The Third Party Syndrome in the Philippine Cinema: Psychoanalysis’ Perspective

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The Third Party Syndrome in the Philippine Cinema: Psychoanalysis’ Perspective

“Kaya kabit ang tawag sa kanila kasi daig pa nila ang epoxy kung kumabit. Kaya querida kasi mga kiri. Kaya mistress kasi nakaka-stress.”
-Jaclyn Jose, A Secret Affair (2012)

No Other Woman. The Mistess. A Secret Affair. These films are just a few of the recent offerings of ABS-CBN Star Cinema, one of the leading production houses in the country. Aside from all being acclaimed films, these three all revolve around the concept of an illicit affair or, as Yahoo! News writer Maridol Rañoa-Bismark comically dubbed, third party syndrome.

No Other Woman, a film produced in 2011, is one of the highest grossing films of all time, earning a total of P67.1 million just after four weeks of running in cinemas and a gross of P278.39 million, earning the spot as the highest grossing local film in the Philippine history for almost three weeks. It was topped only by a film produced later that year but the film No Other Woman still holds the second place in the highest grossing local film list. The film focused on the story of Ram (Derek Ramsay), a furniture supplier who is happily married to Charmaine (Cristine Reyes). Ram lands a big client, an owner of a new luxury resort, but needs the help of Kara (Anne Curtis), the daughter of the owner of the resort, to finalize the deal. Kara's help, however, comes with a price, because she fancies Ram to be her lover. Not before long, Kara successfully seduces Ram, even though she knows about his marriage. When Charmaine learns of the affair, she finds ways to fight for her husband's waning attention.

No Other Woman is considered to be one of the pioneering local films that show a leading woman in a liberal and unconventional light, specifically the character played by actress Anne Curtis who is the third party in the story. Anne Curtis played as the mistress who is quite well-off and had a well-paying job. Hence, the film (along with previous films A Love Story and My Neighbor’s Wife, among others) shattered the belief that mistresses and third parties are generally involved in illicit affairs for financial purposes.

The films The Mistress and A Secret Affair are more recently produced ones, with the latter yet to be shown in cinemas. The Mistress is quite different to its forerunner, showcasing the mistress (played by actress Bea Alonzo) as a gentle, somewhat modest girl which is contrary to the stereotypical infuriating mistress image in the Philippine media.

But then, why do stories about infidelity pop up like mushrooms these days? More importantly, why do films with themes like this sell to the people and even make it to the box office? Why are we so fond of watching films that makes us seem like peeping toms and intruders to other people’s business? People say that films are mirrors of reality; does that mean that the Philippine society has a rampant incidence of infidelity and illicit affairs?

One way to explain this third party syndrome is through the psychologist’s perspective. According to showbiz psychologist Dr. Randy Dellosa (Rañoa-Bismark, 2012), films about third parties stir emotions so strong people can’t resist queuing in cinemas just to watch them. Whether it is hate for the mistress, disgust to the unfaithful individual, or sympathy to the innocent and oblivious spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend, we all feel some kind of strong emotions when watching these kinds of films and these strong emotions keep us wanting to watch more. In addition, all of us, in one way or another, know a ‘third party’ from our social circle. Watching these films only grants us the opportunity to satisfy our need to take a little glimpse at the elusive concept of infidelity that is only tangible to us in forms of rumors and unconfirmed stories.

Specifically, psychoanalysis is an ideal tool to explain this ‘third party syndrome’. Psychoanalysis is originally a therapeutic method used in the field of...
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