HIV alert… the vernacular of sex

448 fresh HIV cases reported for the first month of the year … 118 of the new HIV patients belong to the 15 to 24 age bracket. … 50% or 224 patients are from Metro Manila, 16% from the Calabarzon, 7% from Davao region, 4% from Western Visayas … epic failure of sex education, such as it is.

SEX EDUCATION: Comic Failure of Language
By Godofredo U. Stuart, MD

As language, Filipino is very expressive and illustrative. I often marvel at its descriptive powers, a single word that will need half a dozen or more English words to describe: umaampiyas. Or words that wax poetic: takip-silim, agaw dilim, bukang liwayway. It’s a language that lends to the Pinoys’ penchant and delight for word play, never at a loss in coining words that become mainstream: trapos, epal, promdi. Its vowel-rich words lend to the staccato and cadence of Rap music. But when it comes to the language of sex, the vernacular fails—dreadfully—and looks to English for rescue.

The failure is widespread—in schools, in media, and homes. A failure that is both comic and stupid.  Read on…


  1. Absolutely wonderful article. I particularly enjoyed the good Doctor’s admonition about the list of explicit sex words:

    “While you read through the list, say it out loud—ten, twenty times—to batter and attenuate that brain center of colonial prudishness.”

    Thank you. I’m changing my mind about Philippine journalism, actually. I’ve been reading some very good articles hereabouts lately.

  2. i dont quite understand his points:

    1) is he against formal words in describing sex organs and acts? (i think so, given his appreciation for expressiveness?)

    2) is he against english words (formal/otherwise)?

    3) does he think that “bastos pakinggan” isnt a real thing? or should we just ignore the discomfort?

    i do agree that there is sense in which discussing sex in pop culture media is sorely lacking. this is what we need: to re-“define” vernacular sex words is to put them into adult conversation (in the media/entertainment) and out of sex comedies (exclusively).

    where are the TV shows or movies where people talk about sex (having it, wanting it), in an adult setting? as i understand it, all societies go thru this. the us in particular, in the 50s and before, couldnt discuss sex as an adult topic. In i love lucy, they only kissed once, despite being a married couple. Mary tyler moore was a single gal wanting sex.