Forever 81

Reportage on sex


“COME Down, Eve, and Give Me a Bite of That Fruit!” ART BY GCF (2013)

NOTA BENE:  I did 28 interviews for this three-part series on sex.  It was hard work. I hope the information is of some use to parents, guidance counselors and teachers for the protection of children, as is its intention.  Many words and harsh truths from the interviewees may be unpalatable to the queasy.  Drink plenty of water and consult your physician immediately.

There could be no more opportune time for this article than now.  The cover-up of child molestation and abuse charges  against the clergy, the pope’s resignation over impending international charges, the One Billion Rising against women’s abuse have made it so relevant.

Almost unbelievable now how women of my Jurassic generation knew zilch about sex.  We didn’t even realize, as Mariel Francisco writes in her book, that “we had three holes down there.”  And a lot of the other things.

The unperforated hymen was considered “the most precious gift to give one’s husband on the first night,” which was, inevitably, also the wedding night.  Until one learned that a hymen could be torn while biking, riding a horse, climbing a tree or through some accident.  And so the biker and the horse rider and the tree climber became terribly anxious whether hers indeed was, and dreaded what her future husband would think if she didn’t bleed.  Wrecked hymens, however, are the least of girls’ concerns today.

I refuse to make it my job to express moral judgments in these articles, please!  All I offer is my research on sex stuff I gathered from the ranks of the deaf, the blind, the lame, and of young, active deflowered girls.  Deflowered, what an old hat word!

It is sheer nostalgia to think, as a colleague of mine expressed it, “You lose all the beauty and mystery of the first night if you had all the information or had experienced it beforehand.”  First night today may be first noon or first afternoon (after the last class), and not necessarily on a wedding bed.

The word “boyfriend” has also undergone a sea change.  But it has not gotten extinct.  In my hallowed past, “boyfriend” or “boyfriends” meant those guys who hung around my house on weekends. They came in groups, and I didn’t know if they came for me or my mama’s delicious cakes, but I knew one or two had a secret (or even a declared) crush on me.

When I became a middling matron, I was proud to be often in the company of young friends.  Once they asked me how many boyfriends I had in my salad days.  I said, “Five.”  There was an impressed silence.  It wasn’t until much later I realized that “boyfriend” meant you were sleeping with the guy or guys.  (Serves me right).

Well, at least, I wasn’t as bad as some people who had been married for several months without ever finding their way into each other.  Or the young bride of a professor, who, in his exasperation at her cluelessness, bought her a sex instruction manual and underlined all the parts she was to learn.


Children had many misconceptions about the creation of a baby.  Some of them are, or were:

You can become pregnant by kissing.  One interviewee said she covered her eyes whenever she saw kissing on TV.  It made her feel embarrassed.  When a teacher finally straightened it out, she just couldn’t believe her papa and mama could do such a sinful thing!

You can get pregnant by using the same public toilet as the boys.  This was told by a JASMS teacher to students in the ’60s, according to someone who had been in her class.

You can get pregnant by swimming in the same pool as the boys.  (I thought, said one wife, sperms come out when a boy urinated). The promoter of the swimming pool fallacy was a ’60s Maryknoll teacher, a spinster, whom her former pupils soon identified.  Apparently, this carried on for many years until one progressive American nun, who bothered to do some research, wrote with finality on the blackboard:  “Sperms cannot swim in chlorinated water.”  Nor in the stream, for that matter; the current would sweep the sperms away.

Another convent school teacher wrote “SEX” in large letters on the classroom blackboard.  She then warned the girls that it was a word they must never, never utter.

In a Write-Your-Question-and -Teacher-Will-Answer session, the mentor glanced at the scribbled question, blanched, and refused to answer it.  The question, it was found out later, was, “Can you get pregnant through the mouth?”  Teacher could simply have said, “No,” and prevented speculations.

Among oldsters, talking about sex was bastus; it was something whispered about, making children conclude that it was “dirty” instead of the beautiful thing that it is.  Maybe mothers were reluctant to let their daughters know so much about sex lest they become curious and try it.  Mothers were probably trying to manage a balance between the child’s innocence and her safety.

“A nun in school said boys were easily aroused, and so when you danced you better have on a camison, not just a bra!” said another woman. “You were responsible for the soul of your partner if he fell into sin.” (The camison was as good as a chastity belt?!)

One well-to-do informant, now in her 80s, related, “My husband and I had eight children.  My obstetrician, Dr. Jose Villanueva, was getting exasperated with me because every time he said I had to be ligated, I answered, ‘I’ll ask my confessor first.’

“Another pregnancy was already getting very dangerous.  At his wits’ end, Dr. Villanueva told me to tell the priest to deliver the eighth child himself because he was very afraid to do so.  On his part, the priest said he was harassed, too, because every time he answered the phone it was me asking whether I could already be ligated.”

Useless resource persons

In time, it was decided by mature wives that you don’t have to deliver sex to your partner to keep him happy.  And the time finally came for the act to be associated with love.

Anyway, most mothers were still useless resource persons.  When pubescent girls got their menses, they were told what to do with the sanitary napkin, but never what menstruation meant.

One 65-year-old interviewee said that her mother was very self-conscious about sexual matters, and as each of her four daughters got into her menarche, she was just provided a book to read.

“As late as the late ’80s, in our Catholic school in Rizal,” said a former pupil, “the teacher closed the door and some of the windows (?), all very mysterious, saying we would be given ‘sex education.’  So we were all ears.  But it was the same old biology lecture.  You never learned what sex was from any of those lectures.

“It was always paintings of the uterus, vagina, ovulation.  Then there was this magnified view of little white tadpoles swimming around in a pool.  The actual penetration was always skipped.  So we couldn’t figure out the connection and were left thinking that the penis was just for wee-wee.”

“It was from those we called our pokpok classmates in second year that I learned,” said an older matron. “Like one came to school after the first period and I noticed that she had no bra. She said she came from the movies.  Her boyfriend didn’t like her to wear a bra and she told me why.  But those girls didn’t tell just everyone.  Not the sumbongeras who reported skipping class, or the manangs, or the student leaders.”

“I learned about it by hanging out with boys on the sidewalk of our house,” began a restaurant owner. “I was seven.  My mestizo playmate, who was 10, said to me, ‘You want to see k___________?” (the Tagalog word for coitus).  It sounded so vulgar.”

“‘What’s that?’ I asked.  ‘You mean you don’t know?’ he said mockingly.  And then he told me all about how it was done.  I was so mad at him!  ‘My mama and my papa don’t do such a sinful thing!’ I said.  ‘So how did you get born?’ he jeered.”

A guidance counselor recounted that she, her two cousins and her younger brother learned about sex by peeping.  They were staying in the big ancestral house of her mother in the province.   One of the rooms was often rented out to relatives. And the four of them found four gaps on the room’s wall exactly the right height of their eyes. And they knew exactly what time the couple would do it.

Once, while watching, they giggled so loudly because the two looked like horses. Then they got scared and ran away.

Many girls learned from classmates.  “I never had any wrong information from teachers,” said a child psychologist.  “In fourth year high school, a classmate, who had a boyfriend she was having an intimate relationship with, would tell me about it blow by blow during sewing class. (Oh, those enlightening home economics classes!) And she seemed so happy, no hang-ups at all.  She kept singing, ‘You don’t know what you’re missing till you try it,’ and snapping her fingers.  And I thought, that’s something to look forward to.”

Next week: the horrors of innocence

P.S. My grandson, Rafael V. Fernando, is running for University Student Councilor in University of the Philippines Diliman Feb. 28 elections. He is in BS Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, a quota course where they accept no more than 40 every year, is of cum laude standing, and a University student scholar last semester. A consistent leader and handsome, Rafa is also a founding member of the BBB-band “Happy Bertie.”

Electioneering season is open, so please vote for Rafa and I promise never to campaign again (unless another apo runs for something).

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • ryan andres

    This is the heritage of Damaso and his Catholic Church – A country in sexual denial.

  • imnotoverityet

    I would not try to make a very scrutinizing comment about the article for there is absolutely  nothing new by these hordes of waning writers that used to be some top of the crop of the intelligentsia but as the time goes by, especially on Ms Fernando’s condition, has failed to seek a vision that would define her literary sensibilities and would tightly frame her solidity as one of the Schwannengessang (swan song ) of the last literary decadent divas that we had on our Philippine Literature. It is sad, that no matter how writhing and grave the talent of this lady, she only resorted into writing some chunks of old life experiences carefully sprinkled by her academic strictly-grammatical style with flowing cadenzas of shallow thoughts and puny remonstrances. She should at least move on a heavier material later on.

  • WeAry_Bat

    @imnotoverityet:disqus  reminds me of the long joke below…

    Mananang biday

    Dahil sa tindi ng kahirapan sa probinsya, namasukan si Inday
    bilang katulong sa Maynila.

    Habang ini-interview ng amo…..

    Amo: Kailangan namin ng katulong para mag-linis ng bahay,
    Magluto, maglaba, mamalantsa, mamalengke, at magbantay sa mga bata. Kaya mo ba ang lahat ng

    Inday: I believe that my acquired skills, training and expertise in
    management with the use of standard tools, and my discipline and
    experience will contribute significantly to the value of the work that
    you want done. My creativity, productivity and work-efficiency and the
    high quality of outcome I can offer will boost the work progress.

    Amo: [Nagdugo ang ilong.]

    Makaraan ang dalawang araw, umuwi ang amo, nakitang may bukol si Junior.

    Amo: Inday, bakit may bukol si Junior?

    Inday: Compromising safety with useless aesthetics, the not-so-well engineered architectural
    design of our kitchen lavatory affected the boy’s cranium with a slight boil at the left temple near the auditory organ.

    Amo: [Nagdugo ulit ang ilong.]

    Kinagabihan, habang naghahapunan….

    Amo: Inday, bakit naman maalat ang ulam natin?

    Inday: The consistency was fine. But you see, it seems that the
    increased amount of sodium chloride affected the taste drastically and
    those actions are irreversible. I do apologize.

    Amo: [Nagdugo na naman ang ilong.]

    Donya: Bakit tuwing pag-uwi ko, nararatnan kitang nanunuod ng TV?!

    Inday: Because I don’t want you to see me doing absolutely nothing.

    Donya: [Hinimatay.]

    Kinabukasan, sinamahan ni Inday si Junior sa Principal’s office dahil hindi makapunta ang amo at donya.

    Principal: Sinuntok ni Junior ang kanyang kaklase.

    Inday: It’s absurd! It was never a fact that he will inflict an injury
    to anyone. I can only imagine how you handle schizophrenic kids in this
    educational institution. Your policies need revision because they suck!

    Principal: [Nagbitiw sa tungkulin.]

    Pagdating sa bahay, nandun na ang amo, galit na galit.

    Amo: Inday, bakit nagkalat ang basura sa likod ng bahay?!

    Inday: A change in the weather patterns might have occurred, wrecking
    havoc to the surroundings. The way the debris is scattered indicates
    that the gust of wind was going northeast, causing damage to the path it
    was heading for.

    Amo: [Nagdugo na naman ang ilong.]

    Habang nagluluto si Inday ng hapunan, malikot si Junior.

    Inday: Stop your rambunctious behavior! It is bound to result in
    property damages and if that happens, there will be the corresponding
    corporal punishment to be inflicted upon you!

    Junior: [Takbo sa CR, para hugasan ang nagdudugong ilong.]

    Pagkatapos magluto, nanood na ng TV si Inday. Nasa balita na umalis si Angel Locsin sa GMA 7.

    Junior: Bakit kaya siya umalis?

    Inday: Sometimes, people choose to leave not because of selfish
    reasons but because they just know instinctively that things will get
    worse if they stay. Leaving can be very tough, and it’s even harder when
    people can’t understand you for doing so.

    Junior: [Binalunguyngoy na naman. Takbo ulit sa CR.]

    Nung gabing yon, may nag-text kay inday–si Dodong, ang driver ng kapitbahay, gustong makipagtext-mate..

    Biday: To forestall further hopes of acquaintance, my unequivocal reply to your request – Irrevocable denial.

    Di naglaon, dahil sa tiyaga ni Dodong, naging girlfriend niya rin si inday.

    Pero di tumagal ang kanilang relasyon, at nakipag-break si inday kay Dodong.

    Inday: The statute restricts me to love you but you made the
    provocations. The way you smile is the proximate cause why I love you.
    We have some rules to think of, however. We have no vested rights to
    love each other because the upper household dismissed my petition!

    Dodong: Perhaps you are mistaken….

    I was merely attempting to expand my network of interests by involving
    you in my daily recreation. Heretofore, you can expect an end to any
    verbal articulation from myself!

    May dumaan na mamang basurero, at narinig ang usapan nina Inday at Dodong.

    Basurero (kay inday): Be careful in letting go of the things you think
    are just nothing because someday you will realize that the one you gave
    away was the very thing you had been wishing for to stay..


    Narinig ng amo ni inday ang lahat-lahat.

    Amo: Mula ngayon, walang magsasalita ng inggles, sinumang magpadugo ng
    ilong ko at ng anak ko, palalayasin ko sa pamamahay na ito!

    Inday: Ang namutawi sa inyong bibig ay mataman kong ilalagak as
    kasuluk-sulukan ng aking balintataw, sa kaibuturan ng aking puso, at
    palagi kong gugunam- gunamin.

    Sakbibi ng madlang lumbay kung mapapalis sa gunita yaring inyong tinuran..

    Amo: Leche! Hindi kami sinauna! Yung makabagong wika at salita ang gusto kong gagamitin dito sa bahay ko!!

    Inday: Tarush! Pachenes pa ‘tong chorva eklavubo chuva tabayishki kun suplandish!

    Nyajajajajjaja tinira metten ni manang inday hahaha

  • Rey G. Domingo

    ‘Unperforated hymen’? Bakit, ang hymen ba ng virgin ay parang eardrum? Di kaya ‘torn’ ang tama? You are perpetuating another misconception.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94