Ako Ay May Titi Wants to Teach Little Boys a Crucial Lesson
Twenty years ago, a book titled Ako Ay May Titi (I Have a Penis) would have never seen the light of day. But Palanca awardee and author of the book Genaro Gojo Cruz wants to normalize conversations about genitals.
In an interview streamed by Lampara publisher Segundo Matias on August 20, Cruz explained why he came up with the title. When he was a young boy, he observed how his father, who was a jeepney driver, would use “titi” to refer to parts of the jeepney that were sticking out and needed to be taken out.
“Sabi ko, gamitin ko na ito sa tunay na konteksto ng literatura,” said Cruz. “Wala na akong pangambang gamitin itong salitang ito, pakakawalan ko na iyong salita para mawala na yung malisya kapag binigkas ng bata.”
(“I told myself I would use this in the true context of the literature. I had no apprehensions to use the word and unleash it to erase the malice every time it is used by children.”)
When Cruz finally finished his first draft, he posted it on Facebook and asked mothers to read it to their sons aged four to seven years old. He asked them to tell him how their children reacted to the story.
“Ang una daw na reaksiyon ng mga anak nila ay natawa. ‘Nanay, ang bastos-bastos naman niyan!” said the children. “Pero habang binabasa naman daw, tawa naman nang tawa. Pero sa pagtawa nila habang binabasa iyong kuwento, nawala na yung malisya ng salitang ‘titi.’”
(“The initial reaction of their children was they laughed. ‘That’s so vulgar,’ said the children. But as they read on, they kept laughing. It was a sign that the malice that came with the word ‘penis’ was gone.”)
Cruz also consulted a psychologist at the De La Salle University about his book. According to Cruz, he was advised to go ahead with his book because young boys would not be able to defend and take care of parts of their bodies if they don’t know its functions.
“Pakawalan mo na ang salitang iyan (publish that title),” said the psychologist.
Aside from teaching young boys about proper hygiene, Ako Ay May Titi also teaches them how to defend themselves against child sexual abuse.
Ako Ay May Titi was illustrated by Beth Parrocha. It was sold out on the first week of its launch. Lampara is currently working on the second printing of the book.