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Bacolod City, PhilippinesSaturday, October 26, 2013
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with Eli Tajanlangit

Freddie’s ‘Anak’

At a time when the nation  is literally and figuratively shaking with man-made  and natural disasters that are straining not only our resources but our  attention span as well, here comes music icon Freddie Aguilar with his own “scandal” to add to the national conversation.

The 60-year old folk singer, who brought the Pinoy komposo to the world with his sensational “Anak”, had fallen in love with a 16-year-old girl, inspiring brick-bats, snickers, and as of this week, a case for “qualified seduction.”

It is, uh, an interesting case. A side of us cannot quite accept the fact of  an old man falling for a girl young enough  to be his grand child, making for one lopsided relationship, the man too wise to the ways of the world, the girl just about to see it. The man has seen the world and done it all; the girl is just starting to take in the world with all that it offers. It doesn’t seem fair, and it opens the girl to exploitation, even if her parents reportedly approve the relationship.

It is a relationship that certainly flaunts convention and disturbs the neat little traditions we have. But scientifically, it does  make some sense, well almost. Shouldn’t men be older than women for better reproduction?  I read  once that young girls, as young as 13, in fact, are best for bearing children because they are, excuse the pun, in full flower. In fact, generally, children of mothers we consider very young these days are studier and more intelligent, so it is said.

Don’t geneticists choose the young, full grown of the species – in fruits and animals, for example – to promote  better offsprings and improve the line? Didn’t  Thailand produce those extra-luscious, extra-sweet and extra large custard apples and mangoes by choosing the seeds of the best, fully matured fruits, and bred them until they got the best breeds? Of course we are not along fruits here, but humans, I just thought that explains the law of evolution that could somehow explain Lolo Freddie’s decision to take on a sixteener for his love.

As to the girl, I am sure psychologists are now having a field day dissecting the natural pull girls have for father figures, how girls have a natural oftentimes unconscious inclination for paternal figures. Except that in this case, this isn’t just about a father image, but that of a grandfather.

Then there is  the matter of this being a private decision: who are we to judge this love affair? If even the parents consent to it, who are we to put it down? The problem, here, of course, is the law – which was crafted precisely to protect children, under which this 16-year-old is qualified, from the vultures of the world.  The problem here is that the law was crafted precisely to protect children from even their parents who, in many cases, have abetted their exploitation such as in those child prostitution cases.

And then there is society’s – the present one, at least, because I think  societies of yore were not exactly squeamish about old men mating with young girls --  standard of male behaviour. Normally, past 40, men are supposed to be raising their children; past 60, they are supposed to be enjoying their grandchildren, not fondling girls their age.

So set and strict are we about this, that we reserve some  biting words for those who stray: Dirty Old Man. Cradle-Snatcher. Pedophile, like it was a crime, when  as in all things, there also many cases of old men and young girls who are successful in their marriages, although of course, the male usually die ahead, long before the girl does.           

The Freddie Aguilar affair is not exactly the first of this kind, not even in the  Philippine entertainment industry:  Vic Sotto and his Pauleen Luna; Dolphy and his Zsa Zsa Padilla are just two other examples, the first one still blooming, the other one already concluded.  If there was anything, did not Dolphy and Zsa Zsa prove their age gap did not stop them from having a relationship that lasted till death [of Dolphy] ?

Then there is the case of controversial doctors, aged Vicky Belo and young Hayden Kho, another May-December affair that has persisted all this time, despite the rough patches it has had to go through.

While it isn’t the only case of its kind, it seems like Freddie’s love story has caught the imagination of the nation, not simply because of his celebrity, but the audacious age gap between him and his girl. It is more than just a May-December affair, somebody wrote, it is more  a January-December romance.*


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