Why would somebody steal a toilet bowl particularly when it was used by more than 100,000 people while it was put on display in a cubicle in New York? Well, it’s not a brain twister if the item is an 18-karat gold toilet with a value of more than $5 million. Burglars had broken into Blenheim Palace where the golden toilet was on exhibit in the palace, which is a major tourist attraction in the suburbs of London.
The toilet was once offered to President Donald J. Trump for his personal use in the White House during his presidency but he declined it. It was clearly a missed opportunity for Trump to compose his tweets while perched on the golden throne to match his obnoxious language. Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The three-century old palace was a gift to Sir John Churchill, the hero of the Battle of Blenheim, for his loyal service to the Crown and military triumps. Sir John was installed as the first Duke of Marlborough. If his famous great descendant Prime Minister Winston were alive, we could only surmise what colorful invectives he would have issued against the perpetrators of the despicable crime committed right inside his ancestral house. Or he could have just dismissed it as a toilet humor.
In the Philippines, the counterpart of the golden toilet is the story about the “Golden Orinola.” There’s an apocryphal story that the late President Elpidio Quirino had a “Golden Orinola” in the Malacañang Palace. It was one of the alleged ostentatious display of presidential vanity and corruption peddled by Quirino’s political enemies. This was not, however, proven. A golden Buddha, which was bruited to be a part of the treasures of Yamashita, haunted another Ilocano president, but that is another story.
The Senate made history when it conducted the first ever hearing on the controversial divorce bill attended by several resource persons who had their own personal stories to tell regarding their harrowing and bitter relationships with their partners. Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chairman of the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality argued that making the dissolution of marriage available to all Filipinos who want a second chance to start all over again “protects children from abuse and rebuilds broken families.” The aggrieved spouse also deserves a second chance, not just the repentant prisoners who can get an early release from imprisonment. The difference is that a prisoner is given a second chance on the basis of his good conduct, while an abused spouse will be released on the bad conduct of the partner. Hontiveros also claims that the proposed divorce law is pro-marriage, pro-family and pro-children. Wait until we hear from the other side.
Many Islamic countries still practice talaq where their men can divorce their wives by pronouncing the word talaq three times. The declaration can be made orally, in writing or via electronic means. The Muslim husband can repudiate his wife unilaterally and effect a divorce instantly between them. It is a practice recognized by their law. However, in some countries that are predominantly Islamic or with Muslim minorities like in India, the talaq practice has been declared illegal under a new law. In a landmark decision in 2017, the Supreme Court of India declared the practice as invalid and unconstitutional. A law was passed criminalizing the practice. It is believed that by abolishing the threat of instant divorce, Indian women will be empowered and emboldened to fight against abuses and threats from their husbands. It will promote gender equality and justice. In a recent case, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that a Muslim man can divorce his wife through talaq since Muslim marriages are covered by the Muslim Code. The Code allows a single repudiation made during the non-menstrual period of the wife when he abstains from having sex with her.
The marriage contract is a lifetime sentence, like committing a heinous crime. Except for very limited grounds, it is hardly possible to have a marriage dissolved. Later in marriage, the pledge, “Till death do us part” is a self-imposed penalty that will haunt many couples. Remember this joke? Pedro was sulking in his favorite sofa. His wife approached him and asked: “Why are you sad, Honey?” And Pedro replied: “Do you remember 15 years ago when we were making love in your room and your father caught us with his shotgun pointed at me?” The wife answered, “Yes, I do. Father was so mad that he threatened to sue you for molesting a minor and put you in jail for 15 years unless you marry me.” Pedro, almost sobbing, said, “Do you know that today I would have been a free man.”