WHEN my first child was born, I asked for tips from my fellow mothers on the terms they used when their children started asking about their sex.

For the girl, it’s “flower,” and for the boy, it’s “bird.”

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No different from the terms our older househelpers taught their own children: “plawer” for the girls and “langgam” for the boys.

Six months ago, I first heard about lingam massage parlors. The word evoked “langgam.”

Put “lingam” beside “massage” and I got the contextual meaning. No-brainer actually.

A friend confirmed my guess; “lingam” means penis in Sanskrit. So, why did government authorities allow such parlors? Was the government sleeping on its job?

Any airport driver will even boastingly volunteer this information. He must get some commission; that much I gathered.

He first learned about it from a foreigner. Upon boarding his car, the foreigner asked to be brought immediately to one such parlor recently ordered closed by Mandaue mayor Jonas Cortes.

Our talkative driver said the foreigner didn’t want to be looking out for a taxi after the service. So, he invited the driver to join him. The modus, he said, was the regular massage for P500, and when this was done, the masseuse would say “it was time for the other service.” Shell out another P400, and the lingam massage would begin.

I wanted to camp out across one such massage parlor and observe if business was brisk.

Wouldn’t it have been interesting if I saw some familiar faces entering the joint? So I called up my lady friends; was anyone game? Their husbands advised against it, so my camping trip never materialized.

These Mandaue spas have until July 20 to provide the Mandaue government with the required documents, either sanitary permits, health cards or business permits. I hope Mayor Cortes is doing an Elliot Ness, the US Bureau of Prohibition’s hero in the 1920s.

Unable to pin down Chicago crime lord Al Capone of various murders, bootlegging and other illegal activities, Ness devised an ingenious way of hauling Capone to prison.

He arrested Capone for tax evasion, a charge that successfully stuck, and slapped an eleven-year imprisonment sentence, which eventually led to his crumbling fortune and poor health.

The owners say their massage parlors are not fronts for prostitution services. Rather, they provide healing services for patients with prostate problems. Of course, under the circumstances, that’s their only alternative to justify their operations.

If for medical purposes, do the clients there bear prescriptions from their doctors for such services? If for prostate cure, shouldn’t lingam services rightfully be in hospitals and medical clinics? But then, hospitals don’t recommend lingam as aid for masturbation, right?

Told of the owners’ justification, Gov. Gwen Garcia said, “Let’s not be hypocrites here. Don’t tell me all men who go there have problems with their prostate glands.”

The good governor hit the nail right on the head; oops! malicious pun not intended. Indeed, let’s call a spade, a spade!

Mayor Cortes, the Anti-Indecency Board and the Provincial Women’s Commission should close these establishments forever.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)