Grace Grande: Modern-day concubineBy Cristina DC Pastor
It’s been five years since Grace Grande left her common-law husband – a well-connected politician from Cagayan Valley – to make a new life for herself and their two boys in Los Angeles. But while she thought leaving the Philippines would put an end to her misery, it created more problems, foremost a web of complex legal issues that include her ability to the stay in the United States legally.
Grace was in New York this weekend to speak before a December 16th panel following the “Honour” theater production at the La Mama E.T.C. Before the event, she sat down with The FilAm to discuss her legal jousting with former lover, Agbiag party list Congressman Patricio Antonio, publisher of a cockfighting magazine and a crony of the powerful Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
She faces at least three legal issues: extradition (to the Philippines), asylum (to be able to stay in the U.S.) and custody (of the two sons). One case determines the outcomes of the two others, and Grace’s pro bono lawyers are treading delicately on which has the best chance of securing victory. Just recently, the court has granted her the right to post bond so she could remain in the country until her extradition is decided with finality. A “miracle,” according to Grace. The bond came from three people who believed in her cause. Another extradition hearing is scheduled for January 23rd.
With conviction and with very little emotion, Grace recounted the harassment she said she continues to experience despite being thousands of miles away from her “abuser.” As women’s organizations AF3IRM and the Mariposa Center for Change rallied to her side, Grace’s private struggles became a ‘cause celebre,’ attracting the support and sympathy of many women’s groups around the U.S.
TF: Why did you post bond?
GG: I’m supposed to be in jail. It’s a bond for extradition, but it’s a miracle that the prosecutor’s office has agreed to release me on a bond.
TF: How much was the bond?
GG: It’s a surety bond, there’s no outright cash. Three people vouched for me. These are three people who are part of my world.
TF: How are you and your sons doing five years after?
GG: Very well. My boys go to school and I work in a church. We are no longer living with relatives, we’re on our own.
TF: Tell us about the abuse. Were they physical, emotional, psychological?
GG: Mostly emotional. I remember in the Philippines we were watching a movie where the woman is standing up to her husband. He told me if you do that to me you will either be in the paper or be covered by a newspaper. It’s like saying that he would have me salvaged and my dead body covered by a newspaper. He said all the time that I’m garbage and I’m ungrateful.
I was controlled and trapped. He monitored my daily activities and made clear what I was permitted to do and not do.
A year later, I learned that he had several other mistresses. I was number four. When I told him I wanted to leave, he ridiculed me. He threatened to have my children taken from me, and threatened my life.
TF: And the children? How were they abused?
GG: They were trained not to call him dad in public. Patricio does not acknowledge my boys and has not given them his name.
TF: Why would he want custody if he never even acknowledged them as his sons?
GG: It’s not the boys he’s after. It’s me. He knows the boys are my life and if he gets them susuko ako.
TF: How did you meet?
GG: We met at a party. He was 22 years older. I was still working – I was modeling for Oskar Peralta and Goullee Gorospe — but with all my economic burdens, my house was in danger of being foreclosed, my sister’s tuition needed payment, etc. He asked me to be his “querida” or mistress. He was married to another woman and had children. Even so, I agreed feeling I had no choice.
We were together 10 years. The abuse started when my younger son just turned 2.
TF: Did you ever love him?
GG: I agreed to this relationship because I thought I had no other choice.