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Rachel Tabilin, Student Stories

A Social Science Experiment (or “The Day I Bought A Pack of Condoms”)

Rachel Tabilin

This story goes way back when I was in my sophomore year in college. And it goes like this:

For our homework in Social Science 3, my classmates and I were tasked to buy a condom. When I told my roommate about it, her immediate reaction was, “Talaga?” I answered her, “Oo, nahihiya nga ako eh.” Then she said, “Ay, oo, babae ka pa naman.” I did not know what she meant by that. I just nodded. Admittedly, I felt a bit embarrassed to buy that mahiwagang condom because I was worried about what people might think about me. I also felt disturbed by the idea. Not that I view sex as a negative act, but other (hypocritical) people do so and they might have negative perceptions about me too. I tried not to think about it that much so I could go on buying “it”.

But all I could think of was that moment when I would pay for the condom and the person at the cashier would not look at me and pretend I wasn’t there. Of course, the other customers in the store would lay strange looks at me and I would shrink of shame. They would wait until I got out so they could make all sorts of rumors about me, like it’s a big deal.

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I asked my friend to accompany me to Philcoa to buy “you know what” simply because I was afraid to do it on my own. And I was surprised that she said yes and that she was just cool about it. We first went to a drugstore and searched for the rack of condoms there. When we found it, my friend asked, “Girl, anong flavor gusto mo? Pili ka na.” I wasn’t able to answer her for I noticed that a guy was listening. My friend was shocked about what she had just said- I could tell from her suddenly wide eyes. We felt discomfited by the guy who glared at us so we bought nothing and left the store.

We went to a convenient store next. Again, I looked for the rack of condoms and my friend looked for something to eat. She had not had lunch yet. When I grabbed a pack of condoms and was about to pay for it, I looked for my friend. She was looking over the rack of beverages which was a few feet from where I was. Then I asked her in quite a loud voice, “Girl, ikaw? Bibili ka ba?” But she did not answer me. I wondered why. There was a moment of silence and I saw the girl at the counter glaring at us. Then I realized I was holding the pack of condoms and my friend probably thought I was asking her if she was going to buy a pack too. Maybe that was also what the counter girl thought. So I added, “I meant ng food…” What a fiasco!

As I expected, the counter girl avoided making eye contact with me throughout the transaction. Parang siya pa ‘yung nahihiya para sa’kin. I stared at her and thought of what she was thinking about me or about what I’m going to do with the condoms I just purchased. Trying to be polite, I thanked her when she handed me the pack and my change. She just raised her eyebrow without looking at me. My friend and I went out laughing because we both felt silly of what we had unexpectedly said. It all sounded so wrong.

In the end, I realized it was not that difficult to buy a condom or any other contraceptive. It just becomes so because of the awkwardness we feel which is caused by the negative understanding people associate with condom usage or sexual intercourse or other sexual behaviors for that matter. I began to feel sorry for couples who wanted to practice safe sex but just couldn’t do so for they are hindered by the mere act of buying a condom which, I think, is very ironic. In effect, condoms become ineffectual as society still refuses to be open-minded… about a lot of things.


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The official newsletter of the UP Asian Institute of Tourism.


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