Sex in the city

By Ana Santos

One baby every 15 seconds. Four babies every minute. Over three million babies born every year. That’s the number of babies that are made in the Philippines.

That’s pretty prolific for a country that is supposed to be a conservative country like the Philippines. That’s a whole lot of pro-creation going on in a country that frowns upon having sex before and outside of marriage and sex with someone of the same gender.

Ironic, isn’t it?

The number of motels that we have in the backstreets and side roads would rival the number of convenience stories that are found on every corner—both are open 24/7. These motels have rooms that accommodate all forms of transportation: scooter rooms for those on two wheels, garages for those who come in four wheels and SUVs and taxi rooms for those who are chauffer driven. A varied pricing structure makes it possible to sneak in some quality time, even if you can only stay for a quickie, linger for a three hour stay (just about the same amount of time it would take to watch an innocuous movie and makes for a handy alibi) or overnight for the whole nine yards.

That’s a lot of sex going on in this city.

Very, ahem, tongue-in-cheek, isn’t it?

Quiapo, the heart of Manila, is a pilgrimage site where the faithful come in droves in January to march with, touch and see the miraculous Black Nazarene. It in also in Quiapo where people come for another kind of answer to their prayers in the form of potions and herbal concoctions na pampa – regla [bring on delayed menstruation]. They look to be touched and massaged by a manghihilot [masseuse] who can perform a miracle and massage away an unwanted pregnancy away.

There are a whole lot of clandestine activities going on in this place for the devoted and pious.

Reek of contradiction, doesn’t it?

Our highways are decked in balls of jolly long before the arrival of Christmas. Ridiculously sculpted bulging bodies in larger-than-life displays, wearing almost nothing but a penetrating grin make both the virgin and the vixen blush.  Meanwhile, parents are sued for alleged child abuse because they allowed their daughters to wear similar articles of clothing while at the beach. Some of those filing the suit, by virtue of their vocation, are not even allowed to be parents.

A mockery of parenthood, isn’t it?

They say that education is best gift we can give our children. It is the invaluable wealth that we pass on to them. Many will pay exorbitant fees just to give their children the best gift that money can buy and for good reason; education is enlightenment and knowledge.

And yet, our educational system prefers to keep adolescents in the dark about their changing bodies and how to handle the rollercoaster of emotions and hormones that come with it. We shelter them from truths that will keep them growing up too fast, but fail to educate them about the risks that come with adulthood.

A lesson in incongruity, isn’t it?

The only country without divorce because we believe in the sanctity of marriage.  May only death part a couple, at least until the annulment proceeding. Ah, annulment, that self-defeating, arduous and expensive process of separating from your spouse the only way possible under Philippine law--by tearing each other apart.  So others chose to live in or maintain a mistress to be happy, or to remain sane.

An example of reality bites, isn’t it?

Every baby, every child is a blessing. Even the ones on the street, with nothing to eat. Even the ones forced to work or beg, or both.

Procreation has become a national pastime probably, save for days of tacit moratorium like when there’s a Manny Pacquiao fight.

The quintessential icon of the dalagang Filipina (our closest version to the vestal virgin) is the demure, poised and pious Maria Clara, who was actually sired by a friar; and the product of an illicit coupling.

Ironic? Or appropriate?

Is Maria Clara is the quintessential personification of our country’s own Madonna - whore syndrome?


This column was inspired by last week’s Rappler Conversation where the comment was re-tweeted numerous times.

Ironic, isn't it? Such a conservative country,having so much sex:4 babies born every minute, increasing rate of HIV infection.

This article was also published here.