Lingam massage gets 'secret' boost

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

CEBU CITY -- Japanese, Korean and Chinese tour operators include lingam massage in the menu of services they offer visitors to Cebu, said Provincial Women's Commission (PWC) chief Agnes Magpale Friday.

Stunned by the revelation, Magpale, who also chairs the committee on women and children of the Provincial Board (PB), said she will write Johnie Lim, president of the Spa and Wellness Association of Cebu (Swac), and will also ask for a meeting with Lim so he can police the Swac's ranks.

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She said the revelation was made in a letter she received from a lingam massage operator, whom she requested reporters not to name yet.

"The letter claims that some tour operators include lingam massage services in their menu," Magpale told reporters. The letter sender also sent a copy to Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

Attached to the letter was a certification from the Department of Health (DOH) signed by Secretary Esperanza Cabral, of the DOH Committee for Examiners for Massage Therapy.

Interviewed separately, Lim said Swac wants Lapu-Lapu City officials to require the group's endorsement before they issue a business permit to a massage parlor.

"I myself am not moralist, but lingam is really immoral," the Swac president told Sun.Star Cebu. Swac officers met with Mayor Paz Radaza Friday to discuss how to deal with lingam massage and to prevent prostitution from tainting the industry's image.

Both parties weren't able to come up with a solution, but their inputs will be reviewed by City Council laws committee chairman Florito Pozon and health committee chairman Cornelio Pahang, who went to the meeting.

Marissa Puche, Swac vice president, said each massage parlor should have one licensed therapist and its attendants should have training certificates.

But Lim said the idea is not workable because Cebu only has 30 licensed therapists, while over 200 massage establishments have mushroomed in Metro Cebu alone.

He said Swac promotes massage to tourists, but not lingam.

"We organized the spa association to protect the interest of our clients and to erase the thought that we are fronts for prostitution," he said.

Radaza said all they can do, for now, is stick to requirements when a massage parlor applies for a permit, while the council studies a regulatory ordinance.

The city health office recommended last Tuesday the closure of a massage parlor inside the Marina Mall because it allegedly lacks a business permit and other requirements from City Hall. It also allegedly offers lingam massage service.

The city legal office has yet to decide on the recommendation.

At Capitol, Magpale said she will study the letter and will present it during the PWC meeting on July 27. She clarified the PWC is studying the issue, not just making an "emotional outburst" on lingam massage. She said she has been working on the issue for six months now.

The operator who wrote Magpale and Cardinal Vidal also said lingam massage is accepted as a form of "psycho-therapeutic" or a stress-reducing massage.

"It is believed that due to the men's competitive behavior, he leads a very stressful life and then he keeps most of his stress in the abdomen and pelvic area, thus he needs to release it," the letter added.

"Our shop is attracting both domestic and international tourists not because it enticed (them) to have sex but to avail (themselves) of the service, believing that it is an alternative therapy," it added.

In Mandaue, alleged lingam massage parlors are still under scrutiny, and two establishments that were ordered closed last week remained shut Friday.

Apparently, their attendants still lacked the necessary heath cards.

However, even if they do get their health cards, City Administrator Briccio Boholst will still not allow the establishments to operate because the city is still reviewing the nature of their services.

Instead of the City Council forming a fact-finding board to check on these massage parlors, "we may just require them to submit a detailed explanation of the extent of their services to their clients."

Aside from lingam massage, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes is focusing his attention on bars and beerhouses that offer lewd shows. He ordered city officials to review the records of all business establishments and see if they have complied with all the requirements.

Cortes said Dr. Rene Bullecer, former Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board (Caib) chairman, has committed to help the city address the problem.

The mayor also asked Councilor Nenita Layese, a lawyer, to review laws and see if there is a need to amend or create a new ordinance governing these establishments.

Last week, Cortes ordered Authentic Lingam Massage and 789 Lingam Massage to cease operations, as both establishments lacked sanitary permits and their attendants have no health cards. It was also discovered 789 Lingam Massage has an expired business permit.

Last Thursday, Boholst said the two massage parlors paid the required fees for the third quarter but their attendants still have to obtain health cards.

When asked if the city will lift the cease-and-desist order once the two massage parlors comply with all the requirements, Boholst invoked a provision of the permit that states: "This permit is subject to revocation when public interest, safety and welfare so require." (RSA/AIV/OCP of Sun.Star Cebu)

Lingam massage gets secret boost

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