Oft heard in boy’s locker rooms are heckles and jeers usually targeted at individuals who have not yet gone through a circumcision (pagtutule in Filipino). In fact in our culture, there is even a derogatory term in the vernacular for it. What is a cultural norm for Filipinos is not generally practiced across the world, except for those of Jewish or Islamic descent. In Europe, a great majority of parents choose not to circumcise their children, some to avoid lingering anti-Semetic or Islamic sentiments in certain parts, while in some parts of Africa, it is done as a religious rite.
According to the Circumcision Reference Library (cirp.org), in 2009, 32.5% of North Americans had the procedure. Circinfo.net shares that UK has an average of25%, Australia 69%, and eight out of 27 countries in South East Asia have high rates of circumcision, with the Philippines leading at 93%. In Mexico, 10-30%, and Brazil and Columbia at 7% and 13%, respectively, of males are circumcised. Europe is behind in most surveys generally, with the UK at 12%, Slovenia at 4.5%, Denmark at 1.6%, and Finland at 7%.
One might think that circumcision is a colonial influence, but the numbers above indicate otherwise, with Spain itself at a low 2% only. The website Circlist.com theorizes that circumcision has become an integral part of our culture due most likely to our Islamic origins, even going as far as to cite our aboriginal heritage.
The general belief in the Philippines is that the procedure is a rite of passage, as well as something many medical practitioners deem necessary for hygiene and for the prevention of future diseases, as evidenced by summer’s prevalent “OPLAN TULE” in rural and marginalized areas. Complications, however, are common in those who have had improper procedures.