|I chanced upon this tsakuk by the river in Langka-Mammayang, upstream of Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya, one cloudy day in September 2010|
If the "uncut" guy were an English-speaking European, the conclusion would be that the Caucasian husband of a local maiden would also be like him. If the subject happened to be a local, not long after the discovery, the word supput (Ilocano and Isinay term for “uncircumcised”) would be appended to his first name as if it were an integral part of the one he was baptized with.
In addition to going after the tsakuk with a pocketful of river pebbles and our ever-present slingshots when our extrasensory perceptions said there was one about to sound off its irritating call in the ledda (bittuh in Isinay; talahib in Tagalog; scientific name Saccharum spontaneum) reeds nearby, we would be doing a number of preparations for when the big day comes.
Help from a Wild Plant
I don’t remember now who advised us to use the plant’s milk to make our “birds” ready for the cut but I do recall experimenting with it a couple of times and, indeed, the magic worked and gave me a half centimeter mileage each time (but not before I felt stinging pain at first followed by a burning itch that quickly went off once I jumped back to the soothing coolness of the ever friendly river).
- First, the school break meant freedom from school assignments, rough schoolmates, and daily classes that would otherwise stay on the way of getting one’s phallic wound heal quickly.
- Second, the good behavior enforced by the Lenten “curfew” meant one’s elders would not say no to a few coins to buy a bottle of gin or to ask one from grandmother’s mini store to use as “thank you” to the circumcision expert.
- Third, since the past few days of Lent saw one being able to do many chores as well as favors, the days after the cut would mean well deserved exemption from such chores as splitting wood, fetching water, taking the carabao to the hills, and riding one’s bike to town for some errands.
- And fourth, the bloodletting plus the throbbing pain days after the cut would pass for a cleansing of sorts and a penitencia that befits the season.