Filipina Gal: To Sex or Not to Sex

Tap. Tap. Tap

Nails drumming on hard plastic. Pens scratching away on pristine white notebooks. Bright afternoon sunshine filtering in through the windows, generating dust bunnies and lazy, half-attention on the professor’s core material. Soft moans and harsh grunts and flesh slapping against flesh on the teacher’s table…

Wait, what?!

I blinked, my professor’s loud tenor breaking my stupor and interrupting the impromptu porn movie that popped into my head. I looked around to check whether people noticed my blush accompanied by the silly, guilty grin that threatened to escape. Alright, clear. I can go back to fantasizing.

I once heard that men think about sex more that women do. Well, I don’t know how true that is, but I know I think about sex. A LOT. And in this modern era, when women who are openly sexually active are becoming more and more accepted in the western world, this isn’t really a big deal.

That is, except when you’re a good girl from the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia, the Philippines.

And I don’t think about just actual sex, but also the implications of how sex is considered in our Filipino society. Growing up, I realized that I didn’t have ‘normal’ parents like everybody else probably did – normal in the sense that they consider topics such as sex taboo. So my siblings and I were reared in a relatively liberal environment (in terms of love, sex, and free-flowing condoms), and when we attended Catholic high schools, we were in for a shock.

To start off, let me say something about the ‘acceptable’ courtship scene I found myself in, maybe even in the Philippines in general! Boy and girl notice each other across the hallway, the cafeteria, the library. Eyes may shyly meet, and wham! Melodrama galore, sometimes it’s love at the first guy we see just outside the little space between the gendered bathrooms. But nuh-uh, sister, we can’t start the conversation! The guy’s gotta be the one to do the heavy-lifting, so the girls find ways to maneuver them into situations wherein they ask for the girl’s number (or, for bolder girls, the guy’s number). Don’t worry; those long hours of practice stalking on Facebook do come in handy at these critical moments. Then, there’s a long period of overt staring matches and non-stop 24/7 text-messaging (hey, there’s a reason unlimited texting for Php 10 or about $.25 is a daily must-have), which lasts between three months to six months or, god-forbid, longer. Couples usually start hanging out in their school/work area during this period, but every so often, they pretend to be all innocent and sweet and call each other ‘best friends’. Dates are often really reserved for transitioning between the ‘beshie’ episode and the ‘bf/gf’ stage. Though this is changing, it’s still usually a no-no to just go out with somebody without first exchanging a couple of, ‘so, your family’s into what business, again?’ sorts of messages. Even then, sex doesn’t really enter the equation until several months, goodness, even year(s) later.

Eyeroll, yes – slow is the name of the Philippine dating game, and, boy, it is a big part of our pre-sex life.
Now, before you take me to court for libel, I’m not claiming this is the actual structure, but you get what I mean – it’s very conservative, particularly if we want to remain in the good graces of family.
What more for sex?!

Students get the down-lows on (if you ask me, irrelevant) stuff like Technology and Livelihood Education or TLE instead of juicy sex education, unlike places in the west like the U.S. In this arena, bad rep girls were often those who had sex with their boyfriends in high school. I think even for more mature players, the dating and sex playground can still be extremely limited and limiting – such is the case with the Reproductive Health Bill. The RH Bill being put forward for approval in the Congress, which primarily aims to inform people about their family planning options – even just to tell them that, yes, there’s such a magical thing as a penis glove that you can use and you and your significant other can make the ‘beast-with-two-backs’ all you want – was and is still being debated hotly. Problem upon problem piles up – here we find ourselves in a tangled situation without a lot of information. What happens?

Duh, do dogs chase cats?! There are a whole lot of us who are very ‘ahem’ discreet about their activities, but not in terms of being responsible sexually – resulta es muchos problemas in the form of little bundles of joy (or untimely horror, depending on your – or your parents’ – point of view) popping up like daisies.

Dilemma: reconciling the sexual requirements of the Filipinos with the ideals our faith holds dear. Clearly, we are a very passionate people – all crammed in our tiny 300,000 km², way smaller than 1/10 of the U.S. land mass , we did get to a population of more than 92 million. Yes, even though most attended Sunday mass and got preached on about the horrors of promiscuity. I believe it doesn’t mean changing beliefs – it just means adapting to and considering the body’s biological and social needs. Faith lies primarily in and with God – he loved us and created our bodies as they should be, so why all the sneaking around with something as natural as sex? Shed those coats of ‘pretentious’ virtuousness, and embrace the light of tolerance, acceptance (and consideration of our booming overpopulation).

It may seem like information overload, but in a nutshell, those are my thoughts about sex. And know that if you are a Filipina who thinks too much about sex, you are not alone.

Warning: Be cautious of day-dreaming about sex during class/office hours. It is not advisable.