Ay, supot!

THE AFTERNOON RAINS in past days reminded us that summer may be ending soon, which means time is running out for the ritual of passage that is male circumcision (“tuli” in Filipino and “kugit” in Ilokano).

Various  groups, ranging from media organizations to the Philippine National Police to civic and religious organizations, sponsor their respective “Operation Tuli” projects which intrigue foreigners because the Philippines is one of the few countries left in the world that insist on  penile mutilation.

A month before I entered sixth grade, my brother Herry accompanied me to the then Ilocos Norte Provincial Hospital to undergo almost every Filipino child’s very first surgery which, medical practitioners now agree, is done for reasons not medical.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, issued a statement in 1999 saying the health benefits of the practice “are not compelling enough.”  Some years ago, Dr. Reynaldo Joson, chair of the Department of Surgery of a top hospital in Manila, launched a crusade against routine male circumcision which he believed was “not necessary.”

Medical anthropologist Michael Tan has also tackled this issue in his Philippine Daily Inquirer column.  As a graduate student at the University of the Philippines Diliman, I have had the pleasure of exchanging views with Dr. Tan, especially on issues of reproductive health.  He posits:

“Among western countries, it’s been mainly the Americans who have clinged on to the practice, with strange reasons. At one time, American doctors thought circumcision could prevent masturbation. Remember that in the 19th century and, I suspect for some moralists in the 21st century, there was this myth that masturbation had harmful effects. Some doctors even thought you could masturbate to death – no wonder they had this mad search for preventive methods.

“Then there was this idea that uncircumcized males were ‘unclean’ and that the ‘dirt’ causes diseases in their partners. In fact, Filipinos tend to tease uncircumcized men by wrinkling their noses when they pass by, insinuating that the stench from the ‘dirt’ is so overwhelming. This is of course total nonsense – junior’s state of hygiene depends less on a piece of skin than what you do, or don’t do, with it. I worry, for example, about how Filipinos avoid taking a bath after sex because they think this causes pasma. I think that belief creates more problems of sexual hygiene than being uncut.

“In the last few years there has been speculation that circumcision might prevent HIV/AIDS. One theory is that the uncircumcized male’s foreskin provides more surface area for the virus to enter but I think this is not very scientific – the virus’ entry into the body, and its causing an infection, involves more of blood vessels than skin. The bottom line is that Filipino circumcized men are being infected with HIV/AIDS so it may actually be dangerous to propagate the idea that a cut penis protects you from AIDS.

“Circumcision in the Philippines persists because of many other folk beliefs. Let me refute them. First, circumcision does not make help to make a person taller. Once puberty sets in, you will grow with or without circumcision, your height pretty much a function of genetics and nutrition. Second, circumcision does not make you more fertile – how many children you have depends on you’re the quantity and quality of your sperm, and your sense of sexual responsibility. Third, circumcision doesn’t give you a longer penis – having a pedro or a pedrito involves a bit of genetics. Nutrition, as far as I know, does not play a significant role. (Some of our readers will remember how they had [to] bring out a magnifying glass with that superhunk of a partner). Finally, circumcision doesn’t make you a better lover – that you pick up from experience and reading Inquirer columnists. Moreover, Margy Holmes (who you should also read, even if she isn’t in the Inquirer) will tell you that research shows that the foreskin is exquisitely sensitive and that supot males have more pleasurable sexual sensations than their “cut” brothers.

“So where does this leave us – tuli or not tuli? Let’s hear from our medical experts. Joson wrote his colleagues at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s Department of Family and Community Medicine for their stand and they agree: Routine circumcision has no therapeutic basis. The doctors do not recommend infant circumcision and they worry that circumcision done with bare health facilities, such as in charity medical missions, may cause more harm than benefit.

“At the same time, the doctors recognize the strong cultural pressures to continue the practice. Circumcision is a ritual of passage, with an entire barkada of boys on the verge of puberty going through the guillotine together. The doctors recognize, too, the stigma attached to being supot, and have this interesting observation: the pressure to circumcize is said to be psychologically ingrained and culturally embedded in the collective psyche of Filipino women. No wonder sometimes it’s mothers who drag their sons, screaming and begging for mercy, to the chopper.

“The doctors worry that if they stop circumcizing, there may be more problems because Filipino boys will end up in the hands of traditional practitioners, who will perform the lethal procedure with a bamboo sliver or broken glass, spitting on a wad of guava leaves after the coup de grace.

“It looks like circumcision’s going to be around in the Philippines for some time. Our doctors will just have to keep speaking out, explaining the risks and disadvantages involved with circumcision including infections, bleeding, reduction of sexual pleasure. At the same time, they will have to keep on explaining that so-called benefits such as increased height, fertility, virility and a long dong are all myths.”

Looking back, dear karikna, having undergone circumcision is one thing I now regret.

Uncircumcised, I would risk being teased and ridiculed by society, but it would be enough consolation that Harry Truman, Martin Luther King Jr., John Paul II, The Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Prince William, among many other great men, also kept their foreskins intact.

With ninety-nine percent of the Filipino male populace circumcised, chances are Mike Arroyo, Mikey Arroyo, Dato Arroyo, Iggy Arroyo, Virgilio Garcillano, Benjamin Abalos, Jocjoc Bolante, Romulo Neri, former injustice secretary Raul Gonzales, Willie Revillame, Mr. Koala Bear, and other machos of their kind, are not supot, but they are neither my idea of real men nor are they human beings I want our children to be like.

Cut the cutting, shall we?


41 Comments

Filed under Sociology

41 responses to “Ay, supot!

  1. korydon

    Though I’m a citizen of the USA, my doctor was born in the Philippines. Fortunately, he somehow escaped Tuli … !

    In the USA it’s not always easy to find a doctor who is intact, as so many of them suffered genital mutilation during infancy. Indeed, I rejected three doctors before finding Dr. Rago. However he escaped the knife, I’m grateful, because cut doctors have almost no understanding about the anatomical and functional aspects of a normal penis.

    Rood

  2. Traditional Filipino, pagutuli, is not circumcision and is simply sub-incision. Traditional Filipino circumcision does not remove the foreskin and leaves an unsightly ‘snood’ hanging off the underside of the penis.

    In the USA, I have on several occasions been asked to recommend patients for surgery to remove this silly looking appendage.

  3. korydon

    In other words, you authorized the completion of the physical assault begun earlier on these poor men. Is one form of genital amputation better than another? More cutting only compounds the initial wrong. Surely an approach more friendly to the normal, natural penile anatomy is possible. After all, it’s not just a piece of skin.

    Rood

  4. Byron

    hahahah, sa lahat ng blog mo, ito ung pinaka nag enjoy ako habang binabasa hahahahah!!!

    by the way, sino si mr koala bear??

    ganda, dami kong natutunan sa blog na to heheh

  5. I believe our traditional pagtutuli is an adaptation to the Jewish practice of ‘Bar Mitzvah’, the coming of age as an adult. For some Pinoys, it means the boy is now a man, ready to reproduce. But that was maybe the thinking of those men during the early days up to the 70’s, as circumcision are mostly done while in puberty age. High School days, adda aremna ken essemna iti sex ngaminen, hehe! Kasta ti nakannawidan nga ritual. It encourages the initial machismo of the new young man to endure the pain of the ritual. Not so much in the 80’s and beyond as some of my male relatives have their penises mutilated just after birth! Iti panunot dagiti dadduma, kasla awan ganasnan ata awanen tay kaes-eskanna nga ritual ti kasdiay. I find this article of yours amusing and quite educational. We could all share in some good views, medically and otherwise…

    • Becaus the reasons for routine male circumcision are cultural (questionable and lame), even aesthetic for some, and not medical, it should not therefore be offered in public hospitals, esp. with the current shortage of doctors and medical facilities.

      Also, a ban on infant circumcision must be in order, at least to give the boy a choice later on whether to have his penis altered or not. It is his own penis after all, not his parents’ nor society’s.

  6. DEL

    It’s been a part of our culture and there is no harm in letting it stay. Anyway, every male have their own choice, so let it be.

    To add, I was circumcized by a beautiful lady doctor, and I was thrilled, haha.

    • Infant circumcision must be prohibited then. For adults, aggressive education on this matter must be made so they could make informed choices.

      Thrilled? hehe, that’s odd. Erect penises can’t be operated on, only limp ones.

      • DEL

        Fortunately, they injected it with anesthesia before the lady doctor came in, hahaha.

      • Ahem. Herdy, some cultural habits are hard to break. Even morals and passed laws that are contrary to some cultural habits are disregarded to accommodate the cultural wants of citizens. Take for granted the ban on dog meat. Cordillera and Mountain province people openly butcher and eat dog meat! Dog meat provides a warm feeling for the patron-eaters of cool uplandish climate. Nobody has been apprehended against such law in those areas. Good morals instruct us not to gamble, but on wakes, gambling is open along side with praying for the dead! Doctors tell people that smoking is bad for the health, yet there are many doctors who are nicotine addicts! And many more…

    • I guess if I were going to lose my foreskin, I would prefer a beautiful woman remove it ! I do not want a male to touch my stuff.

  7. William S.

    Supot condition leads to a cheezy condition around the neck of “little johnny.” This cheezy condition will lead to unwanted odor which you would not like to be a part of it. It would be very embarassing to your companion if the odor permeates during very intimate situation…ka diri kuna da!

    Supot condition leaves an unwanted skin at the pheriperal sensitive base area of the “german helmet” which will not give you an ultimate sensation when you are doing the reciprocating motion.

    I had mine administered when I was in high school by a surgeon and I was one of the many who witnessed the physiological changes/stages of “mighty dicky” before the artistic cut was administered…in retrospect, I do not regret it for a job well done. The surgeon did really a great job.

    • Yup, me too, I love mine after the operation. During the healing process, I became more concerned about my personal hygiene and health. When it was not yet cut, I dislike to hold it unless I’m taking a bath because of the stinky cream, yukk! Now, nice ‘peter’ is something to take real good care, hehe…

    • Foob

      This is total rubbish and a laughable excuse
      All u need is a shower
      No problems at all

  8. korydon

    If you go down on a woman, and discover an unusual smell, do you suggest that she undergo genital mutilation, too? Why not the two of you take a shower together, first, and save your genital integrity. Or doesn’t anyone in the Philippines have access to clear, clean water.

    It gets to be rather sad when you start amputating body parts for a lack of water, or for being too lazy to wash now and then.

    • Nice comment you’ve got there, hey! I’ve learned good hygiene early in life enough to know when I need washing as often as I could. My mother taught me that, not from my dad (God bless his soul!) But genital hygiene even on prim and proper ladies could never be done enough as much as possible for a good nice smell, though, due to some constraints; many physical activities, hot weather, being at work, etc. The undies (especially cottons, which I prefer) do well to provide seepage of some unwanted accumulations of body sweat, creamed glans and whatever. With uncut male genitals, the creamy dirt accumulates inside the skin between the glans. With cut skin, the dirt gets into the undies. When you’re out in the hot sunny Philippines, you would know how cruel it is! I could manage only to bask in the showers twice or 3x a day when I’m lazing it out for fun!

      • AAA

        Failed. I am still intact and still I HAD NO ISSUE AT ALL and it’s even better with masturbation. and clean and smell better than a regular vagina which smell fishy if not cleaned properly
        so stop spreading fake propaganda dude. circumcision is a MUTILATION AND IT DEPRAVES the sexual gratification of a man UP TO 75% according to British Urologist society.

    • William S.

      Contrary to your belief that circumcision or subcomcision is not comparable to genital mutilation in any shape or form. Mutilation is the process of making it imperfect by seriously damaging a part. Male circumcision is the process of enhancing its physical status qou to maximize its full potential during main events. This is also to prevent any squalid condition during R&R mode.

      I do not think you are serious comparing amputation with circumcision, and that is the reason why Seven-up was invented for that reason if you are in trouble digging down deep—-try eating a salted egg and wash it down with seven-up, this comparable of drinking your sanmig-light on a hot summer day…keep cool.

  9. long dong boo

    leave that penis alone .
    hands off that little boy !
    let that foreskin grow .
    all those chopped now have foreskin envy and want all others to be mutilated as they are!

    • Tell that to the Jews about their “brit milah”, on their traditional 8-day old boy being circumcised. Jesus himself has undergone circumcision as all Jews regard this as part of their religious heritage. For Pinoys, it is partly a traditional ritual which imbibe a sense of personal hygiene, plus the belief that such minor operation would enhance the manhood of the new young man.

      • The question of personal hygiene is mythical. Even if you are circumcised, if you don’t clean up you’d still stink.

        We need not be enslaved by traditions of no significance. Even gays get circumcised, and they are still, oh, so gay. The manhood factor does not hold water.

        • Yes, sure maestro, gays would still be are gays. But still, a moving skin to skin collects sweat, dirt and grime, while exposed glans on a circumcised penis would be cleaner with a cotton underwear rubbing softly on it while you are on the move. A good reason why women on the move use panty-liners.

          • nice analogy on panty liners, I have never thought about that, hehe

            On another note, Sir asiong, why do you think God created the foreskin for?

            • That’s a nice question. I don’t know. If it is to cover male’s genitals, then why God didn’t make also a skin to cover female’s genitals? But in parallel: the same thing with hairs and nails, why do we cut them? For hygiene’s sake? As you’ve said, it doesn’t hold water too, since we could also wash and clean them even if they are long. It’s just a matter of desire and convenience…

              • Our teachers promote cutting of nails for hygiene’s sake because dirt accumulates inside the nails. The same way that sweat & dirt accumulates between the foreskin and the penis’ glans. Long hairs are a magnet to dirt and sweat so it better to have shorter hairs. It’s not really just a matter of desire and convenience…

                • smartguy

                  Our hair and nails are not alive. That way, we don’t have any problems cutting them. But with the foreskin, it is living tissue and the primary erogenous area on the male body. It has up to 20,000 nerve endings and several feet of blood vessels.

              • smartguy

                Actually, females have a clitoral hood which is the same as the male foreskin. And the male forskin has ways of cleaning itself and keeping safe from bacteria. The “stinky cream” you are are thinking about is smegma. Smegma, which is a greek word for “soap” accumulates in male and female genitals and it contains a powerful anti microbial compound called Langerin. Langerin wards off bacteria and leaves the area clean and free of diseases. I am pretty sure God made the foreskin for a reason and not just to have it cut off.

  10. boorat

    what an awakening!

    if i have the ability to put back the original anatomy of my foreskin, i will do it the soonest…now i realized, as a silent guy… i can be famous among my karruba, being a keeper of foreskin.

    • asiong

      You’re a funny man, boorat! Even if you would be able to put back the foreskin of your manhood, would you want to parade yourself naked to show off that your foreskin is intact in your neighborhood????? We’re in Pinas and it’s forbidden here. Just in case, you may want to go to Amsterdam or France for nudity show-off and see if the other people there appreciates your own thing!!!!

    • William S.

      Hehehe, you will be the talk of the town if you reverse it. At this modern day and age, if the lady you are courting found that foreskin still intact, she will be covering her nose every time you visit….

  11. Ah, the urge to conform. As it is, only intact men are able to experience normal, natural sexual intercourse. Men with mutilated genitals must make do as best they can, poor fellows.

  12. William

    Ohhhh, how dare you to compare a “piece-of-art” to mutilation. This is an insult to the surgeons who will give you all the choices for various cut options to make life state of the ART.

  13. Phillipine women look at Operation Tuli as a very festive affair and most mothers agree that their boys become men at this time. I think the women enjoy helping with the boys.

    • AAA

      women have a foreskin too and it’s called clitoris prepuce why don’t your women cut if off too? because if the male foreskin is dirty then female foreskin is dirty too. beside in Indonesia and Malaysia most of women get circumcised.

  14. Foob

    I have just been to the Phillipines and it truly saddens me and horrifies me the way they treat their boys in this country..The boys are very respectful and are forced to undergo this barbaric procedure..they are held down and forced to be circumcised against their will.They are conditioned to have it performed and are even called Supot if they don’t.
    They should instead be happy and proud to be called Supot. .there are no medical reasons for it..it is just something forced on these defenceless young boys who are treated like cattle with absolutely no privacy and with women laughing and staring at them the whole time..could u imagine the outcry if young girls were laid out on tables for all to see and no privacy and forced to be circumcised..none of the so called benefits of tuli exist..in fact the USA with a high incidence of circumcision is the country with the most UTI’s HIV and infections..Stop the brutality and savagery now…..

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