Monday, June 06, 2011

Operation Tuli

Today marks the start of classes for most part of the country. An Awkward and teriffying moment to first timers specially to the little ones - new environment, new faces and new authority figure. But obviously an exciting and engaging time for  most old timers - get to bond with old friends and playmates and of course the highly contested-for-a-raise baon (allowance). The start of class is also the end of summer and the inevitable tuli season (circumcision).

The months of April and May are the right time for this ritual of passage for Pinoy boys to adolecense, when it has no classes and an ample time to recuperate from the wounds. It became a traditional custom for mostly every 8 to 10 years old boys to go under the knife and have the 'weapon' mutilated.

Uncircumcised males in the community are subject to ridicule for being pisot (intact) by their peers and forever teased as  huyang (weakling) for not braving  and  facing like a man the circumcision operation; and hugaw (unclean) because of the tiktik dirt (spegma) that could deposit around the glans penis. Aside from the tradition which is linked to religious and health reasons,  circumcision is also made interestingly practiced, to avoid the child from the stigma of being called pisot  and the many superstitions that are related to it.

There are popular beliefs that an uncircumcised child could have a stouted growth and end up as putot (stout) and that the penis when circumcised could develop fully and enlarge immediately. Popular it may seems but we know  it's not true because the growth of the child are influenced by its hormones and genes.

This summer, almost every Barangays in Tagum City were offered the operation tuli for free. Two separate operation tuli were conducted by City Councilor Boyet Gementiza and Vice Mayor Allan Rellon.  The City Health officers and the Philippine Army together with volunteer nursing students, were organized to carry out the activity.

Circumcision now becomes a cummunal activity. Groups of young boys at the verge of puberty will go together, with loosely worn out shirts of their fathers, have  it done around the same time. Even if there were anesthesia injected, wailings and crying of little voices echoed in the makeshift operating rooms. But there were those that laid silent, not anticipating the pain, just holding up deep breaths. I could just imagine the pains from the foreskin slit done by the local amateur manunuli, that is, without any pain relievers, just masticated guava leaves placed on the weapon at the end of the session.

Here's a warning tip to the newly circumcised, avoid that your weapon falls on a girl's gaze, it will surely mangamatis (swell and redden like a tomato). This is a superstition, I know, but i have it tested and proven true.


  1. Genital mutilation of children is abuse.

  2. "Tuli" is a way of life in the Philippines, a well accepted norm. A boy who grows uncircumcised here will be teased or worse bullied all his life.

  3. When will Filipinos ever dump this useless, wives tale, ritual of butchering a young boys penis? Sad to say parents, doctors, church people, are all overly fascinated with cutting of a boys foreskin as a pagan ritual that has no place in a modern society. Hmmm, obviously Philippines is not a modern society, living on myths and legends, so backwards are they. No wonder their country continues to fall behind other modern countries who do not worship cutting off foreskin. Perhaps you should start circumcising all females, after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Such a backwards country.

  4. I have a close friend who is a nurse in the Phillipines and has worked at Operation Tuli for two years. Women who help at Tuli are regarded as hero's to everyone there. It is so ingrained there that almost every woman thinks uncirced guys are dirty and would never date them and it is a move to manhood. These nurses are very happy and proud to help the boys with the procedure and its common for a woman to do twenty boys in one day. After Operation Tuli was completed, a celebration was held and a meal for all workers.

  5. To most of the nurses who help with Tuli, it is a religous experience as well as leading the boys into manhood. These nurses feel are usually thrilled to have the chance to gain the experience and to follow the churces teachings.

  6. Here in the Phillipines tuli is a completley normal practice. Most mothers are very happy and proud when their sons have it. Any boy who is not circed is critisied and called names and very few females will want to have a relationship with them. Usually,its the mother who escorts the boy in to have it done and is present the whole time which helps to calm the boy.

    1. Donetta

      What happens if a boys does not want it done? Is he forced? If so it is a human rights violation. I also find it odd that non circumcised boys are mistreated over there. Especially the fact that it is mainly a Christian culture and mistreating others for any reason goes against the Christian teachings. As a male I think very little of any woman who would refuse to date some guy just because of the state of his penis. Any boy who chooses against circumcision over there is actually brave by refusing to conform and if he can live outside of the Philippines as a man he will have no trouble finding women.

  7. I guess if I had to be circed,I would much rather be done by a woman. DO NOT want a man handling my equipment! Besides, I think a woman would be more concerned about any discomfort.