'5-year-old should not be left to decide'
MANILA -- Between his parents James Yap and Kris Aquino, who are currently involved in a publicized legal spat, James "Bimby" Yap, Jr. will naturally side with his mother, according to a family counselor.
|Kris Aquino and son Bimby
In an interview on the Studio 23 newscast "Iba Balita" on Friday, family counselor Joji Racelis said it is not surprising that Bimby appears to be taking the side of Aquino in her ongoing tiff with her former husband.
"Natural na natural 'yun, kasi usually ang formative years ng bata, na sa nanay talaga. Mas maka-nanay siya," Racelis said, referring to the 5-year-old boy.
"Pag nakikita niya kung gaano kagalit 'yung nanay niya, baka nagagaya niya iyon... Lalaki siya, tapos laki siya sa nanay niya, lagi siyang nandoon, [kaya] parang he might feel obliged na dapat kumampi ako sa nanay ko," the counselor said.
Aquino and Yap were married in civil rites in July 2005. Their marriage was declared null in February last year, following allegations of infidelity on Yap's part.
The father no longer has custody of Bimby, but is able to visit his son 109 times in a year as ordered by court. The child lives with Aquino along with his half-brother, Joshua.
"Alam mo litung-lito na 'yung bata," Racelis said, referring to Bimby. "At saka kung minsan hindi na niya maiisip kung ano na talaga yung nararamdaman niya."
"Ang sinasabi nalang niya kung ano 'yung sa tingin niyang dapat niyang sabihin, so baka 'yung mga mina-mouth niya hindi na galing sa kanya 'yun, galing sa kalituhan na niya, o sino 'yung mas malakas na boses o mas ma-impluwensya sa buhay niya ngayon," the family counselor said.
He said, she said
Early this week, Aquino's legal counsel Atty. Francisco Chavez said the 42-year-old actress-host is seeking to make a temporary protection order (TPO) against Yap permanent and this would mean the 31-year-old basketball player needs to keep a distance of at least 100 meters from Aquino and Bimby.
Issued on March 15 by a Makati City court, the order is effective for 30 days.
The TPO stems from an incident last December 3, when Yap allegedly attempted to "force himself" on Aquino in front of Bimby, at which point the child, according to Chavez, angrily pushed his father out of the actress' bedroom.
Aquino has said that Yap's "advances," which the star cager has denied, has had "effects" on their son Bimby. This, and three other incidents in January and March where Yap allegedly caused "distress" on their son, the actress said, were what prompted her to seek a TPO against her former husband, and subsequently seek its permanent effectivity.
Yap, in a press conference last Wednesday, turned emotional over the growing animosity of his son towards him, which he attributes to Aquino's alleged "brainwashing." The actress-host has also denied this, saying she in fact discourages her son from "hating" his father.
"Kung ikaw ang nasa lugar ng bata, isipin mo, may sinasabi 'yung nanay mo, may sinasabi 'yung tatay mo, may napapanood ka sa TV, nakakalito," Racelis said.
She added, "Tsaka depende kung ano ang perception niya. Ang mga bata meron silang good and bad eh, right and wrong. So kung minsan, magde-decide siya, ay, good 'yung isa, bad 'yung isa, pero alam ba niya 'yung tunay na nangyayari?"
Racelis said that while both camps' clashing claims are equally believable, it is best to tap a third party in assessing the situation.
"Kung makikinig tayo sa kwento nung babae at titingnan natin 'yung buong istorya from her perspective, kakampi tayo sa kanya. Kung pakikinggan naman natin 'yung lalaki, kakampi rin tayo sa kanya," she said.
"Kaya ang pinakamabuti diyan is a neutral third party na makikinig sa kanilang dalawa, at hindi ito judge na magde-decide kung sino 'yung tama o mali," the family counselor added.
Bimby vs James?
On Friday, both Aquino's and Yap's camp were issued a gag order by a Makati City court in relation to their ongoing legal battle.
Earlier, however, Chavez said a hearing is set on April 8 to address Aquino's request to make the TPO against Yap permanent. The lawyer said his client will appear as the first witness against her former husband. Bimby, likewise, may also testify against his father to "affirm what is stated in our petition," Chavez added.
"If we can save the child from testifying, we will," Chavez said. "It all depends on what the court requires. If the court says she has to listen to the child, the child is ready to testify. He is a very intelligent 5-year-old kid."
Asked if he feels Bimby will be able to make his "own decision" considering his age, the lawyer said, "Let's put it this way -- we cannot expect much from a 5-year-old kid, but he understands what he is doing."
Racelis, however, disagreed that Bimby can make his "own decision." The family counselor said choosing between his parents will be difficult for the child.
"Ang mahirap kasi sa bata, pag nag-away 'yung magulang niya, theoretically, dapat hindi siya papapiliin: Sino ang mas mahal mo, yung nanay mo o 'yung tatay mo? Mahirap sagutin 'yon eh," she said.
The family counselor advised that Bimby should be spared from making a "decision," and instead account for his say in the matter in arriving at an actual decision among the adults involved in the case.
"Hindi kailangang siya ang magpasya, pero kailangang pakinggan siya, kung ano 'yung views niya. Tapos pag pakikinggan na siya, you take that into consideration, then you will decide, pero hindi siya 'yung magde-decide. Masyado pa siyang bata," she said.
As a respite from the controversy, Aquino and Bimby, along with Joshua, are in Paris, France for a vacation. Yap had earlier sought a hold departure order on his former partner for fear that she may have no plans to return to the Philippines with their son, especially in light of her resignation from all her programs on ABS-CBN. However, Yap's petition was junked by court.
Although Bimby's trip to see Disneyland in Paris may provide enjoyment for the 5-year-old, as Chavez had said, Racelis stressed that it may be best for the child to be assessed by a psychologist.
"I think ang mabuti dito ay para for the protection din ng bata, sana kumuha sila ng child psychologist na magbibigay ng feedback sa mga magulang kung paano naaapektuhan ang anak nila at kung anong mabuti," she said.