Going sexy

BY Hans Enverga

WHEN it comes to sexuality, the Europeans are on top, figuratively speaking.

On my recent European tour, I realized so many things regarding how we Filipinos view sexuality-and everything that stems from it. Oftentimes, the topic is discussed in soft whispers. And just as often, with disdain-either pretended or genuine. I know because I share the same cultural paradigms.

In breezy Paris, couples display their fiery affections publicly as if no one else is around. The whole city is witness to its citizens' "expression of love" whether on the banks of the Seine River, inside the shaky and packed metro or beside Versaille's man-made lakes. Even a wall facing the busy street will find some lovers cuddling. Love can really be found in the most unexpected places. And in the "most romantic city in the world," it is everywhere.

Sunny Spain (which was not always sunny when we were there) is no different. But the Spaniards' liberal views on sexuality is manifested differently, if blatantly. In Malaga many women go sun bathing topless, and no one gives a damn- except us curious Filipinos, of course.

In Madrid, a band of gay men was striding Gran Via at around 3 a.m. Two were transvestites, the other two were wearing only polo shirts and nothing else. And to think a cold wind was blowing that morning.

In the house of my Spanish family where I was billetted, two Dutch ladies, a mother and her daughter, occupied one of the rooms. Like me, they were also studying Spanish, but in a different school. Here was the catch: We shared a bathroom located between our rooms.

One morning, I was inside the bathroom urinating, but still in my underwear. I was about to have shower before going to my 9 a.m. class.

The older Dutch lady, who must have been in her 50s, suddenly opened the door, which I had forgotten to lock. When she saw me, she just said, "Okay," without any trace of embarrassment.

It was not the only awkward encounter I had with my Dutch board mates. One morning, the daughter who was probably in her late 20s took a shower and went straight to her room, covering only her front with a white towel. When she saw me and my room mate, she just shrugged and said hello. That night the mother, the daughter and I went to the plaza to have a few drinks.

One time after dinner, I told the two Dutch ladies that I wished I were like them. "At least, you don't have to argue with the Pope," I said after they told me "living-in" was a very common practice in their country. If a couple wanted the security of marriage, the notary public would sign the necessary documents.

I told them that in the Philippines, a couple who decides to live in becomes the talk of the town.

They said Filipinos are traditional.

Which brings me to the point I want to make. Majority of us Filipinos have a long way to go when it comes to sexuality. My views on sexuality can hardly be called traditional, like my grandfather's. I've always thought I'm liberal. However, compared to Europeans I am a conservative.

But then consider this: How many of our country's youth study in Catholic schools, which dictate the norms to be followed by students? In addition, these Catholic schools teach sexuality in conjunction with theology. I am afraid this explains our sexual repression.

French children learn to sing, "One, two, three, turn to the right... blah-blah hold my sex." (Sorry, I have forgotten the lyrics.) I heard a 7-year-old boy sing the song in front of his father, and the latter enjoyed it. No theological lessons were coming from him.

It is both funny and sad that when we Filipinos talk about sex and sex organs, we use English terms. For instance an ad for a feminine wash tries to explain that the external genitalia is different from the vagina, but it doesn't use the Filipino word for vagina. Even among peers, it is considered more proper to use such terms for sex as "love-making" or "nag-do-do" or "nagaanuhan."

I am not saying that we should be like the Europeans totally. Of course, we Filipinos come from a different place and we have a different perspective and a different culture. But their liberalism on matters pertaining to sexuality seems to be working for them. Who knows, it might work for us too?

I have noticed that in France and Spain, having beso-beso during the first meeting is normal. Here the sexual divide is still very much in evidence. No touch is the rule, lest it be construed wrongly.

Some 6,000 miles from where I was born, nothing seems to shock people anymore. I'm the one who is shocked as pornographic magazines are one display in almost all newsstands, breasts are bare in advertisements lining the walls of the metro stations, Benetton condoms (yes, Benetton) are sold in vending machines placed inside public toilets. Both in Paris and Madrid, sex shops include a wide array of specialty stores. Porn videos can also be accessed on television. One just has to use a credit card to view an erotic flick.

It really seems as if these people are very horny. But their population growth rate is approximately zero to one percent. And what is the population growth rate of the "sexually repressed" Filipinos? Over 2 percent.

When I made a short presentation in Spanish about the Philippines, a German student expressed surprise when I said that Filipinos number almost 80 million. Germany's population is less than that, and France's is even lower. But France and Germany are way much bigger than the Philippines! I told him this was one reason why our country was as poor as a rat.

Maybe a sexual revolution can help bring down our runaway population growth.

Hans Enverga, 21, is a senior AB Interdisciplinary Studies student at the Ateneo de Manila University.

11/11/2003

Bron : Inq7.net

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