Text & photo by Rommel G Rebollido .
Circumcision, customary to many Filipinos, continue to be prevalent amid an emerging debate on whether to cut or not.
The widespread practice of “tuli” among Filipino males, makes the Philippines as among the few countries that adhere to what many western countries consider as inhumane penile mutilation.
But for many Filipinos, going through the “cutting” process means main streaming into the vast majority of circumcised males and escape from being ridiculed as “pisot” or “supot.”
Such social stigma that developed against the uncircumcised boosted with some Filipino folk beliefs on the benefits of circumcision contributed much in cementing the practice into the Filipino psyche.
It is usually during the dry season in the Philippines – when school is off, that boys, mostly nine to 12-year-olds, go though the traditional “rite of passage” to manhood.
The continued practice of circumcision in the Philippines is attributed to the belief of many Filipino mothers, who are usually the most insistent – even shoving their boys to be circumcised.
Many of them said circumcision increases the size of their boy’s penis, makes their child taller and so on.
Anna Tuason, a 52-year-old mother of four boys, said his sons are much taller than their father whom she hinted to be uncircumcised. “Mubo man gud ilang amahan,” she said giggling.
But medical practitioners said it is genetics and not the removal of foreskin that determines the height of a person. A person will grow tall with or without circumcision, Dr. Daniel Galang said.
No matter how many circumcisions a boy has to go through, if his ancestors just do not have that log his mother wishes him to have, it would all be in vain, he explained.
In rural communities, a boy being circumcised is asked to chew guava leaves which extract he will spit on the cut as an antiseptic. Some boys were known to have swallowed the leaves instead out of anxiety.
In more urbanized places, however, the procedure is done the modern way, almost painless with an anesthetic and the proper surgical tools by medical practitioners.
The practice of circumcision seemingly started during the stone age as suggested by tools and artifacts that were recovered in Egypt, where the procedure is known to have started.
In the Philippines, however, nothing is known as to how and when it began.
In recent years, however, there has been an ongoing debate on whether circumcision should continue to be practiced or not.
The debate gave rise to a question on who gives the better pleasure – a circumcised one or one that is not?
Ask the mothers.