Masturbation 101 Now Part of PDOS?

With sex and politics now hogging the headlines in the Philippines due to the heated debates on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, it is only unsurprising that one of the most taboo subjects on the matter would come out and become a headline itself – masturbation. The prominence of masturbation in the ongoing national debates on reproductive health was abetted by no less than senior senator Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who implied that masturbation is abortion.

“Well, if the man wants to satisfy himself by manipulating himself alone, if it is only for pleasure, then it interferes with the production of life. That is my belief. That is a matter of faith to me.”

If that is the case, then all people in the world are guilty of abortion, if we believe the old joke that says 98 percent of people masturbate, and the other 2 percent are just lying. The consensus though, among those doing statistical analysis on the prevalence of masturbation, is that around 90% of the total male population and 65% of the total female population masturbate from time to time.

Masturbation has become so “mainstream” it appears it is now part of the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) for the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). According to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) website, the main objective of the PDOS is “to provide OFWs with the means to cope with their new work environment, especially during their first few months of working abroad.”

In addition to that noble aim, our instructor at the latest PDOS I attended, told us that his ultimate objective was to help us last, to finish our contracts, and maybe renew, if the circumstances allow us to do so. And aside from the usual “what-to-do” and “know-your-rights-know-your-limitations” talk that has been the staple of all PDOSes that jaded OFWs are all too familiar with, our instructor came up with something new – masturbation.

Our “jolly” instructor devoted a whole chapter – almost 25 minutes – to the topic. He vouched for the effectiveness of masturbation in overcoming loneliness and homesickness – the mortal enemies of all OFWs. He also guaranteed for it as an effective tool against committing infidelity to your spouse. He asked every one of us, men and women, how often we masturbate. He used the Visayan equivalent of the word when asking the men, and the “f” word when asking the women. And he also suggested some “ideal” places to do the thing – in the shower, on your bed…

I and my companions from the same agency did not mind really, but I can sense the discomfort of the women, especially the unmarried ones, when asked how often do they do it, and where. Luckily, the discussion was handled professionally by us, and we finished the topic, all with a good laugh. At the day’s end, we all had our PDOS certificates.

On hindsight, I could say that our PDOS instructor went a little overboard about the subject. He could have touched the topic only in passing, so as not to be too vulgar to embarrass the ladies. Masturbation is all too familiar to us. Who amongst us doesn’t do it? After his arguments against the RH Bill at the Philippine Senate, I believe only Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile – maybe because of his fear to be accused of abortion, or maybe because he cannot do it anymore.

Still, this question begs to be answered by PDOS providers. Is masturbation now a part of PDOS? If yes, does it deserve a whole chapter of discussion?

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