Sunday, May 13, 2007

Season for Circumcision

Summer is circumcision season in the Philippines. Boys talk in hushed silence of the when when the when will be mutilated--the right of passage to manhood. There will be a lot of skirt wearing boys this summer; lots of tomatoes too. Ha, the stories, the stories.

I was circumcised together with my cousins in a sterile clinic, anesthetized, painless and without any thrill—no stories to tell. Pffftttttt.

I envy my friends talked about the psychological preparations and the will power and the courage and the stories of cowardice and the stories of bravery of swallowed guava leaves of bleeding…while I had nothing; the only scary part of my “penal” ordeal was the anesthesia injection and after that, well, it felt nothing, nothing. For consolation, at least (I hope I never will be afflicted), I got a primer of how impotence felt like (or not felt like).

It’s amazing if one imagine the risks traditional circumcision brings. The candidates are submerged in dirty water (a river or a carabao pool) for minutes. Then there’s no antiseptic just chewed guava leaves. No sterilization, just a shave (barber), bolo (farmer) or a chisel (carpenter) wiped clean with a rug operation after operations. It is amazing how no one, that is as far as I know, died of tetanus or infection. (Imagine having tetanus--lockjaw of the...errr...tweet tweet.) Some even healed faster than the medically and surgically circumcised, like me; to think that I got all these capsules to drink and all these wash to disinfect my well pampered tweet tweet.

Anyway, according to my friends this is how the traditional ritual of circumcision is done. First, the candidates would spend half an hour bathing in a river or a carabao pool in order to soften the foreskin. While bathing, they would chew guava leaves. Then the surgeon, often a barber, sometimes a farmer, or a carpenter, would call all the candidates to line up single file with their pants down. He would check if the candidates’ foreskins are already loose from the tweet tweet. This is done by pulling the foreskin all the way down to tweet tweet’s base. If the foreskin went down all the way, then the patient is ready for the ritual. But if the foreskin is not loose enough, it is forced that sometimes it bleeds.

After checking the looseness of the foreskin, the surgeon often a barber, sometimes a farmer, or a carpenter would then ask the candidates to insert their foreskins to the tapered end of an L shaped guava branch that was fixed to the ground. When the foreskin is inserted, the surgeon would then ask the candidate to look up. He would then tap the foreskin with his finger to numb the skin, and many times candidates shout a shout of pain thinking that that was already the shave (barber), or the bolo (farmer), or the chisel (carpenter) cutting through the foreskin. Others, during this tapping part, swallow the guava their chewing not so much because of the pain but because of surprise. Others simply lost consciousness, while others just grab their pants and run like Andres Bonifacio being chased by the Spanish guardia civil. Many times candidates never got passed the tapping part. Those who lost consciousness and those who ran away will never lose the stigma of their experience and will be the laughing stock of the whole neighborhood; they will be made fun of during drinking sessions, during funeral wakes when funny stories are needed to waken the mourners, and every summer when it is the season for the ritual—their names will be mention long after their dead. Of course they can do nothing but take the heckling like a grown up man.

When the tapping part is done, the surgeon often a barber, sometimes a farmer, or a carpenter would then lay the blade of the shave (barber), or bolo (farmer), or chisel (carpenter) then tap it with a piece of wood or a hammer (carpenter) dividing the foreskin. Then the surgeon would then ask the candidates to spit the guava leaves that will act as the antiseptic for the operation, then the foreskin was divided exposing the bald tweet tweet. The candidates would then bring out a piece of cloth, traditionally called “baru-baruan” (baby clothes), to bandage the newly born baby…err….newly exposed tweet tweet.

Now, that’s fun.

What's German for circumcission? It's Slizenhutten.


TLC Tugger said...

Understand that the traditional Filipino procedure you describe is NOT what the rest of the world calls circumcision. As brutal as it sounds, the traditional version may actually be more humane, since no sensual tissue is amputated. Instead, the top of the skin tube is slit so that the foreskin opening becomes loose enough for it to roll off the glans. In medical terms this is known as supercision.

George said...

Thanks for the info.

Jayred said...

George, tama ba yung pinagsasabi ng mama na yun? :-)

George said...

Hindi ko alam pero sana pumunta siya sa pinas at sumubok para malaman niya. :-)

Jayred said...


Joey said...


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