“Gusto ko pong maging binata.” the seemingly teary-eyed nine-year-old boy, Carl Patrick, said when asked why he wanted to get circumcised.
As early as 7 o’clock in the morning, the young boys averaging 11 years old lined up by the curb leading to the entrance of the Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) Covered Court just across the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima (NSOLF). The queue of the would-be initiates included their eager fathers, mothers, lolas, and titas – impatiently awaiting the commencement of their boys’ rite of passage to adulthood.
But not all the boys could just easily go through the procedure. Each one of them had to be screened if the sleeve of the penis’ skin and the mucosal tissue are already separated from the glans. Only then were they registered under the list labelled “Tagpos” and then ushered inside the covered court. There, they were briefed on what to do before and after the circumcision procedure.
Three rows of five tables each were laid out over the covered basketball court, each table accommodating two boys – one on either side. As the heat of the summer permeated the covered court, so did the number of boys outside the street grew to a crowd seemingly mobbing the entrance gate. The surgical teams together with the FUMC and VMC nurses started on their patients atop the makeshift operating tables.
The boys braved the tensest moment of their lives. Not a scream nor a sob was heard, yet a snivelling was distinctly audible. The table of the pharmacy department of FUMC started to get busy as the first batch of newly circumcised boys approached for analgesics, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics.
Led by Dr. Neil Mendoza, Chair of Department of Surgery of Fatima University Medical Center (FUMC) and Dr. Edilberto Cavaneyro, Chair of Department of Surgery of Valenzuela Medical Center, the synergy of the consortium finished the day and stitched up a total of 239 “initiates”.
Carl Patrick, carefully walking on tentative pace, approached the pharmacy table. Smiling amidst his now dried eyes, he said: “Tapos na po. Salamat po”.