I WAS CIRCUMCISED AT THREE... not at three years old, but on the 3rd day after I was born... I am grateful I cannot remember the pain of circumcision. So luckily, I was one of those elementary boys who could bravely show their ‘worms’ to each other in the school toilets to prove that they were really tuli*. Ilonggo boys have been jokingly tagged as pisot** but in my life, I haven’t been mocked or branded as one.
Many years later... January 17, 2007, it was my first day in my new job as a piggery farm worker in Queensland. Strict biosecurity was implemented there, requiring the farm staff to take off and leave all their street/house clothes and undies in the shower room’s ‘dirty area’, then enter and take a 10- minute shower in a small cubicle (which was located in the middle of the shower room), and put on their farm overalls in the ‘clean area’ before proceeding to work. Of course there were separate decontamination rooms for every gender.
That summer morning, there were three of us—Filipino guys who were about to take a shower. Honestly, we were literally shocked to see our Australian workmates—who, after greeting us, took all their clothes and undies off, and waited on the queue while chatting to us. We—the new Filipino workers were, at that moment, like the Biblical Adam who were covering our valuable ‘possessions’ with one of our hands, and blushing. I didn’t know the reason why our face had reddened that time—probably because we still weren’t use to this kind of showering routine yet or maybe because we had seen the uncovered ‘snakes’ of those locals dangling in front of us! It was really a funny, memorable conversation when we got back to our accommodation that afternoon!
Three months later, the decontamination routine eventually became a normal thing to us, no covering, and no blushing even if the ‘brown snakes’ were everywhere. Work performance became more important especially when the first job evaluation came.
Being trained as a technical person in the Philippines, the daily piggery routine was very exhausting for me. Of all the new Filipino workers, I was the one who, the superiors said, had the slowest pace at work! I was even told to work quickly and not ‘properly’—because I was very particular with the details that time. I became the subject of mockery, and was rated very unsatisfactory under the ‘Knowledge of the Job’ category.
The next morning, when we were having our smoko in the farm’s lunch room two of my workmates (who were natives in town) ridiculously asked me, “Hey RJ... How would you insult a Filipino guy back in the Philippines?”
“Tell him that that he is UNcircumcised!” I instantly said without even thinking.
The locals immediately blushed, and had a fake smile.
Instantaneously, I remembered that both of them were ‘uncut’. Well, seven out of our ten local workmates were pisot. And in this country, I think, this is not an issue at all.
*tuli- a Filipino word for a circumcised boy or man.
**pisot- a Hiligaynon term for an uncircumcised boy or man.