawyer when she’s only contemplating her options.

The book not only takes us on a virtual tour of the ins and outs of Philippine courts, it explores the intricacies of marriage and family life itself.

Law’s Evolution

Aside from peppering each chapter with quotations from famous people (e.g., “By all means marry, if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” – Socrates), it also provides historical antecedents. Do you know, for instance, that in pre-colonial times Filipinos practice divorce? Grounds for marriage, dissolution included adultery on the part of the wife, desertion on the part of the husband, childlessness, and insanity. So, whose fault is it that divorce was eventually scrapped? Read for yourself.

These facts are not there without reason; they are important because they demonstrate how the law evolves and why. It makes us appreciate why our inputs as ordinary citizens are important when new laws are crafted or revised.

Lopez obviously did not intend his book to serve as surrogate lawyer, although it succeeds in being one. He advises readers to still work with a lawyer should they decide to take legal action. Nonetheless, he gives readers something important – empowerment, a much-abused term among NGOs, yes, but very applicable in the book’s case. At least a client will no longer be able at the mercy of his or her lawyer now that some aspects of the law have been demystified. A client not only minimizes fees, he or she feels good because he or she can make informed decisions about his or her own life.

It is the reader’s luck that Lopez – his impressive credentials are on the back cover – has a writing background, having served as a managing editor of the Philippine Collegian during the martial law years, and as contributing editor of the Philippine Law Journal, among others. For many years, he also served as segment host on RPN’s morning show, “Wake Up Call.”

Perhaps Lopez should follow up with a book on how citizens can use the law to get rid of corrupt and inefficient government officials. Now that would be something worth waiting for.

Source: Sison, Marites. Newsbreak. (July 8, 2002) A road map to the voyage from chapel to court.


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