TO lingam or not to lingam, that is the question.

I heard about this special type of massage from friends while we were in Singapore early last year. From their accounts, there was only one lingam establishment at that time and it was located somewhere in Mabolo.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The few ones who had been there claimed that the service was “clean,” meaning there was no hanky-panky. They did say, however, that the procedure included touching the client’s private parts but it was done for purposes of therapy and that if there was sexual gratification, it was only incidental.

In fact, I have a friend who until now swears to lingam’s healing properties.

The establishment was easy to spot, my friends said, because of the long line of cars parked near it between 8 p.m. and midnight. Either the clients were shy and sought the cover of darkness or the late hours were the only time they could unwind after a hard day’s work.

In any case, lingam became such a hit that more operators followed. It was the banana cue syndrome at work: you set up a banana cue stall in one corner, the next day there will be twenty similar stores in the same area.

The trouble was that unlike the banana cue vendors who sold exactly the same product as the competition, the new lingam operators introduced variations. The value-added services included, if we believe what we read, copulation.

The lingam joints, it is alleged, have become prostitution fronts. The moralists are incensed and the government is making a show of going against lingam operators hammer and tong.

The city treasurer was even quoted in a newspaper report as saying that they have not issued permits for lingam, only for other forms of massage.

Until then, I didn’t know that it is already the treasurer and not the mayor who issues business permits. And even then, why shouldn’t lingam fall under the category of “other forms of massage”?

This is not to say that the close scrutiny that lingam operations are now subjected to is not well-deserved.

In fact, it is long in coming. I was about to say I wondered why but isn’t government response always late?

I don’t care if the government bans lingam; I’m sure my friend can find his therapy somewhere else. But it disturbs me that the government and the moralists should be bothered only by implied acts of prostitution and not by the overt ones.

Drive around certain sections of the city beginning at 9 p.m. and you’ll see what I mean. Try walking from Gen. Maxilom Ave. near the old Rustan’s building to the corner of Juana Osmeña and Aboitiz Sts. about that time and I’ll tell you how big a liar you are if you say you haven’t met a girl or her pimp offering you a “good time.”

Cruise along Jakosalem St. starting at the corner of Sanciangko St. then turn left to P. del Rosario St. up to the corner of Osmeña Blvd. and consider yourself lucky if you’re not chased by pimps vending cheap thrills.

All these soliciting activities are done every night. Unless they’re blind, the moralists see these. The police certainly know these. So why isn’t anyone decrying these open acts of prostitution? Why hasn’t anyone at City Hall proclaimed that he/she has not issued a license for these nocturnal activities? What is sauce for the gander isn’t sauce for the goose?

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)