I was 14 when I lost my V-card. In the most cliche teen movie of ways, I lost it in a house party with a girl I just met. Alcohol was involved, so there was a definite lack of better judgment: doing it, and doing it in a bathroom. I went home thinking: this isn’t how I pictured myself losing my virginity. It’s been 10 years since, and while that night has long passed, my parents still haven’t talked to me about the birds and the bees.
Growing up in a typical Filipino household totally warranted an almost prudish upbringing. It started innocently enough, my parents covering my eyes whenever an intimate scene plays on TV. Then, nothing. While I was in fourth grade, I woke up one morning thinking I peed in my sleep. My underwear stuck to my boxers, with some sort of dried up glue-like thing that made it painful to take off. I asked my parents about it, and they didn’t tell me anything.
I slowly learned about sex in other ways — a passage in a romance novel I was definitely too young too read, a textbook definition for science class, in movies that made sex equal to kisses and hugs under a shared blanket. So when I finally saw what sex looked like — on the screen of a flip phone in fifth grade — it was so far from what I thought it would be. Granted, it was pornography, so it was sexually explicit, but that made me realize how much I didn’t know about it, and how much of that world were kept away from us. While I didn’t think of sex a lot back then, I remember it being all around me. I learned what a blowjob is and which sites have hentai (and consequently, how to delete my browsing history) from my classmates. Protection I figured out from reading those colorful condom packages, after thinking it was candy in the drugstore aisle. Sexual positions and orgasms, I learned from blogs and related links on Wikipedia. I also learned it’s not something people talk about in public. That if you do talk about it, it’s in hushed tones and a lot of “you know.” Filipino social norms dictat that talking about sex is absolutely immoral, maybe even more than actually having sex, and that you should just avoid talking about it at all costs.
If you do talk about it, it’s in hushed tones and a lot of “you know.” Filipino social norms dictate that talking about sex is absolutely immoral, maybe even more than actually having sex, and that you should just avoid talking about it at all costs.
And yet, no amount of religious shaming could stop a bunch of teenagers ready to give it up. My high school tried everything to curb it: a ridiculous one-feet-apart policy when you’re with the opposite sex, and a more ridiculous no posting of beach photos rule. They kept track of the ones going to open parties and who was dating who. Health classes had a sex education session, which only consisted of videos of abortion and the photos of HPVs and other STDs. All this only led to more curiosity: if they’re trying to discredit sex, then it must be something, right? Almost everyone in my class wanted to lose their virginity — I kept my mouth shut and pretended that I didn’t know what they were talking about. In reality, I was sneaking out of houses with used protection in my pocket. My parents, still, have not talked to me about sex. I knew better not to tell, or at the very least, I thought so.
I’m 24 now, and a lot has happened since then: studying in a very liberal university led to things, and having your own place definitely came with the freedom to invite anyone over. I’m finally comfortable talking about sex in general and at the same time, more careful doing it. There have been close calls for The Talk over the years — my Dad opening my unit when I had a friend-with-benefits over, my Mom organizing my drawers that had my protection — but they never did. I’m guessing they just assume I’m being responsible. Or they’re just thinking of me, to save me from the awkwardness of having a sit down on sex.
But honestly, I wouldn’t have minded.
It would’ve been nice to know what I had was a wet dream. Or that even if sex in porn looks painful, the moans were one of pleasure. It would’ve been okay to be told that condom “flavors” were just fragrances and not actual flavors, and that protected sex is the way to go all the time. It would’ve been perfect to hear from my Mom and Dad that sex isn’t immoral, sex isn’t dirty, and that it’s normal to think and do it. I spent so much of my teenage years hiding that I’ve done it in fear of shame and really, one awkward talk would’ve done the trick. It’s too late for it now — they can’t possibly be that naive to think I’m still a virgin — but I hope my generation’s the last to be shamed for thinking, liking, and having sex. Sex positivity is the thing now: Filipino norms, get on it.