A Sexual Revolution in the Boondocks?
by Godofredo U. Stuart Jr.

sim—in Tagalog—means sourness. When I first heard the women use it in giggly sexual chitchat—may asim pa—I sort of intuited what it meant: sex appeal. I was away when the word acquired its double entendre. Of course, I wondered why asim—which in English means acidic, tart, vinegary, rancid, off, foul, fetid—rather than tamis, which means sweet.

May asim pa (still have sex appeal) seems to have been first used more than two decades ago—to boot, by a celebrity. It has persisted in the raunchy patois of sexual narratives. Erap was known to have used it often in his social commentaries. Its use in radio and television has helped pushed it into mainstream colloquialism. Recently, it was used as comic vitriol in an episode of the Enrile-Santiago crossfire, adding titillation to their long-standing feud.

In my part of the boondocks, asim comes up often in the storytelling of middle aged women—of course, younger and older women, too—indulging and reveling, sometimes boastful and unashamed, in their often illicit sexual affairs. I have listened, amused and incredulous, at their own version of women's lib, a rural sexual revolution.

At home base, Pulang Lupa has had its share of the asim stories, and it ceased being amusing long ago. Almost all the women in the staff have been short-lived hires—within a month, two at the most, they'd be caught in a relationship with one of the men. I could not wear blinders. There is a need, of course, for a sense of propriety. Also,there is always the possibility of pregnancy. And, there have been threats from suspicious husbands, which compels me to mention the cold case murder of my caretaker—a suspected victim of a crime of passion or revenge—who was having a dalliance with my brother's caretaker's wife, caught by the husband who witnessed the dastardly affair from high up a coconut tree.

I had to rewrite some sections in the Pulang Lupa Book of Rules—like, No in-house romances; No hanky-panky; Do-not-enter zones—of course, a lost cause. Inevitably, eventually, sooner than later, there is the head-on collision of asim and libog (libido), for which the men—poor helpless victims they are—always try put blame on the women as evil seductresses, until I give them a mouthful of expletives on not being able to keep their zippers zipped or their thingamajigs on rein.

Here are a few asim short-shorts, of course, the names have been changed to protect the victims and victimizers.

Sally, forty-something, left her husband for a tricycle driver. The tricycle driver's wife asked me if I could convince the husband to take her as replacement for his wife. He refused the offer. Anyway, Sally returned a few months later. Found out her sexual appeal didn't last. Hindi tumagal ang asim niya.

Ana, 40-some, had it for 22-year old Noriel. Noriel wakened to find someone vigorously clutching at his thingamajig. Later, she told me she knew it was wrong, but was attracted to the young man. And, also, that she had needs. Asim needs.

Salvacion, early 50s, had the hots for just-turned-18 Marlon. She pranced around in plunging necklines, a blouse strap always fashionable hanging down one shoulder, or tight-as-banana outfits defining her 50-year-old lumpy-bumpiness. Poor Marlon never had a chance. Score 10 points for asim.

Corazon, 40-something, aka Angel as cell-phone alias, was forever searching for a man. Hangang may asim pa—as long as there's sex appeal—she would tell me, laughing about it. She loved the texting part of the romance, and lacking the beauty of a belle, never minded being rebuffed, more often than not, when she met with the text mates.

Many more stories about my staff, but they might bore you sour and silly. Enough to say, I have made a hiring rule change: No more women.

Down the village, the same asim stories abound — women taking breaks from the tedium of their lives, sexual sabbaticals if you will, leaving their husbands to test their asim, many to return repentant and disillusioned, some unabashed and delighting in the notoriety, parrying off the fleeting jealousy and snickering gossip.

It continues to be the subject of lighthearted talk of both men and women. Unlike older men whose libog or libido could last a lifetime, especially now, further fortified and extended by pharmaceuticals—women understand asim for what it is, a call of the wild, bounded by time, gone sooner than later. As the women say, why not seek one more lustful adventure?

Asim, I ponder its whence. From science, I thought of mutated sex pheromones gone awry. From society, I ponder the contribution of excessive servings of sexuality by media, celebrities, movies, and television. From Mother Nature, I wonder on some foodstuff root, plant, stems or leaves with unrecognized aphrodisiac effects supplementing their meager diets.

Or, it could be the word itself—asim—that lit the fuse, that gave women pause, that awakened the why-not notion, that helped open the doors wider for the sexual revolution that has slowly trickled down to the women in the boondocks. I have been surprised and troubled by the precocious sexuality of the young. Lamenting the mahinhin probinsyana forever lost to fashion and modernity. Amused by a new feminism, self-assured and adventurous, maybe, too aware of their power over men.

And for middle aged women in the boondocks, aroused by the possibilities of asim . . . More power?

by Godofredo U. Stuart Jr.                                                                                                           October  2012
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