Archive for April, 2009

My husband and I are in a dilemma right now. We want to send our eldest son back home sometime in July til August when they are on summer break from school.

But why him only, you might ask. You see, traveling back home as a family is almost impossible if not impractical in these dark financial times. Not only do we need to shell out money for the fare of four people, there are also the expenses to incur while travelling from place to place in the Philippines to make the most of the trip. Then there’s also the question of “pasalubong”, or those gifts from “balikbayans” that our family and friends might expect from returning OFW’s like us. And what about the shopping for things and items we “need” to bring back here in the UK.

Luckily, we have some friends, a couple actually, who are scheduled to go home in the summer with their two children, the eldest of whom is a former classmate and a close friend of our boy. We can easily arrange for him to go with them and then ask my sister to take charge of him once he arrives in the Philippines.

Our fear is that it’s his first time to be away for that long. He’s been to France with his schoolmates and teachers but only for a week, and it was just across the English Channel. Also, we are not sure how he will take to the heat, after living here for two years. He is asthmatic and a slight change in the weather gives him the sniffles already. How much more a rise in the temperature for more than 10 degrees? We are still weighing everything. We are also hoping that we can save for our fare until early next year so that we can all go together. So, at the moment, it’s still unsure.

We want to send him back home for that all-important rite of passage that every young boy should undergo. They do not consider circumcision here as a matter of great importance. In fact, there are those who are opposed to the practice and who label the procedure as child cruelty. Now, we don’t want social service staff to come round our front door because of that, do we?

In the Philippines, there is stigma attached to being uncircumcised and we do not want our two boys to be ridiculed or taunted because of “negligence” on our part to see to it that they go through this rite of passage into manhood. Especially because we intend to keep our “Pinoyhood” no matter how long we need to stay here. In fact, our two boys are still very fluent in Tagalog and we want them to grow up knowing their language, their heritage, the culture, Filipino values and traditions and their citizenship (yes, dual citizenship is our target).

Anyway, we want our son to have it done in the Philippines because we can get the services of a really good surgeon at a fraction of the price if we had it done here by a private practitioner. We also have more confidence in our own people there who do this procedure all the time. I remember back when I was still with the Department of Health, our Rural Health Unit  or Provincial Health Office staff would conduct “Operation Tule” in the summer months of April and May. I remember them really very good at it, even performing the minor operation on a table set-up under a shady mango tree or a makeshift shelter. A politician might also include circumcision in their Medical Mission services during campaign season.

During these outreaches, the local village boys get their procedure for free. I can vividly see in my mind their ashen faces as they waited in the queue and their rather awkward gait when they walk home gently led by their mothers, the fear gone and replaced with expressions of pain. But beneath those grimaces on their faces lie bravado and that cocky expression because at last, they have gone through that rite of passage that they have waited with anticipation and dread in equal measures.

Now, we need to pay tens of thousands of pesos to have it done on our son. Hmmm, how about that?


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