SEX IN THE PHILIPPINES

SEX IN THE PHILIPPINES

A survey by Time magazine in 2001 asked Filipino if premarital sex is okay: 56 percent of males and 39 percent of females said yes. When asked how many sexual partners they had had: 28 percent of males and 76 percent of females said one; 47 percent of males and 23 percent of females said two to four; 17 percent of males and 2 percent of females said five to 12; and 8 percent of males and 0 percent of females said more than 13.

In the 2001 Time sex survey 82 percent of males and 11 percent of females said they were the ones who initiated sex; 69 percent of males and 48 percent of females said they had had oral sex; and 55 percent of males and 68 percent of females said they thought they were sexy.

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “The peoples of the Philippine archipelago, both indigenous and immigrant, Muslim, Christian, and other, reflect the cultural attitudes and behavior of their mixed Malaysian and Chinese ancestries. There are also wide variations because of the sociocultural and linguistic mix. However, the dominant Catholic Church, the legislative body, and the educational system are essentially an amalgam of the old Hispanic dogma and the modern Western flavor with the present public sexual morality reflecting the values of these enduring institutions. |~|

Pregnant Man and Weird Sex Stories from the Philippines

In 2001, a devout Christian Filipino man believed his penis was driving him to sin. In a fit of religious fervor he sliced it off with a machete. Doctors were able to reattach it but it was 20 percent shorter than it was before.

A story about a Filipino man pregnant made headlines around the world in 1992 but was later revealed to be a hoax. Malepregnancy.com reported: “Malaybalay, Philippines, June 8, 1992: A Filipino male nurse who captured world attention by claiming to be six months pregnant is a fake, his doctor said today. Dr Clarita Paggao said Edwin Bayron, also known as Carlo, a 32 year old homosexual nurse who has since disappeared, fooled her and other doctors by concocting details of his medical history. He was never given a complete physical examination until last week when he was revealed as a fraud. He hoodwinked medical staff, lawyers and journalists by claiming that he was a hermaphrodite, born with both male and female sexual organs, who later had an operation to make him a woman. [Source: .malepregnancy.com]

“Philippine Health Secretary Antonio Periquet had even offered to cover all expenses for the birth. "He has fooled all of us for reasons he alone can explain," said Paggao, chief gynecologist at the Bukidnon provincial hospital in the southern Philippines where Bayron worked. "That is why I want to see him again, and to undress him in public so that the whole world will know that he is a fake." Paggao and provincial health officials had earlier said Bayron was pregnant, based on an ultra sound scan and two urine tests. Interviewed on May 27 Paggao had said she had felt a fetus kicking inside Bayron's swollen stomach, and that the ultra-sound scan showed it was a boy. The elaborate hoax was apparently hatched to support Bayron's court application for a legal change of name and sex so that he could marry his Army officer lover. [Ibid]

A number of Bobbitt-like stories about cut off penises have emerged from the Philippines. In 2008, Kristine L. Alave wrote in Philippine Daily Inquirer, “For Joelito Bayabado, the good times may be over. Bayabado, 32, a Pasig City traffic enforcer, was rushed to the hospital before dawn yesterday after his wife Lenly cut off his penis in a jealous rage. PO2 Rolly Lipata of the Pasig City police said the incident occurred around 1:30 a.m. in the bedroom of the couple’s house. Doctors worked for hours to reattach the cut portion. Lenly, the police said, had long suspected her husband of infidelity. When the opportunity came early yesterday morning, she cut off her husband’s organ with a knife. [Source: Kristine L. Alave, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 10, 2008 /=/]

“Bayabado was rushed to the Rizal Medical Center by his relatives. A hospital employee said the victim begged the doctors to reattach his penis. Police said Bayabado would not sue his wife for the sake of the family. The couple has four children. This is not the first incident of mutilation by an aggrieved wife. Perhaps the most well-known case is that of John Wayne Bobbitt, an American, whose penis was cut off by his wife Lorena in 1993. His organ was reattached after an operation. /=/

“Several Filipino women have “done a Bobbitt” over the years. In 1995, Eufrociña Pader of Quezon City cut off the penis of her lover Celestino Baris after he said he wanted to return to his wife. The following year, Sally Guerrero of Pateros nearly castrated her partner Dennis San Pedro for seeing another woman. Doctors were able to reattach his organ. San Pedro eventually pardoned Guerrero, with whom he has a daughter. /=/

Concepts of Sexuality and Love in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Virginity is no longer a universally expected prerequisite for the marriage covenant. The 1994 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey (YAFSS) of 11,000 young people, ages 15 to 24 years, conducted by Dr. Z. C. Zablan, professor of demography at the Population Institute of the University of the Philippines, revealed that 18 percent of Filipino youths approved premarital sex, 80 percent disapproved, and 2 percent were neutral. Today, sexual attitudes are more liberal and accepting of radical changes in sexuality and love because of the influences of the media and global communications. The same YAFSS survey showed that a large number of female college graduates residing in urban areas (35 percent) were exercising their liberal roles, both in their personal and professional lives with flexible sexual attitudes, while 40 percent were more likely to employ contraception. Filipinas in all classes are trying to balance their responsibility as mothers and lovers with some real class distinctions. The mothering role of the middle- and upper-class Filipinas is often supported by housemaids, professional babysitters, and grandmothers. In general, sophisticated, well-educated Filipinas are more comfortable than older women in taking the initiative in foreplay and learning new erotic techniques to introduce a variety of sexual techniques in their sexual lives. Also, these younger middle- and upper-class wives try to increase both the depth and scope in the emotional and intellectual communications within the couple. On the other hand, the 65 percent of Filipinas who live in the rural areas are less educated, more conservative in their sexual lifestyles, less likely to use contraception, and less independent in their personal lives. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

The Philippines enjoys the benefits of a young population, with 37.6 percent under age 15 and 47 percent between the ages of 15 and 49 years. There are also more women than men, with the surplus women finding support as maids or “nannies.” The Latino tradition of single women serving as surrogate mothers for infertile wives is morally and legally unacceptable in the Philippines. For some males, especially in the rural areas and in minority groups, it is often difficult to internalize the impact of the women’s liberation movement both in their sexual and professional lifestyles. In my observation, most well-educated males, especially urban dwellers, are starting to perceive that they enrich the relationship by participating in the rearing and education of their children, and the sharing of two incomes are beneficial to the family. The sophisticated professional men are also learning to relax during lovemaking, enjoying alternating passive and active roles, and accepting the fact that they can also be seduced and excited. |~|

The majority of the Filipino urban population today is clearly Westernized, but still very conservative in its public and legal sexual values. Because of the dominant and pervasive influence of the Catholic Church, the only sexual behavior considered legal and moral is heterosexual intercourse within a monogamous marriage. Every other imaginable sexual variation is explicitly condemned. Thus, prostitution, pornography (nudity), polygamy (except in some minority groups and the Muslim south), premarital and extramarital sex, cohabitation, homosexuality, and other variant sexual behavior are all illegal. However, quiet homosexuality and heterosexual cohabitation seem to be more socially acceptable today, especially when they involve celebrities and politicians. |~|

Religious Factors Affecting Sexuality in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “The influence of the Roman Catholic Church was and still is hegemonic over ninety percent of the Filipino population. Throughout Filipino history, the political powers have been submissive to the Catholic Church. The Church is determined to maintain its hold on important aspects of civil life, such as education, the availability of contraception and abortion, and even the registration of major events in the lives of the people like births, marriages, child adoptions, and deaths. A very conservative interpretation of Catholic decrees about sexuality and marriage have been inscribed in the minds of the Filipino people, in a way that has proven difficult to alter or delete. Outstanding among these are the Church’s views on the social roles of males and females, its insistence that any form of masturbation or premarital intercourse is sinful, and condemnation of homosexuality as unnatural behavior. The Church also places great emphasis on virginity as a prerequisite for matrimony, citing the example of the Virgin Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus Christ, who conceived her son without the need of sexual intercourse or a biological father. This sexual innocence and purity is clearly symbolized in the white clothing worn at baptisms, first communions, confirmations, and weddings. Catholicism also offers young men and women a celibate life that is supposedly more spiritual and rewarding in the priesthood and religious life. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

The socioreligious education of women in traditional Catholic Filipino society encourages them to play the “cat and mouse” game. Young women are expected to develop social strategies that produce maximum enticement and individual satisfaction. This continual erotic stimulation and the hyper value of masculinity drives young men into the “courting game,” leading hopefully to marriages. A young woman’s ability to employ her virginity as a “bargaining tool” makes males inevitably impatient. The young male is then caught in an expensive web of socially productive and profitable engagements associated with courtship that resolves itself in betrothal to the young woman and “marrying” her, coupled with the expense of building his masculine image and sexual experience with prostitutes. |~|

Some tribal customs allow sexual activity as early as puberty, comparing this early exploration with sweet and tender young bamboo shoots. On the other hand, the expectation of virginity - the absence of penile/vaginal intercourse - with the assumed “tight vaginal entrance” - as “tight” like the nodes of an adult bamboo stalk - is favored for marriage. |~|

American settlers brought Protestantism to the Philippines after 1898. The sexuality attitudes of both old and new Protestant tenets are based on the basic Judeo-Christian doctrines. However, two off-shoots of the Protestant tradition are homegrown: one established in 1902 by the Aglipay family, the Filipino Independent Church, and the other in 1914 by the Manalo family, Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ). These two Filipino Protestant churches have sexuality restrictions similar to the basic Judeo-Christian principles, but each has added rules imposed by personal preferences from their Filipino religious founders. |~|

Ethnic Factors Affecting Sexuality in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality:”Before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521, the Philippine islands were inhabited by fierce, indomitable tribes that valued their freedom and had learned to survive by adapting to the climate and resources of the different islands (regions) of the archipelago. It is believed that the chain of islands was a geological product resulting from volcanic eruptions from coastal/mainland China. However, the aborigines came by land and/or ice bridges from the Malayan peninsula. The indigenous people were mostly nomads who fished and hunted wild game. But the “hill people,” the Ifugaos, who settled mainly in the north central part of the country about 1,000 years ago, developed and retain to this day unique sexual and marital ethnic values along with advanced engineering land cultivation. For instance, some tribal customs consider breast size and prominence of the hips to be financial assets that equate to the value or size of the dowry; large breasts and wide hips in the prospective bride would make a dowry of a few pigs or chickens unacceptable. The Rice Terraces of the “hill people” are considered one of the wonders of the world still existing today. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

When the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, founded by Spain, discovered the Philippines in April 1521, he accidentally landed in the central part of the island country called Limasawa. Literally, “Lima” means five and “asawa” means wife. Limasawa, then, translates into “five wives.” Magellan noticed that the natives were practicing polygamy. Most of the men have five or more wives. He did not realize that polygamy was a common marital ethnic norm in most of the indigenous tribes throughout the whole archipelago. |~|

During the tenth century, China was trading regularly with different Philippine tribal clans led by a merchant known as Limajong, who introduced monogamy. The arrival of Chinese traders resulted in about 10 percent of intermarriages with the indigenous peoples. There was also a great variety in the way religious values and sexual customs developed in different ethnic groups and tribal traditions. For example, Islam takes on a slightly different expression among its many followers in the southern part of the country where ethnic plural marriages occur. Most of the ethnic minorities-Negritos, Aetas, Ifugaos, and Igorots of the north-practiced monogamy. The sexual values of these ethnic minorities often allow marriage by the age of puberty, about age 13 or 14 years for girls and age 15 and 16 for boys. |~|

On the other hand, Catholicism introduced to the islands by colonial Spain in 1521, considers males not mature or ready for marriage until age 20 or 21 years, and girls only at age 18 or 19. Masturbation is prohibited by the Church as sinful, “dirty,” immature, narcissistic, and unnatural. In the recent years, the traditional awareness of and opportunities for sexual initiation among adolescents have been relaxed, with male sexual exploits provided by an abundance of social opportunities, including birthday and college fraternity parties, community celebrations (fiestas), and public dances, which generally encourage sensual and erotic relationships. |~|

Philippines to get own Playboy, but no nudes

The last Playboy Club, in Manila, was closed in 1991. In 2008, the Philippines got its own version of Playboy magazine. AFP reported: “The Philippines will get its own edition of Playboy magazine - only without the nudity that made the US version famous, the editor-in-chief of the local edition said. The Philippine edition will be launched on April 2 as a 'mature lifestyle magazine,' said veteran journalist Beting Laygo Dolor. While the magazine will offer pictorials of beautiful women, it will not include nudity. 'It will be tamer than the US edition but not as tame as the Indonesian edition,' Mr Lagyo Dolor said in a television interview. [Source: AFP, March 27, 2008 :::]

“He said it would be aimed at a more mature, affluent readership than 'lad magazines' such as FHM and Maxim which already have Philippine editions. It will be the 25th international edition of the US-based magazine which was launched more than 50 years ago. :::

“The local edition will have serious articles and fiction by some of the country's best-known writers but will also include such staples as a 'playmate of the month,' Mr Lagyo Dolor said Movies and publications showing nudity have run into strong opposition in the conservative, largely Roman Catholic Philippines with watchdog groups sometimes filing criminal charges against those who distribute such materials.” :::

Filipino Couples Set World Kissing Record

In 2007, Fox News reported: “More than 6,000 Philippine couples kissed simultaneously in a Manila parking lot at midnight Saturday, and organizers of what was called the "Lovapalooza" event said they had set a world record. "More than 6,000 this time, we broke the record," shouted Howard Benson, one of the organizers, as fireworks went off and confetti and heart-shaped red balloons filled the air. [Source: Fox News, February 11, 2007 |::|]

“A total of 6,124 couples kissed simultaneously for at least 10 seconds in a parking lot outside a Manila shopping mall, said Albert Almendralejo, producer of Lovapalooza. A team of independent auditors were present to verify the number of people taking part in the event. The current record is held by 5,875 couples kissing at an event organized at the Elisabeth Bridge in Budapest, Hungary on June 25, 2005. |::|

“The thousands of mostly young men and women had gathered in the early evening at the mall on Manila Bay and had danced and listened to music until midnight. After a countdown broadcast on loudspeakers posted all around the area, they kissed exactly at midnight. "It has brought us closer together, we are proud of breaking the record," said Jade Lynn Grados, a young woman who, like her boyfriend, was dressed in a red shirt for the event.” |::|

In 2009, at the beginning of the swine flu epidemic, AFP reported: “Health authorities here on Monday urged people to avoid hugging and kissing at public gatherings due to worries about a possible global pandemic of the deadly swine flu virus. The head of the Philippine health department's national epidemiology centre, Eric Tayag, said it was increasing monitoring of arrivals at airports and urged people to limit physical contact in public. "Avoid touching, kissing, and hugging," Tayag said. [Source: Agence France-Presse, April 27, 2009]

Sex Among Adolescents in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “In Filipino society today, it is not unusual for preteenage boys to engage in exploratory “sex” games with other boys and girls. Such exploratory play allows the child to reassure him/herself of the normality of his or her body. This kind of childhood sexual rehearsal games was more common in the past and in rural areas, when violence and drugs were not as devastating as they are now in the urban areas. In some cases, boys would observe couples kissing and hugging in the park. Occasionally, they sit in the balconies of movie theaters where couples are engaging in heavy petting. In the rural areas and barrios, boys commonly compare their bodies with a friend, relative, or schoolmates. Generally speaking, parents and other adults have a mildly negative response when they discover child sexual play, ranging from warnings to spankings.[Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

“Our knowledge of the sexual attitudes and behaviors of the Filipino youth is limited to a very few anecdotal reports, most of which deal with middleand upper-class urban teenagers rather than the rural poor and urban street children. In this very limited context, my personal experience was the basis of my premedical school thesis on “First Night Sexual Experience of Young Boys - 1968.” This study consisted of personal interviews with 80 adolescents in the rural areas of Cebu during social dances and summer festivals. The majority of these teenagers were interested in obtaining information regarding nocturnal emissions, love, sexual intercourse, and, for women, contraception and pregnancy. Most of the males’ ideas on sexuality were derived from older boys, brothers, and their uncles. On the other hand, the girls were too timid or shy to answer the sexuality questions. |~|

“During the author’s return visit to the Philippines in July 1995 as an invited speaker at a college sociocultural conference, he arranged an impromptu meeting with middle and high school students, grades seven through ten. They informed me that most of their teachers believed that they were too young to hear about sex education. The teachers did not allow questions from their students during the lecture on “family education.” Most instructors were too insecure and embarrassed, and so were unable to facilitate any in-depth dialogue. In Catholic Filipino society, the Christian dogma still has a strong influence on the teachers’ moral and religious values, so that, despite the presence of a government-mandated educational climate, sexuality remains taboo in public discussion. Unfortunately, these teenagers were afraid to elaborate further, confessing only that it is attitudes like this, repeated in their conservative homes, that make them view society and family cynically. |~|

“In Christian colleges and universities, being pregnant out of wedlock can result in expulsion. In most public non-sectarian universities, sex education is still mostly non-existent except for those basic biological courses and family planning programs mandated by the government in 1972. However, in the largest government-run university, the University of the Philippines, sex education courses are more in-depth and liberal, because of the sophistication of the instructors and department heads who are Westernized and comfortable with controversial and sensitive ideas. |~|

“Although still limited, some might say elementary, sexuality courses in most urban medical schools are generally open to updating because of the infusion of new ideas from visiting professors and experts in periodic international forums and conferences. The best medical school students can graduate as doctors at the young age of 23, a factor that makes their communications with patients about sexual issues difficult at best.” |~|

Premarital Sex in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: Sexual attitudes and behavior differ from one group of Filipino youth to another, depending on their social class, educational level, and place of residence. In metropolitan and large cities, Manila, Quezon, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Dumaquete, and Zamboanga, adolescents and young adults are exposed to the cosmopolitan life and consequently receive more information on sex and sexuality. They are also freer to experience numerous options than are less educated youths. Youth in small towns have narrower and more restricted ideas on sexuality, because of the family’s and Church’s strong control and influence. Furthermore, youngsters in big cities have easy access to adult magazines and entertainment, in which sexuality is openly discussed or shown, even though their parents and the Church try to hide such information from them. The majority of urban youth knows about contraceptives and can acquire these from pharmacies or from friends without problems. Despite the guilt and shame associated with sex, middle- and upper-class urban youth often engage in sexual contacts with girlfriends, household maids, and even prostitutes. For the youths of the poverty belts around the big cities, the situation is compounded by the lack of money and self-control. Even if they would prefer to use a contraceptive, they cannot afford them and there are no places where they can get them free. Oral contraceptives are only given free to married women for family planning purposes by government-run city and municipal health clinics. Although condoms were distributed freely in public high schools in the early 1990s on a mandate from the Secretary of Health as part of an STD and HIV prevention program, this practice was later discontinued because of a public outcry that it was ineffective and because of the Church’s persistent objections. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

“The situation for rural (barrios) youth is quite different. They learn and receive information about sex and sexual behavior from observing farm animals, from magazines, from clandestine “boys only” meetings, and from the relations between parents and other family members in homes where there is little privacy. The prevailing Catholic dogma on sexual morality is written deep in the unconsciousness of every boy and girl. Only a few years ago, 98 percent of the youth associated premarital sex with guilt and sin. Only recently has this begun to change. In 1994, the Youth Adult Sexuality Survey (Zablan 1994) revealed that about 18 percent accepted premarital sex, although a majority of 80 percent still believed it was a sin and morally unacceptable. |~|

“Only a few general surveys about the sexual life of younger Filipinos exist; most of what is known is based on anecdotal reports. The author’s experiences are with interviews of preselected groups of the youth population conducted during periodic sojourns back to the Philippines. The samples mainly consist of middle-class youth, ages 17 to 22, who were encouraged to bring to the meeting problems related to their sexual lives and development. Repeatedly, they expressed regret that these aspects of their lives that engender so much anguish and fears could not be explicitly discussed in the intimacy of their household. |~|

“It is becoming increasingly clear that first premarital sexual activities are initiated at an earlier age, especially for those in metropolitan areas, where the basic family structure often disintegrates because of a lack of parental supervision, with both parents working or the father absent and perhaps working overseas. Young males pursuing college and graduate studies in the city are often detached from parental supervision and frequently succumb to the lure of metropolitan temptations, go-go bars, and adult entertainment houses. Twenty to 25 percent have their first sexual experiences with prostitutes, either out of peer pressure or curiosity. In a few cases, youths in smaller communities who impregnate their girlfriends may be forced to marry them or make an amicable financial arrangement with parental approval. The woman usually keeps the child in her parents’ home instead of giving it up for adoption. In the Muslim communities, premarital sex is absolutely prohibited. But young girls, ages 14 to 16, can be betrothed through the usual (parental) marriage arrangement, mainly to affluent and much older bridegrooms. |~|

“Among girls, the memories of being deflowered were somewhat different from those of the boys. Because of guilt and shame, the majority of young females did not bother to get prior information about sexual intercourse and the possible consequences of their first sexual encounters. They perceived their first intercourse as the fulfillment of young love, motivated by peer pressure to keep their boyfriends, and at the same time as a “challenge” to parental authority or a gross transgression of a religious or social taboo. For the well-educated and sophisticated city dwellers, it was a calculated act to get rid of the old-fashioned social taboo (virginity), which they perceived as an obstacle to entering into a more mature and fulfilling sexual life, or plainly to catch the men of their dreams. It is interesting to note that, compared with the United States and other industrialized nations, Filipino teenagers are probably less sexually active; thus teenage pregnancy is less of a problem than elsewhere. |~|

Most of the children born to single mothers are kept in the teenager’s mother’s home, instead of being given up for adoption. In the 1970s, a pregnant teenager was a social outcast and was subjected to severe parental scorn. However, in the 1990s, because of Western influence and financial difficulties, a pregnant teenager is somewhat more tolerated, and her parents are less condemning and more accepting of any financial help the teenage father might offer. |~|

Marital Sex in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: There are no credible published data on marital sexual satisfaction or on the status of Filipino marital life. According to the author’s informal survey and radio-talk-show interviews in 1995, 15 to 20 percent of Filipinos are unhappily married. Women, more often than men, reported having sexual intercourse not because they desired it, but to please their spouses. Whereas 35 percent of males would like to increase the frequency of sexual intercourse, especially those in their 20s and 30s, most of the women were satisfied with the frequency of sex; only 5 percent of the females were interested in more frequent sex. These gender differences may be explained as the result of a greater pressure on males for sexual performance to maintain their macho image and maintain total control over women. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

“A majority of women complained of the brief duration of foreplay and premature ejaculation. Sexual intercourse is limited almost exclusively to penetration, which is more common among the less educated, more devotedly religious couples, and the older age groups. The average duration of foreplay is about five minutes, that of coitus about five to six minutes. On the other hand, the more educated, sophisticated, younger age group, and the “unchurched” have a longer duration of sexual foreplay and coitus, about twenty-two minutes. Although premature ejaculation is not uncommon among males, very few men seek medical help. Husbands generally do not consider premature (early) ejaculation a problem. |~|

“In the Christian community, sexual activity is not prohibited during any religious event or celebration. In some cases, Christian women make the personal choice of not having sex during their menstrual period. On the other hand, Muslim custom does not allow any sexual activity during the menstrual period, between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday, and during Ramadan, the month-long period of daytime fasting. |~|

“It is difficult to gather data on female orgasm because of religious repression and personal shyness. It is believed that Filipinas’ sexual satisfaction is based on cultural and religious grounds. The husband’s satisfaction is primary and the wife’s orgasm clearly secondary. Young, educated, and less religious or unchurched women have a higher orgasmic rate as compared to their older, less-educated, (oftentimes) more religious, and shy counterparts. It is believed that for a majority of women who experienced orgasms, it was more a result of psychological and religious expectation and not so much because of oral or manual genital stimulation. However, the barrage of media and Western influences has increased the proportion of Filipinas who prefer both psychic and physical stimulation. Filipinas are bombarded by the mass media and performing arts with messages about more openness in sexual matters, greater gender equality, information about new techniques for lovemaking, new roles within the couple, and new opportunities for extramarital relationships. These issues are also conversation matter among friends and families, at business meetings, and at almost any social-civic gatherings.” |~|

Half of Filipino Men Worry about Premature Ejaculation – Survey

Filipino men say that sexually satisfying their partners is important, but as many as half worry about premature ejaculation (PE) or their inability to control their ejaculation. Ibarra C. Mateo wrote in gmanetwork.com: “According to the Asia-Pacific PE Prevalence and Attitude Study, one in every three men in the region is suffering from PE, considered the most common sexual dysfunction in men—yet one that remains under-detected, under-diagnosed and under-treated. Another study, the 2013 Asia-Pacific Sexual Behaviors and Satisfaction Survey, revealed that 91 percent of Filipino men “find it highly important that they sexually satisfy their partners” and that they “want to make their partner feel happy, loved, and satisfied.” However, this second study also found out that seven out of 10 (or 72 percent) Filipino men surveyed were concerned about not being able to sexually satisfy their partners. Almost half (or 46 percent) of the surveyed Filipino men in the same study were also anxious about ejaculating too early or not being able to control when to ejaculate.[Source: Ibarra C. Mateo, gmanetwork.com, July 15, 2014 /+/]

“Filipino men and their counterparts in the Asia-Pacific region have good reasons to worry about PE. One out of five men with PE in the region (or 20 percent) disclosed that PE “can lead to relationship breakdown or divorce.” Dr. Juliano Panganiban, Philippine Urological Association (PUA) past president, said 83 percent of Filipino men and 82 percent of Filipino women surveyed “agree that mutual sexual satisfaction plays a very extremely important role in a successful relationship.” /+/

“The 2013 Asia-Pacific Sexual Behaviors and Satisfaction Survey polled more than 3,500 men and women aged 18-45 years old in Australia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. The study was aimed at “understanding the impact of premature ejaculation has on couples’ relationships and sexual satisfaction.” The survey was conducted between March 18, 2013 and April 2, 2013, used the five-question Premature Ejaculation Diagnostic Tool (PEDT), which is a validated research instrument for diagnosing PE. /+/

“In a recent media briefing on PE, Dr. George Lee Eng Geap, a consultant urological surgeon at the Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, said the medication Dapoxetine “significantly improves control over ejaculation, enabling men to control and delay ejaculating thus enhancing sexual satisfaction of the couple while reducing personal distress and interpersonal difficulty.” Dapoxetine, so far the only drug specifically developed to manage PE and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of PE, is now available in the Philippines. /+/

“PE is characterized by “a lack of perceived control over ejaculation as well as negative personal consequences, such as distress or interpersonal difficulty, which leads to a decrease in sexual satisfaction and overall quality of life for both men and their partners.” Lee added that men with PE are “often reluctant to discuss their condition or are in denial.” “Their partners, on the other hand, avoid raising the topic for fear of hurting the man’s feelings. This communication gap hinders PE diagnosis and treatment,” Lee said. Dr. Ulysses Quanico, president of the PUA, said “very few couples and even fewer men dare speak about PE because of the social stigma attached to it.” /+/

“Lee told reporters that the chemical serotonin plays a central role in PE. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and a chemical messenger in the brain and nervous system. Studies have shown that adequate levels of serotonin in the junctions between neurons or brain cells, which are called synapses, help delay ejaculation, Lee said. Men with PE have low levels of serotonin in the synapses. PE is recognized as a medical condition by global health organizations such as the World Health Organization, the International Society of Sexual Medicine, European Association of Urology, and the American Psychological Association.” /+/

Extramarital Sex in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Most of the causes of legal separation involve extramarital affairs. Adultery or extramarital sex is vehemently condemned by the Catholic Church and is socially detested. However, there is an issue of legal terminology and social definition. Under Filipino penal laws, a man does not commit adultery unless he violates the law against concubinage. To be guilty of concubinage, a man must: 1) keep a mistress within the conjugal dwelling; 2) have sexual intercourse with another woman under scandalous circumstances; or 3) cohabit with another woman outside the conjugal dwelling. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

“Having sexual intercourse with a women who is not one’s wife does not in itself violate the law of concubinage. Nor is the ban on concubinage violated if a man fathers a child with a woman who is not his wife. A wife commits adultery simply by having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband, regardless of the circumstances. The provisions of the Penal Code on female adultery and male concubinage are glaring examples, not only of the inequality between the sexes, but also of the inequity between erring spouses. The law provides a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment for the erring husband. The concubine shall be meted a penalty of destierro, wherein she is prohibited from setting foot within the man’s residence. A wife found guilty of adultery, on the other hand, may be imprisoned for a maximum period of six years. Some lawmakers have pointed out that it is easier to send a female to jail and that this violates the constitutional provision on equality of the sexes. In simple terms, the law does not criminalize the sexual infidelity of a married man except under certain circumstances. This, some lawmakers point out, seems to imply that the extramarital affairs of men are acceptable as long as they are discreet in handling them - a clear reflection of the double standard mentality of society with regard to sexual infidelity. |~|

“A 1996 survey conducted by an advertising and research group revealed that out of 485 married men in metropolitan Manila, 51 percent admitted having had extramarital affairs. The survey results reflect the machismo culture in the Philippines, wherein a man’s worth, among other things, is also equated with his ability to lure other women. In an attempt to correct this inequality in 1997, Senator M. Santiago filed a bill simplifying marital infidelity. In her measure, she proposed that the extramarital sex by either the husband or wife be called adultery, whether the extramarital partner is of the other or same sex. The House committee made amendments to her bill and put the marital offense under a single crime called “marital infidelity,” eliminating the separate provisions on concubinage and adultery, and the consideration of whether the infidelity occurs within the couple’s home or elsewhere. Congress proposed a maximum penalty of six years for all parties concerned. Speaking for the Women’s Legal Bureau, a non-governmental organization (NGO), E. Ursua claimed that imposing criminal liability on the offenders is not the answer. “We do not think criminalizing is the proper solution. We can’t force someone to be faithful.” |~|

“The new law penalizes the guilty party with imprisonment, regardless of the reasons behind the infidelity. A woman escaping from an abusive or violent relationship, or one who simply falls out of love and finds growth and fulfillment with another person, is treated no differently than a man who keeps several mistresses. In effect, the law also punishes individuals who get out of marriages that are bereft of love, respect, and trust. Some legal organizations propose a modified “divorce” law and/or a new bill to decriminalize sexual infidelity. But Senator Santiago countered that this might send a “subliminal message” to the youth that the state is encouraging “free love.” |~|

“In the Muslim world, adultery is severely punished, with the perpetrators either made social outcasts or, in rural villages, stoned to death in public. This “fatal justice” is carried out clandestinely as an expression of community justice that government magistrates (datu) can do nothing to either prevent or punish. The whole village maintains a “code of silence,” because this punishment is written in the Muslim moral marital law. There is no witness to interrogate or testify. |~|

“During the Spanish colonial days, 1775 to 1899, rich Filipinos who owned haciendas (estates or a large parcel of land) and employed several female domestic helpers could easily have extramarital relations with their female employees, with or without the knowledge of their wives. Today, we still find married men in all walks of life who maintain a long-standing relationship with a second woman, oftentimes with the knowledge and approval of their spouses, and even of their grown children. In some cases, an extramarital affair can end a politician’s career; in other cases, an affair, even when its makes headlines, may have no political consequences. Some couples find extramarital affairs a solution that keeps their marriage alive. The man may be freed to satisfy sexual needs he does not dare, because of religious restrictions, reveal to his wife, while the wife is relieved of any pressure to change her sexual behavior. Most wives who adopt this compromise have limited horizons in their lives and a very low sexual appetite. Less common is a marriage in which both the husband and wife have extramarital relationships by mutual knowledge and agreement. In such cases, usually the husband has a job that keeps him abroad for long periods of time, with periodic visits to wife and family. Occasionally, Filipinos who married, found employment abroad, immigrated for a few years, and married a second woman while abroad, bring their second wives back when they return and set up a second household in a different dwelling. Discovery of this bigamous affair can be costly if the courts become involved. Legal penalties for bigamy can bring up to four years in prison and fines for moral and psychological damages between $500 and $1,300 US. These relationships pose a serious problem in Philippine society because many of these men resist the use of condoms, do not practice safe sex, and pay no attention to the possibility that their regular or occasional partner(s) may be HIV-positive. |~|

Oral and Anal Sex and Masturbation in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Both the Christian and Islamic sects abhor oral and anal sex acts. The Muslim tradition specifically requires the husband to enter the wife by natural means in penile-vaginal intercourse. Oral sex, which in the past was condemned as “unnatural,” is practiced more or less by educated Christians who live in the metropolitan areas. From the 1950s to the 1970s, when there was no constant supply on electricity in many towns and areas of the country, professional couples enhanced their sexual lives by using pornographic and specialty magazines. In the 1970s and 1980s, with electricity more widely available, middle-class and upper-class couples used film projectors, and later videocassette players, to enhance their sexual repertoire and learn about alternatives to penile-vaginal intercourse that could bring renewed vigor to their routine sex lives. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

“Anecdotal reports suggest that oral sex is practiced by 10 to 15 percent and tried by 20 percent of the professional couples (i.e., doctors, lawyers, and businesspersons who travel a lot). The majority of Filipinos, however, still consider oral sex as dirty and unnatural. For the few who engage in oral sex, cunnilingus is acceptable, but Filipinas will only very rarely engage in fellatio. In general, older and lower-class Filipinos have a more negative view of oral and anal sex. |~|

“Modern Filipino youth, however, seem to be taking a new look at Westernized sexual expressions, according to what they said at the author’s impromptu meetings. Although no general survey data are available, a segmental study of metropolitan youths revealed two groups of young women based on their responses. One group accepts and practices oral sex as a way of avoiding the risk of pregnancy, maintaining their technical virginity until marriage, and/or as a form of safer sex. For the second group, oral sex was a more intimate form of sexual relationship, somehow more “romantic” than genital intercourse. Youths holding the latter view believed that oral sex should be only engaged in with a stable (engaged to be married) partner and not in the first few exploratory encounters or dates. Some other older girls joined some boys in rejecting this way of expressing love, and thought that only prostitutes could practice fellatio on boys. |~|

“Whereas anal intercourse is not part of the fantasies for the majority of devout Christian women, anecdotal reports revealed that 30 to 40 percent of males fantasized about having anal sex with women other than their wives. Prejudices against anal sex are even stronger in less educated youths. Most of the youths I spoke with do not accept anal sex even after marriage, perhaps influenced by the increasing incidence of AIDS in the Orient. Older boys agreed that a woman will never ask for it.|~|

“The Catholic Church still maintains its condemnation of self-pleasuring (masturbation), teaching that any sex outside marriage is sinful. At present, a majority of Filipinos still believe that frequent masturbation can cause neuroses, premature ejaculation, and even blindness. In 1969 and 1970, the author conducted an informal sex survey in Central Region colleges and universities, which revealed that only 22 percent of the students, mainly males, engaged in masturbation. Another survey done in 1995, limited to medical school students, showed that 32 percent of the males and 8 percent of the females practiced masturbation (total N = 280).” |~|

Homosexuality in the Philippines

In the 2001 Time sex survey, 41 percent of men and 38 percent of women said that bisexuality was acceptable and 16 percent of men and 6 percent of women said they had slept with somebody of the same sex.

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Early Christian and Muslim colonists brought their religious views of homosexuality as either sinful or at least unnatural and immoral. Today, the Philippines is still, to a large extent, a macho society, and macho men detest gays, whom they see as effeminate and “strange.” For a majority of the population, including locally trained physicians, psychologists, and social workers, homosexuality is viewed as a perversion and a disease. Teenagers who feel a strong attraction to persons of their own gender at first experience confusion about their feelings and sexuality. Gradually, as their orientation becomes clearer in their minds, they awake to the unpleasant reality of belonging to a group that Filipino society marginalizes. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

“Homosexuality in the Philippines, however, is increasingly being tolerated, and a gay movement is gaining strength and demanding their rights. Twenty years ago, this would have been unthinkable. The scorn for gays is stronger among low- and middle-class men than in the upper class. There always were artists, beauticians, fashion designers, writers, and medical and dental professionals whose homosexuality was known among the elite, but which was carefully kept out of scrutiny from the media and the masses. Lesbians are still not too visible in Filipino society, in keeping with the Christian and Victorian tradition, which never wanted to think about sexual activities in a relationship between two females. To be gay or lesbian in a repressive environment whose stereotypes are the macho man and the submissive reproductive woman is not an easy task. Anyone who deviates from strict heterosexual behavior is ridiculed: A gay is not a man and a lesbian is a degenerate woman. The Filipino Armed Forces does not allow gays to join the military and expels them when they are discovered. |~|

“To be bisexual, however, is not so annoying, as long as one’s same-gender behavior is kept very private. In the early 1970s, it was common for Filipinos to identify or classify two types of gays: those who engage in homosexual sex activities and those who act effeminate but do not engage in homosexual acts. However, in the early 1990s, the former group has been active in promoting gay rights for the whole gay community. Although the “Gay Organization for Liberty and Dignity” is not yet a formal organization, they speak for both the visible and the invisible, helping the latter to openly assume their identities. Part of the emergence of gay and lesbian subcultures are masseurs who advertise their services in the most important papers and magazines and in metropolitan “gay” bars, discos, and hair salons. Some vocal gay groups lobby to influence politicians for future legal status and/or political clout. |~|

“Most Filipino gays prefer to mix with the heterosexual mainstream in their own social class and not form exclusively or predominantly homosexual neighborhoods. Those who have a well-defined and highly visible economic or political role are still in the closet. The same is true for members of the Armed Forces and the clergy. To admit their homosexuality would be unthinkable or suicidal. On the other hand, among artists, writers, movie producers, TV personalities - actors, dancers, some doctors and dentists, and university professors, to openly admit they are gay may bring rejection from the most conservative members of society, but they may end up being accepted and sometimes even see their popularity increase. In the medical community, homosexuality is still generally viewed in Freudian terms, as a condition originating in conflicts and childhood sexual conflicts, which can be cured by psychotherapy. Whereas members of the locally trained medical community, with limited experience abroad, view homosexuality as a violation of the laws of nature, the general public continues to believe that homosexuality is a result of growing up effeminate in a family without a masculine image or male role model.” |~|

Philippines Is Getting Better For Gays, But Discrimination Persists: UN Study

Gays are increasingly tolerated in Philippine society but discrimination persists and they remain vulnerable to hate crimes, according to a United Nations-backed study. AFP reported: “Sexual activity is not a crime but same-sex marriage is not allowed and gay couples cannot adopt children, said the study funded by the UN Development Programme and the US Agency for International Development. "Cultural and social attitudes towards LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people are complex, with signs of acceptance, particularly among the young," the study said. [Source: Agence France Presse, July 12, 2014 <=>]

“Several large cities have passed ordinances banning LGBT discrimination, but efforts to pass a national law have foundered amid opposition from the powerful Catholic church, it added. Hate crimes remained a threat, with 28 killings involving the community tallied in the first half of 2011 alone, it added. Michael Tan, the author of the study, told a news conference a recent informal survey of 700 Filipino LGBT respondents found one in 10 had been a victim of violence and abuse, mostly committed at home by their parents. <=>

"What we have in the Philippines is tolerance, not acceptance," Manila-based gay rights campaigner Jonas Bagas of the TLF Sensuality, Health and Rights Educators Collective told the meeting. He said the Filipino LGBT community was "a long way off" the rights enjoyed by their counterparts in many Western countries. "In many parts of Asia, social and legal environments remain far from inclusive for the LGBT community," UNDP country director Maurice Dewulf said in a speech launching the report. <=>

“The Philippine report said LGBT people generally suffer discrimination, harassment and abuse at work. LGBT staff are routinely assigned to night shifts and passed over for promotion "since they don't have families to feed", Tan told the news conference. Transgender people are not allowed legally to change their identity, first name and sex, while gays can be discharged from the military, and cross-dressers are barred from nightclubs, the report said. In school LGBT youths suffer from discrimination, bullying and abuse, the report said.” <=>

Transsexuals, Transvestites and Transgender Issues in the Philippines

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “Despite the prevailing Spanish machismo mentality, the advent of democracy and Westernized media messages are slowly changing traditional attitudes. Thus, the “eccentric” minorities have had a chance to come out of their closets and express themselves. For the moment, the public reacts with curiosity rather than violence or acceptance. In the world of beauticians, dress makers/designers, and performing artists, there are well-known transvestites. Because these persons are celebrities in Filipino culture, the public, especially the women, accepts them with smiles and gentle jokes. There is an annual summer parade of transvestites in Manila, where some men are indistinguishable from real women in physique and even “beauty.” This event is similar to gay, lesbian, and transgender pride parades in San Francisco and New York City’s Greenwich Village. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

“In his younger days, this author would cross dress with other young professionals to entertain hometown guests during fiestas and Christmas celebrations. On the superstitious side, folklore in the North Central and Central parts of the archipelago holds that, when someone is confronted by a witch or travels through a haunted region, it is advisable to cross dress so that the witch or the devil does not recognize you. In some rare cases, transvestites have acceptance from their mates, and sometimes from their children, when they live in metropolitan cities, cross dress in the privacy of their homes, and maintain the macho stereotype in their work and social environment. |~|

“If life is not easy for non-effeminate gays or non-masculine lesbians, it is more difficult for those who identify themselves as the opposite sex in manners and clothing, and even more so for those who want to see their bodies change towards the features of the other sex. Persons who want to change their physical sex and be socially recognized as being of the other sex have not been seriously considered in the Philippines. The Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine College of Surgeons have not officially reported any case of transsexualism. Transsexuals are provided with psychiatric treatment, not transsexual surgery. The courts have not addressed this situation, and any person who desires to undergo medical (pre-surgical) and transsexual surgery treatments has to seek such services abroad.” |~|

The paper “Transgendered Women of the Philippines” by Sam Winter, Sass Rogando-Sasot and Mark King reports: “ A convenience sample of 147 transgendered females (i.e. male-to-female (MtF) transgenders, or transwomen, transgendered members of a community often called bakla in the Philippines) was studied. Participants (mean 23.6 years) completed a questionnaire covering, inter alia, demographics, transition histories, sexual preferences, sexual and gender identities, experience of social attitudes towards transgenderism, as well as beliefs about the origins of their own transgenderism. Despite a level of education that was high in relation to the national average, the level of unemployment in our sample was comparatively high. Participants’ family backgrounds revealed a significantly higher frequency of older sisters than younger ones. Participants differed in the ways in which they self-identified, but overwhelmingly reported early feelings of gender incongruity (i.e. in early or middle childhood) and initial transition in adolescence. Though most were at the time of the study using hormones, surgery was relatively uncommon, and sex reassignment surgery rare. While none of the participants aspired to a male identity, many anticipated that they would nevertheless be presenting as male later in their lives. An overwhelming majority reported a sexual attraction to men, the vast majority of these exclusively so. Participants commonly reported that Filipino society was unfavourably disposed towards the transgendered. Many reported rejection by their parents, though this was more common ( a ) by fathers, and ( b ) when they had earlier begun to transition. Participants most commonly cited inborn biology or God’s Will as a factor underlying their own transgenderism. Very few cited social influences. [Source: “Transgendered Women of the Philippines” by Sam Winter, Sass Rogando-Sasot and Mark King, published in the International Journal of Transgenderism, 10, 2, 79-90, 2007]

Papers on transgender issues in the Philippines: 1) Our Brave New World: A Brief History of the Birth of the Transgender Movement in the Philippines (Rogando-Sasot); 2) Psychological perspectives and development of the transsexual woman: phenomenological case study on male to female Filipino transsexuals: (Alegre)

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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