tuliFOR once, let’s get serious here.

There’s crisis everywhere, earthquakes, tsunamis, Joavan Fernandez. In fact the Lord was almost forced to return for the Second Coming last May 21 because of our wicked ways. We would be remiss in our duty as citizens of the world if we keep making fun of things. So for today, allow me to write about a topic of extreme global importance: the foreskin.

And not just the foreskin but also circumcision, the act of removing this poor little loose fold of skin from its base attachment, the penis. The relevance here is that it’s summer, the time of year when civic organizations and politicians get frantic about cutting foreskins off little boys’ penises in the slums as if it’s Erection Day tomorrow. Yes, I said Election Day, read it again.

I will spare you the trouble of searching for the definition of “foreskin” in the Internet, because when I Googled the word yesterday, an army of penises popped

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up in my computer screen, throwing me off my seat.

I have never seen so many penises in my life, honestly. If there’s a World Summit of Penises, it would look like it. Every race was represented. There were yellow penises, white penises, black penises, blue, green, red, checkered, etc.

To my officemates who saw the penises, too, now you know it was pure academic research on my part. You may now apologize to me for giving me that look.

So here’s an official definition from one medical website: “In male human anatomy, the foreskin is a generally retractable double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane that covers the glans penis and protects the urinary meatus when the penis is not erect. It is also described as the prepuce, a technically broader term that also includes the clitoral hood in women, to which the foreskin is embryonically homologous.”

If that sounds too classroom textbook to you, here’s a more practical definition from urbandictionary.com: a foreskin is “an extra portion of skin located at the tip of an uncircumcised penis; increases intercourse tenfold.” You can forget about the intercourse part. It’s important, but there are kids around. Besides, it’s a myth.

Circumcision is the act of removing the foreskin, making the penis, well, a skin shorter. It “dates back to prehistoric times and is one of the oldest surgical operations known to have been performed by people,” the source said. Meaning, there have been circumcisions during prehistoric times that were performed by non-people, like penguins and three-celled amoeba.

Circumcision is said to have religious, cultural and hygiene significance. But unless your father is Moses, circumcision in the country has little to do with performing a religious obligation. I still have to see an Operation Tuli where the boys, the medical staff and members of the community prayed the Rosary and offered the detached foreskins to the Birhen sa Regla for the gift of fertility.

It’s a cultural thing for most of us. As far as we boys were concerned back then, it was about not being made a laughingstock in school. Everybody’s getting sliced, so we might get sliced as well. There’s no experience more embarrassing than graduating from elementary with an extra piece of skin still hanging loose somewhere.

Circumcision made us feel like we were real big men now, ready to take on manly tasks like writing love letters to the prettiest girl in class, or running for the Senate. And how we looked cute in our fathers’ shirts! We would realize the benefits of hygiene much later, when we started to miss the peculiar smell of the uncircumcised loser boy down there.

What about the foreskins? What happened to them? Where did they go? That’s a valid question. Let me Google it right now, while the officemates are not looking.

(SUN.STAR CEBU, MAY 31)