BAGUIO, Philippines – Black Saturday, observed this year on March 31, is the traditional time when young men undergo that rite of passage known as pagtutuli (circumcision).
In the provinces, these young men would gather along the riverbanks or seashore, masticate guava leaves and fall in line as a man wielding a labaha (razor) would cut the foreskin of the sexual organ. Then the boys would spit the guava on their penises and bathe on the river or sea.
In the cities, barangays or health centers would organize their circumcision programs on Black Saturday with the surgical procedure done by nurses or doctors.
All Filipinos are expected to go through circumcision as those who refuse to do so would be stigmatized and ridiculed by their peers.
A 2002 study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, penned by Dr Xavier Castellsague et al, stated that 93% of all Filipino men were circumcised with 42% of them having undergone the procedure before they were 10 years old, and 52% from 10 to 14 years old.
While the tradition remains strong in the country, there are some who have opted to seek a reversal of their circumcision.
Philippine urologist Ulysses Quanico, during a recent forum organized by Forum on Family Planning and Development in Cebu, said that he had patients who availed of "uncircumcision" or foreskin restoration.
Foreskin restoration involves recreating the skin on the penis that had been lost to circumcision or injury. Quanico said that he had performed foreskin restoration on at least two of his patients.
Quanico, who is an officer of Health Information Network, did not specify his patients' reasons for foreskin restoration, but said the most common reason cited is an uncomfortable erection.
Quanico also said that common penile restoration procedures he did among Filipinos were taking out bolitas or penile implants.
Bolitas are traditionally made of ivory, jade, or metal balls but some Filipinos have experimented on plastic bolitas by melting spoons, toothbrushes, deodorant ballers and even rosary beads.
Unsanitary placement of bolitas could cause infection, inflammation or worse on the male organ, Quanico said.
While foreskin restoration is not widely availed of in the Philippines, the procedure is said to be as old as the practice of circumcision. – Rappler.com