DISCUSSING the banner story of today’s issue of Superbalita yesterday, news editor Roger Vallena and I were stumped on how to treat the lingam story without offending the sensibilities of our readers. Lingam is just the kind of topic that arouses the libidinous interest of Superbalita’s male readers.

Many of the Bisaya words that relate to sex—be it the act or the body part—have a gutter-like sound to them that I don’t feel comfortable saying or printing. Each has its nuance, leaving Roger and me to take a much longer time to discuss how to write the headline.

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This is the story in a nutshell: A team of law enforcers raiding a massage parlor somewhere in Cebu City found two women massaging a naked man. One was working on the head and the other, on the other head, if you know what I mean. The raiding team found this act to be tantamount to “performing pornography or exhibiting indecent shows/immoral plays.” The owner or operator of the massage parlor was arrested and charged.

Roger and I have to squeeze this story into three words or so for the banner headline.

Bisaya words that have the vowels “o-e-u” and the consonants “t-n-l-k” to describe the male sexual organ are a no-no, I told Roger, but the word “lingam” should be in the headline. Roger was scratching his hair-depleted head. (Ooops. Sorry.)

I told Roger too that somewhere in the subhead (the brief line under the headline) the act of lingam should be described to put in context the headline since not all our readers, especially the religious, know what lingam is. Some might think it’s “bird” in Bisaya with typo error. (Oh my, bird is sexually connotative too.)

In lingam massage, it is described in one series of Superbalita’s “From Junquera With Love,” a man’s personal pride is rubbed and kneaded to stimulate circulation of the blood in that region. The man would have to be impotent not to get aroused.

What happens after the lingam massage, the masseuse and the client fall in love and get married or wake up to the realization that they are not meant for each other. At least this is how the cubicle romance of the characters in Fred Monternel’s “From Junquera With Love” either ends.

After racking our brains, we decided to use a Bisaya term that briefly and truthfully describes lingam: “ugay sa kinatawo.” (A translation requires parental guidance.) We conceded the subhead to the use of a more salacious Bisaya description of lingam.

We eliminated “hinol” because it only means “to grope” and lingam, according to my lawyer friend who has tried it, is more than just groping. A man doesn’t get excited by just being groped.

The front page headline of Superbalita today screams “Lingam owner gikiha” and carries the subhead “Kay attendant naaktuhang nag-ugay sa kinatawo sa lalake nga hubo tanan ang lawas.” Story on Page 3. Don’t expect a picture though.

Lingam has given me and Roger problems not related to the ban or whatever it is that some public officials want to do with the kind of massage that my friend has described as spiritual and transcendental.

I’ve never used so many bastos words in discussing a story with a male editor than this lingam thing. And yesterday found me distracted by Roger’s frequent scratching of his head.