happy-periodI’ve been accused of writing about things that shouldn’t merit a space in the  Main Opinion pages of a respectable newspaper such as the one you’re holding now. Serious opinion readers — meaning those who can understand the content of a Michael Rama speech – emailed me that I should be transferred to the Entertainment Section where I would write pieces like “Why Kris Aquino is the Most Irritating Personality in Philippine Showbiz.”

So for a change, I’m now going to talk about something that is really political: Menstruation and Sanitary Napkins. Email me if you’re happy now.

I don’t like watching TV. The only reason I watch news and current affairs is that my job as a serious journalist requires me to regularly check if it’s actually Korina Sanchez, not Kris Aquino, who is the most annoying woman on local TV. This means I also have to endure the one great proponent of non sequitur in Philippine television: the commercials. And if there’s any type of commercial that really amazes me with its utter disregard for truth, it’s the ones for sanitary napkins.

You can’t miss these commercials. They always have girl models wearing white, tight-fitting jeans to emphasize the absence of a leakage. The models always jog, jump, roll in bed, go skateboarding, or ride a bicycle to convince viewers that this brand of sanitary napkin is so effective it can absorb the Yangtze River. These commercials fill our TV screen with flowers that float in the air to send the message that whatever tumultuous flow of events a girl is experiencing down there, it’s never yucky.

If it’s not flowers, it’s the model’s butt that fills your TV screen. Remember that commercial depicting a scene inside a movie house where the girl who has her period excuses herself to maybe get some more popcorn, and the camera zooms in on her butt? Everyone in the scene is happy, especially the boys in the next seats, because as the girl makes sure her butt sticks out in front of their faces, all they smell is sampaguita.

In these commercials, the girls are having a happy period.

I don’t know with you, but I still have to meet a girl who goes around town happily telling the boys she’s having a joyful period so come let’s play skipping rope. What my female friends tell me is that when they have their period, they gear up for a fight with their boyfriends for reasons not in any way related to infidelity. They want to fight for the sake of fighting. They arrive at their date late and sulky. If their boyfriends ask them what’s the matter, they say, “Why don’t you have your hair cut yet? You look old!”

Seriously, you can’t be happy if you’re suffering from cramps, if you’re having an acne attack, if you’re feeling bloated, if you’re feeling puffy, if your breasts are swollen, if your breasts are sore, if you feel ugly and fat and extremely sad, and if you crave for certain foods, which you have made sure can only be bought in the most expensive restaurant so your boyfriend can’t afford it and that would be another reason to fight him.

I’m not an advertising expert, but there must be a more honest way of selling sanitary napkins on TV. Menstruation has full of trivia that advertisers can use in creating napkin commercials. For example, it might be a shock to see all that blood, but do you know that the amount of loss is only about two tablespoons for an entire period?

You say an eating utensil has no business to be in a napkin commercial. But napkin companies can give it a try and they might come up with something. In the meantime, the only period I know to be really happy is the one at the end of this sentence, because it means I’m so out of here.

( SUN.STAR CEBU, FEB. 24, 2009 )