Archive for the ‘citizenship’ Category

“To make a man and prepare him as a good citizen” in a Bicol town, circumcision is required

January 24, 2009

In Camarines Norte, there was laughter during the deliberations of the “Tunay na Ulirang Lalake Ordinance” aka TULI or Real Model of Manhood Ordinance.

The piece of legislation was on its second deliberation to make male circumcision in that place mandatory. It was uncertain whether those considering the ordinance were serious or just joking.

According to its author, Provincial Board Member Joeffrey B. Pandi, the circumcision law is important “to enhance the physical well being of a boy or pre-teen, preparing him for early manhood and as a good citizen of his community.”


There is practically no dissenting opinion against Pandi’s odd proposal. The ready acceptance is a reflection of how we regard circumcision today. Many of us still adhere to the old tribal idea that the surgical removal of the prepuce covering the glans penis is a passage to manhood. Without acrimony, we accept a parochial belief that the uncircumcised deserves to be a butt of jokes, short to being a subject of continual humiliation. In our town, to be uncircumcised is to be identified as “half a man.” As a result, many children grow up in trepidation, believing the myth which their families and friends hand down to them.

Our society to this day still exerts strong pressure against being “supot” (uncircumcised) even if it infringes on our freedom to decide on what to do with our bodies. The TULI ordinance perpetuates myths, indirectly encourages intolerance, and curtails our right of choice even if we fail to see it that way.

How will the law be enforced? What punishments will the lawbreakers get? Who will pay for the procedure? Are we ready for the physical and psychological complications which go with surgery?

There are many conflicting justifications for or against the penile operation. An ordinance to force boys to have the procedure disregards the contrary arguments against it. The minor cutaneous surgery comes not without risks; complications like bleeding, tetanus, infections among others do occur in circumcision. Fortunately, the risks are minor compared to the benefit of keeping genital cleanliness (hygiene,) the usual valid reason for the operation.

It has been argued that circumcision lessens the incidence of HIV, HPV (warts,) and penile cancers. The skin removal is part of the religious traditions of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Upon the introduction of the “germ theory” at the turn of the 20th century, the Western World adopted circumcision to keep infections away. Primitive tribes in the Africa and the Pacific, consider it an important cultural milestone towards manhood.

So we know the myriad reasons why most of us agree to circumcision. We consider factors like hygiene, medical reasons, religious beliefs, cultural norms, and individual choice in our decisions. A personal matter which causes no harm on others, the minor tampering of our sexual organs is OK. It goes without saying that going against it is also OK.

But the lawmakers of Camarines Norte might be half-serious. The TULI ordinance unwittingly undercuts our basic liberty to choose. Although it appears, the ordinance gets easy support from the community, I don’t think the “funny” ordinance will benefit us in the long haul. Photo Credits: The Passing Strange; Snaphappy4)=0=


9 simple resolutions for the new year

January 3, 2009

It’s quite hard to make resolutions and end up successful along the course of the year. Yet, experts say there are some simple things which we can do that can impact our lives positively without much commitment. Many of the them do not cost a fortune or need a lot of time. Here are some things we can consider at the start of 2009:

1. Exercise and Food: Long life, emotional stability, and health are closely tied with doing exercise and eating proper food. Studies show that simple brisk walking (less than 30 minutes a day,) can improve heart function and help prolong life. Avoidance of fatty and salty food is key in preventing early-onset heart problems and stroke. Regular visits to our doctor can save us from preventable diseases and spare us from costly treatments in the hospital.

2. Save Cash: The news of a global meltdown spook all of us. We don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been affected by the economic crisis that sweeps across all social classes. Cutting down on unnecessary trips, avoiding eat-outs in restaurants, using public transport can save us a lot of money. Home cooked food brought at work can spare some cash to pay for essential house utilities like the electric or water bill.

3. Support the Environment: Proper disposal of waste, recycling, and avoiding the use of environmental pollutants are important in preserving the planet’s resources. With our dwindling natural resources and the rapid increase in population, more are required on us to bequeath a better world for the next generation.

4. Try Gardening: Unused open spaces at home can be a made into vegetable plots or community gardens. Planted camote gives us nutritious leaves; sweet roots we can harvest in 4 to 5 months. Ginger, scallion and onions on a pot produce a year-long supply of condiments for the home kitchen.

5. Read a Book: Everybody knows knowledge is power. One of the easiest ways to advance our education is to read regularly. A book opens an exciting door to a world that enriches our lives and benefits society. A newspaper keeps us abreast with the events that affect us.

6. Reach Out: There are dividends to be gained when one sets out to reach friends, neighbors, and business associates. A habit of saying hello and expressing thanks bring closeness and cheer to the people we live with.

7. Volunteer: Extra time and space need not be wasted. Volunteering in a church, day-care, hospital, prison or school for a day or two in a year can appreciably help improve our sense of belonging. A volunteer job can be arranged in honor of a friend, to remember a dead relative or to celebrate an anniversary or birthday.

8. Clean Up and Remove Clutter: Our homes have the tendency to accumulate dust and things we don’t need. To make things easy and light, we need to rid our place of things we don’t use. Old clothes, we can give to the poor neighbor or to charity. Regular house cleaning brings a happy spark in our homes and a healthy look of our surroundings.

9. Be a Concerned Citizen: As our civic duty we need to know what goes on in our village. One way to help is to join groups who work for the community. Writing the mayor, councilor or government official on a specific concern is a way to address a problem in our communities. Sitting with them on an issue can help thresh out ways to improve our society. (Photo Credit: