How to Explain Tuli to Your Little Boy

Circumcision or tuli is a typical coming-of-age tradition in the country, But how do you explain such a rite to your young man?


By: Ryan Elnar

It’s that time of the year once again where the summer heat kicks in. For most, this means spending time on the beach to cool down, a chance to visit old folks in the provinces, or to simply have more time with friends, especially for teens.

However, it is also during this period wherein a seemingly ‘life-changing’ event happens in a man’s life. Circumcision, known as tuli in the Philippines, has mainly been a tradition in the country. Instead of during infancy, Filipino parents oftentimes choose to have it done when their boys reach the age of eight (8) to twelve (12). If you choose the latter, there are basically two (2) things you need to manage for your young man.


Boys see this as a major episode as this is the first and possibly the only major operation they will have to undergo in their entire life. While it is easy to think that there is no need to make a big fuss about it, parents need to understand that it is normal for the young to fear such procedure.

It is at this stage where a father’s role to his young man is important. Other than facing the ridicule from friends by not being circumcised, let them know there are health benefits underlying this practice.

They may not understand it at a young age, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), those circumcised have a lesser risk of acquiring some sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and herpes. If done with newborns, it significantly reduces the risk of urinary tract infections during the first year.

In simple terms, tell them that circumcision makes it easier to maintain the end of their penis clean, thus preventing any possible infection. Likewise, explain to them that all boys undergo this one-time ritual before reaching manhood. This would somehow help them prepare emotionally.


In the old practice especially in the provinces, circumcision is done by chopping the boy’s foreskin with a knife or a bolo. As part of its preparation, the boy chews guava leaves and uses it as a sanitizer and bandage after the procedure is done. After which, he is asked to jump into a nearby river to wash the wounds.

Swelling usually occurs, to which Filipinos normally term it as ‘nangangamatis,’ since it sometimes takes a form similar to a tomato.

Luckily for today’s generation, a formal and safer procedure is available in modern hospitals. Guava leaves are no longer needed as application of sanitizing agents and even anesthesia is available, thus, eliminating the pain during the operation. Imagine the pain, however, after its effects wear off.

Medicines such as pain relievers and antibiotics are prescribed as well, coupled with daily cleaning to reduce the risk of infection. During the healing stage, it is recommended for him to wear loose shorts or even skirts. It may take up to two (2) weeks for the wound to dry up.

Personally, I would choose the latter for more peace of mind.

While this is only a one-time experience for him, make it count by making your child remember that his dad was with him during this memorable event in his life.

Ryan Elnar is a proud Filipino daddy blogger. He started Dad and More to share the stories of his journey in raising a family. Ryan believes that beyond formal education, discipline and values are far more important heritage a parent can give to his children.

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