At a Glance |
Breaking News |
Editorial & Opinion |
World News |
Boys of summer
grit, bear it
Rites of passage for boys who would be men are performed at
the Jose Memorial Hospital for free. JOHNNY VILLENA
Posted: 2:27 AM (Manila Time) | Apr. 16,
By Cathy C. Yamsuan
Inquirer News Service
LIKE big, brave men.
Yet, rare is the
boy who rejects this tradition. The exceptions would have to face
the insults of those who went through the test.
A traditional summer rite for Filipino boys who are at least 10
years old also tests their capacity for courage and their readiness
Circumcision is extremely painful, especially if anesthesia is not
used like in the rural areas where the procedure is usually done by
the riverbank. The male organ is sensitive and has many nerve endings.
It often takes one week before the wound of circumcision heals.
Circumcision is done to better maintain the cleanliness of the male
But is it necessary? There are millions of uncircumcised men the world
over who are alive, well and are the embodiment of maleness.
According to Dr. Ronaldo Veneracion, a urologist at the Jose Reyes
Memorial Hospital, the chances of a man having penile cancer or cancer
of the penis are reduced if he undergoes circumcision.
Dr. Pacita Airoso-Tan, a pediatrician at the United Doctors Medical
Center, thinks otherwise.
According to Tan, circumcision of newly born baby boys became a routine
because of the belief that uncircumcised men are more prone to penile
"It has long been proven that this belief is false. Which is why circumcision
on a new born is only done if the opening for urine is too small so
that they won't be prone to urinary tract infection (UTI)," she said.
Tan also observed that peer pressure is the more frequent cause for
boys to undergo circumcision. "They don't want to be teased as 'supot.'"
Often the cultural factor has a stronger pull-what we have grown up
with-rather than health reasons," Tan added.
The connection between the dirt that accumulates in the male organ
and penile cancer is not clear. But according to Veneracion, many
medical journals have published findings that cancer of the penis
occurs more frequently in uncircumcised men.
It is possible, he says, that not fully cleaning the male organ has
something to do with this type of cancer. In fact, a 17-year-old patient
was confined at the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Hospital for cancer of
the penis. Yes, the teener was uncircumcised.
"We could not do anything but amputate the organ because the cancer
had spread through the whole shaft of the penis," Veneracion said.
But a little boy scheduled for his rite of passage this summer isn't
thinking of a disease that could hit him when he grows up to a be
full-grown man. He's thinking about the gang, about the fun they'll
have talking and snickering about it and feeling like a big, brave