Exactly two years ago, April 15, I took the vow of a married life, a vow far from the previous vocation I was contemplating on--priesthood. But how far apart they are, or, are they really far apart?
Maybe yes, because priesthood, for all its purported "sacredness," is devoid not only of sex; more profoundly, it is devoid of real life struggles (that are sometimes bloody), pains, frustrations, and depressions that almost always characterize married life in innumerable instances. Okay, priests took part in mobbish activities being parlayed as citizens actions but these hardly qualify as real life struggles. This solidarity kuno with the masang Pilipino is pure bull#%$%!
Let's move on. First, sex is mentioned not because priests don't know anything about it. On the contrary, many priests are very good at it, whether they do it with a male or with a female partner. Probably four in 10 Filipino Catholics, at least those who know some priests, could tell you about a priest who is having sexual affairs, again, either with a male or female partner.
In the institution where I once belonged, sex among and between males, i.e. priest-to-priest, priest-to-male student, was more prevalent than sex between opposite sexes. A story was even told about these two priests caught offhand kissing one steamy Saturday night (as in the photo below, thanks to flickr.com and dailycontibutor.com) right in the living room of the storied Father's House. The witness, or the one who caught them, was the student council president. He had gone to the Father's House to show the VCD titles to be shown that night for their (the priests') approval. The fathers were the MTRCB of that institution, so they had to approve for viewing movies that we students with raging hormones wanted to view. Unfortunately for them, the council president did not knock first before entering. So unbiblical was he, I would tease him later, about his "revelation." But he could have a different version or understanding of that biblical knocking: knock and you shall be opened, open and you shall be knocked out! It was a knock out, indeed!
But there was an aberration to the usual male-on-male sex in that institution as another priest was rumored to have trysts with one of the lavanderas there. It turned out the rumor was true! One early morning around 4 AM, the kusinero was surprised to see the priest emerging from the washroom in such unholy hour. He did not pay much attention and the priest casually told him he was trying to fix some leaking pipes. Good gracious, padre tubero, you can have it fixed by someone later in the day, right? A couple of minutes later, the subject laundrywoman emerged from the same washroom and hurriedly made her way to the exit without a word. The kusinero was baffled, to say the least. He thought the leak was a major one it required two people to fix it pronto! That incident earned the leaking, este, the plumbing priest the infamous monicker—tuberong walang gamit. I contested the description by arguing that he has with him a lethal plumbing tool built right in between his legs. I was right; a few months later, poor lavandera was “dismissed” for the better. Come December, one of my classmates who had gone home for vacation and who happened to be kababaryo of tuberong walang gamit saw the poor lavandera in their barrio with her tummy bloating. Bad plumbing!
I can fill all the allowable space within this post with stories of male-to-male sex in that place we, former wards, now call it The Hill, but I'd rather go for the deserve-the-best-for-last route. If you can wait any further, I am collaborating on a book that we hope to publish sometime this year. The book, of course, will contain stories of struggles and strangles of you-know-what. Seriously, we are trying to tell our stories, a no-holds-barred telling of the story of everything we know about The Hill from an insider's point of view, stories that will guarantee to arouse and enrage the reader, depending of course of his/her preferences, sexual or otherwise.
So much for the plug, the bottom line here as far as priests and sex go: priests, like any average male, craves for sex. There is nothing abnormal and disturbing about this, only that some of them lack discretion (when performing it, especially with their male partners.)
Priests sire babies, save for those who lacked the numbers (sperm count), and mostly support them and their mothers later on, even sending the kids to Catholic schools where female students were exhorted to keep their hymen intact until the first night after their wedding. In the diocese where I came from, an acquaintance once told me that 80% of our priests were carrying out affairs, mostly with women (thank God!). I'm not sure as of this writing what's the percentage like these days. But I know several of them who have sired children who were forced to spend their formative years with their mothers, away from their "fathers."
Lest I be accused of bastardizing the “sanctity” of the priestly vocation (one priest friend once told me the ‘sanc’ is now gone’ only ‘tity’ remains), I would like to make it clear that I still have respect left for some well-meaning priests who are trying to make a difference in their chosen vocations in the context of the oppressively antiquated and equally pretentious hierarchical church. I believe that priestly institution sorely needs an updating for it to be able to respond effectively and efficiently to the current realities and challenges that shape and influence our world today and the future.
Unlike priesthood, marriage is more attuned to reality if we go by how people who profess this vocation deal and respond with the daily realities and challenges of poverty, homelessness, joblessness brought about by severely contracting economies worldwide, and helplessness in the face of inhumanity. A multitude of those who profess this vocation worry about their existence on a daily basis. To them, salvation is rice on the table, minus the ulam and dessert. Shelter and clothing are options, not standard features. Of course, they could opt but that would cost more.
Marriage is not just about sex; it is also about sharing the bills and equal responsibility of raising responsible children to become responsible citizens later on. Marriage has its own perks and rewards, but it also has its fair share of “punishments.” Just think of your personal exemptions when paying your taxes to the BIR; but remember to be home by 12 PM. Otherwise . . .
Unlike marriage, priestly vocation comes loaded with features not found or not available in marriage. When Padre Dominic or Ignacio moralize about poverty and hunger and the need to do more to lessen these evils, they are speaking from a position of comfort. Let me simplify: they are telling you to follow what they preach, and not what they do! So unchristian that Gandhi once declared “I love you Christ, but I hate you Christians.”
You may ask why I chose a featureless vocation. My answer: I’m a realist and while I live in the NOW, I nurture a simple vision of an egalitarian future although I’m aware this is next to impossible. I could stand the indifference and I choose to be as human as possible, minus the pretentions of sanctity. I find more colors and hues in marriage; I only saw black and white before, and got close to becoming blind. And though it came late, I realized that the convento or any of its social extentions is such a small place to party and play. I don’t believe in ecclesiastical power, much more bask in its glory, although it is very much in play in the land of Gaudencio and Gloria and their gang of zealous katekistas.
Next post, I will be writing on sex and tax. Interesting? Share your thoughts.