I was nearly a teener when I had my first period. That Tuesday, I played piko, sipa bola, and climbed the sampaloc and starfruit trees. Incidentally, my playmates and I found a dying kid-Maya bird. We thought he deserves a funeral, so we gave him one. We stick-plowed some portion near a school’s yard. As I was about to bury the poultry angel, one of my playmates screamed as she saw blood marks on my shorts. I was so shocked I couldn’t scream. I told them this shall remain as a big secret. I’d never ever play with them should there be any tiny leak of information. I walked (legs apart) as fast as I can as I tried to reach home. It was my late grandmother who witnessed my cow crying. As the situation demanded, she explained about the menstruation stuff.
Yes, the period has been discussed in a couple of Science subjects before that fated day. But apart from that, we never really talked about it at home. That time, the elders thought it’s either too early or too bold to tackle. That Tuesday was declared a local holiday because it was Jose Rizal’s birthday. I remembered well because the succeeding day was my assigned day to recite Panatang Makabayan as part of the regular flag ceremony (in some days I was randomly assigned to raise and/or fold the flag, etc.) It was too uncomfortable then because of the newest biological change that happened to me. I functioned like a robot . Whew, improper orientation is ridiculous.
The peak of my enlightenment happened when I participated in the Population Commission (PopCom) quiz bee. But years before that, I remember exchanging notes with selected classmates-pals about menstruation and related stuff:
(a) I was told not to bathe the entire duration of red days. Sooner, I didn’t. As much as I respect the elders, I explained to them that it’s so unhygienic and has no scientific basis. “We know better than you, we’ve been there, blah blah…”
(b) Classmate # 1 was told by her aunt to jump off the stairs so the period would be shorten from the ordinary seven to three days. The fool in me envied her. I thought it was not fair that no one told me to jump off the stairs.
(c) Classmate # 2 was obliged by her mother to wash her face by blood (first occurrence) to avoid getting pimples. I almost crazily believed because she really got very nice skin. But then I didn’t envy her because I thought that’s purely yucky. There’s a related myth: to wash your eyes by pee to cure the sore eyes. Double yuckyness.
(d) Classmate # 3 was told by her sister that once she had her period, she’ll get pregnant anytime if she’s kissed (even on the cheeks). And just when we were well-oriented by our Science teacher about the wonders of reproduction system, we thought her sister was oddly just trying to scare her. She’s just being too protective. That’s the better way to look at it.
(e) That virginity would be lost by riding a bike. But we were intense bike riders especially during 6th grade.
(f) That the one who had her first period too early is the pinakamalandi in the batch. Lol. Lol. and Lol.
(g) And a lot of things = myths
Hence, I nodded and sighed as I read the results of the recent survey on BodyLife (really one word) IQ study. Of the 1,800 (women aged 12 to 24) respondents from six Asian countries, Filipinas were with the biggest information gap about body knowledge. The online survey covered questions on woman’s body, female biology, pregnancy, virginity and health.
“Young women from two countries with the lowest body-knowledge IQ scores—the Philippines and India—expressed the most satisfaction with the education they received, suggesting that lack of knowledge is self-perpetuating because ‘you don’t know what you don’t know,’” the paper said.
With the exception of respondents in Singapore, the other young women surveyed revealed that their top sources of female body-knowledge were their close friends, followed by their mothers and their older sisters.
You know how these myths are being passed from one generation to the other. But I didn’t expect it is still this worse as of today. Although these are sometimes discussed with younger ones in our family/among relatives, these are clearly explained to them why they are the so-called myths and why such misinformation survived. Proper orientation should really be given to young women. And well, I think awareness like love and charity should begin at home.
0 thoughts on “Pinays on awareness”
that is the difficulty when elderly are too emabarassed to discuss stuff like these to kids.
palagay ko sa proper na paliwanagan maiintindihan ng bata.
dati kasi inaasar ko yung kapatid kong babae..hala lagot may lalabas na mumo.
you’re right, but parents of certain generation were too embarrassed to even discuss their own bodies. my mom told me when i was about 11 that babies come out from the tip of the toe nails (lol). unbelievable! and when i asked about blood stains on her house dress, she would tell me weird stories like she accidentally sat on nails, or it was the neighbor’s nganga on her, not blood. but thank goodness, my mom and aunts didn’t tell me any myths about menstruation. but early on, i knew it was painful because i witnessed my mom’s “sufferings” every month until her hysterectomy when i was 13. unfortunately, i inherited her problem.:(
the myths i grew up with were a/b/c. i followed the not bathing thing until i wisened up.
i had little educ from elders about it (me being the only girl in four boys), but it somehow appeared every month without fail. i haven’t had a failure, not once. kaya siguro di ako makabuo buo eh 😦
This post is SO interesting. Let me pose another theory, this one from my own experience.
Let’s face it: The Philippines is a nurse farm. My mom is a nurse, legions of my aunts and cousins were nurses. Many of us grew up without our mothers, because a lot of them chose to work overseas. So, other than the prefunctory health class, there really wasn’t a lot of close women to talk to about your period–mostly yayas (and their superstitions) or your peers who didn’t know anything about it as well. I was lucky that when it happened to me, my mom was home on vacation. (It happened in the middle of a Dungeons & Dragons game with my brother and male cousins. I KNEW it happened and had to make some lame excuse about leaving the role-playing game at hand, lol.)
Even then, I wasn’t spared from the “jump from the stairs” bit. My yaya made sure, despite many an eye-roll from my mother. Thankfully no face-washing, but my yaya did have me pour three tabo-fuls of water on myself, clothes and all, so that supposedly my period would only last three days. That DIDN’T work. Haha.
haaay, i’ve heard these myths already! yucky talaga yung you have to wash your face with your blood. eeekkk!!!
i remember when i had my first period, i was 9 going on 10. i ate chocolate the previous night, so when i saw the blood (brownish), i though the chocolate got out of my system! he! he!
I thought it was not fair that no one told me to jump off the stairs.>>>whoops!
That the one who had her first period too early is the pinakamalandi in the batch>>> hahaha…
LOL…ok,letter C takes the cake. that’s really yucky. happy weekend, wits!
they didn’t have formal lectures on the menstrual cycle back then. but when i first had mine, i experienced not bathing, jumping (sans the stairs because we lived in a duplex), and (gasp!) the bloody facial wash. i didn’t know better then! LOL
wow. ms. jo.. PopCom quiz bee contestant ka rin pala.
.-= juli´s last blog ..post birthday swimming party 😀 =-.