It’s now summer time here in the Philippines and at this certain period of the year it does not only mean Holy Week and endless bonding of family and friends at the beach. It is pure and simple Tuli (Circumcision) Time! We scheduled my son’s circumcision, who is turning 9 this November, on the 2nd week of April since it’s already school break, too. I accompanied him to the doctor’s office where the minor surgery was made and despite the anesthesia administered to him I still felt the great pain that my son had to endure all throughout the procedure.
While circumcision may be highly accepted and practiced here in the Philippines I was taken aback when I discovered that it is not entirely the case with some Western nations. According to Wikipedia there are some countries who oppose it because it is considered as a pagan ritual while there are also religious denominations who require men to be circumcised in order to become its members. Clearly it is not only considered as a medical practice but it also has cultural and religious significance for various races and ethnicities.
However, it is entirely good to know that the procedure can protect our children from the havocs of cancer specifically cancer of the cervix and the pelvis. It can also protect the male species from the dangers of HIV. While it is already a widespread practice in the US as well as in Canada to circumcise boys during infancy or shortly after they were born it is quite entirely different here in the Philippines. Most of the boys are required to undergo the procedure in their pre-teen years, specifically during the ages of 11 or 12 years old. Although it is of the parents’ precaution to have their sons circumcised at an earlier age, such as with our case, the pre-teen years are supposed to be the more ideal one. According to the doctor who did the surgery to my son, it is better for boys to be circumcised during such a pre-teen age because by that time the kids are already more able to take care of themselves and can handle the pain more tolerably.
For several years now an annual Operation Tuli happens in any particular barangay or community here in the Philippines. I consider it as a positive thing because it has become a highly acceptable routine for parents with pre-teen boys to voluntarily bring the kids to the health center or to a specific venue where Operation Tuli is being held. I think it has also increased the people’s awareness with regard to this very basic procedure for men which has been rightfully termed as a rite to passage and a rite to manhood.
A nephew of mine was also circumcised along with my son and he was 11 years old. He has been pestering my sister, his mother, with regard to the circumcision thing as early as February. When I learned about his constant pestering a few weeks before their circumcision I asked him why was he so “makulit” (nagger) about it at all. He pulled me aside and with not much ado whispered into my ears, “ Tata,( his monicker for Tita which means auntie) gusto na nako magpatuli ba! (I really wanted to be circumcised already!) Kay ako ray ginakantiyawan sa akoang mga classmates kada mag-ihi ko sa CR! ( Because I have been the butt of my classmates’ jokes everytime I pee in the CR! ) SO!! That was actually his primary concern, straight from my nephew’s mouth. A rather innocent statement but something that is really BIG DEAL for him all along.