BrainTeaser | Sherma E Benosa

Life is a puzzle; we are the clues, and God is the answer.

Sick and Twisted: A Reaction to the Canister Scandal


There’s something that’s gravely ailing the world today. And it’s not global warming. It’s our hearts turning cold and unfeeling.



The culprits probably thought it was a good joke, so they took video footage of it and uploaded it in the internet. After all, it’s not often that one would “be lucky” enough to witness an operation to get a perfume canister out of a poor fellow’s anus. But right now, I can hear the “lucky” fellows’ jeers turned into sobs, and see their jeering faces ‘sorrily’ contorted as they scamper away for cover.


I am talking about the scandal at a Visayan hospital where a team of doctors and nurses and (a) nursing student(s) took photo and video footages of an operation done on a male patient who had a perfume canister stuck on his anus during a sexual act. The video footage was then said to be uploaded in youtube for all the world to see (the video has since been removed from the file sharing site after the scandal broke out). But according to bloggers who have seen the video and to some news report, the video showed several people in the operating room jeering as the perfume canister was being removed, making disrespectful comments, calling the canister “baby,” and spraying perfume after the canister was removed. All these while the patient was lying helpless and unconscious.


Before this offensive event, I was of the opinion that there are two kinds of fun: clean and dirty. But apparently I’m wrong. There’s a third one: sick.


I think it’s sick that some people could get a kick from other people’s grave embarrassment. I think it’s sick that some people could actually laugh at other people’s pain. I think it’s sick that the people we turn to for help would extend their right hand to assist us, only to stab us with their left. I think it’s sick that professionals would act in an unprofessional way in times of crisis. I think it’s sick that we would choose to add insult to the injury when we could opt to ease the pain. Ah, yes, the world we live in can sometimes be so sick. (Or shall I say, we can sometimes be so sick.)



Condemn him not


It’s true, it’s unhealthy to use sex toys during sexual intercourse; but if others decide to use them, to engage in different kind of sex, who are we to condemn them? It is their business as it is their lives. It is not for us to judge them. But reading some blog posts, I realized that some folks put the blame on the poor victim, their reasoning being, “things would not have happened if he did not engage in “abnormal” sexual behavior, if he weren’t gay.


That got me a little lost, because the issue, in my humble opinion, is not the victim’s sexual preference, nor is it his sexual behavior. The issue is that the medical professionals involved violated his rights as a patient, as a person.


He went to the doctors to seek help, but what did he get? Sure, the doctors relieved him of the proof of his physical ‘rape,’ but they raped his soul in return, inflicting upon him a kind of pain that no medicine could relieve nor cure; no expert could surgically remove.


And then, as he prepares to seek justice, someone from the Catholic Church comes forward to condemn him. That, I think, is hypocricy to the highest level. The last thing the victim needs and deserves is for us to be moralistic about it, to play self-righteous and pass judgment upon him. His rights, his person had been gravely violated, and the least thing we can do is to help him stand as he struggles to carry the cross that was suddenly put on his shoulders, and not to whip his back as the Judeans would.



Going back to the basics


I will no longer talk about malpractice, about how legally liable the people involved in the scandal are. News reports and many blog posts about the issue have tackled them. I’d rather focus on the basics of human relationships.


The culprits did not just break the code of their professions’ ethics; they broke the very basic code of social ethics: RESPECT. One need not have a medical degree to know if what he or she is about to do is right or wrong. I do not see any excuse why the people involved in the scandal could not have realized that jeering at their patient and taking footages of the operation and then uploading them in the internet was a grave violation. All they needed to have done was put themselves in the patient’s shoe and they would have known what was proper and what was not.


As a proverb, the commandment, “Do not do unto others what you do not want others do unto you” is now trite. And as a code of conduct, it is very basic. But somehow, it is sorely ‘underpracticed.’ To think that practicing it could reduce a lot of wrongs. Ah, humans…





It would be a long, unpaved road, I know. But I guess the only way the victim would heal is by getting the justice that he deserves. I think he must walk the long and hard road to justice, not just to right what is wrong, but also to set example to other offenders and victims.


I would not be sorry to see the licenses of those involved in the scandal revoked, for though it’s true that we have a dearth of healthcare professionals in the country, we are not so desperate so as to allow these vacancies be filled by abusive folks who might just put our medical system in (more) jeopardy.


Because if justice in this case is not achieved, it will surely hurt our bid for a slice in the medical tourism, for we will not just become known as the country where horrible things such as this could happen, but a country that tolerated such things. God forbid! 



Some relevant thoughts


As an ex-medical journalist, I’ve written and read a lot of medical articles, a good number of them dealt with male sexual dysfunction.


According to the literature I’ve read, and to some of the doctors I’ve interviewed, many forms of sexual dysfunction can be treated and managed if only the sufferers would seek treatment. But very few men would actually dare talk to their doctors about their problems. It is hypothesized that it may be a natural tendency for the male to never admit to his sexual incapacities because his sexuality is him, to admit sexual problem is to admit to the world that he is less of a person.


In a way, that hypothesis might be right. But I think that there is also another thing that keeps the male population from talking to their doctors about their sexual problems: the fear, rightly or wrongly, that their doctor might jeer at them at their back. I think — or shall I say, I used to think — that that is very remote, given that doctors have heard a lot of stories about this problem, as sexual dysfunction is becoming very common, especially among the elderly.


But now I am thinking that maybe it’s not so remote after all.



//Sherma E. Benosa

27 April 2008; 10:50pm



6 comments on “Sick and Twisted: A Reaction to the Canister Scandal

  1. sarah flanigan
    April 27, 2008

    hi sherma,
    i agree with you – the hospital staff violated that patient’s rights and should never have videotaped the situation. Much less post it on YouTube. though you have to wonder, why there would be an audience for such a thing. to me, that is more troubling.

  2. brainteaser
    April 28, 2008

    Hi Sarah! I’m glad to see you back!

    You know what, I had not thought of the point you raised! Hmmm… Good one.

    Now, I’m wondering about their reaction when they saw the video.

    Did they laugh, too? Did they also ridicule the patient?

    Or were they outraged?

    Judging from the blogposts, it seems there are mix reactions. There are a lot who condemned the medical staff, but there are those who thought the video was funny, and that it’s all the patient’s fault.


  3. Salve
    April 29, 2008

    girl, may naglabas lang kasi ng video kaya lumaki yung issue. feeling ko naman, sila-sila na mga nandun lang talaga ang nakakaalam ng “joke” na yun. yeah, it was a sick joke, but hey, pinoy ka sila eh. you know that even in the worst of situations, makakahanap at makakahanap tayo ng joke or nakakatawa dun. i give this case a rest. masyado na syang na-promote. 😀

  4. miguel
    April 29, 2008

    “…those who hath no sin cast the first stone…”

  5. brainteaser
    May 23, 2008

    HI SALVE. 🙂 If they contained it among themselves, siguro hindi pa masyadong malala yung isyu. But they didn’t. They made it known by the whole world. It’s a “joke” that got out of hand. It was a sick joke to begin with, yet, instead of keeping it among themselves, they weren’t content. Maybe they thought it was so funny that the whole world had to know. I’m trying to put myself on the victim’s shoe, and it badly hurts, girl. I would not want that to happen to me. 🙂

  6. brainteaser
    May 23, 2008

    HI MIGUEL! Thanks for coming over. How are you?

    Ah, that’s a great line for self-check. You know, I thought of that when I wrote my piece. I wanted to incorporate that scripture for those who had come out and condemned the guy for his uhm… different sexual behavior. But then, I also thought that by pointing out where the medical staff erred, and by condemning their behavior, I may be guilty of that as well — of casting stones.

    But then, I also think that the guy’s sexual preference/behavior is personal — something I do not have business talking about. It’s his body, and he only answers to himself and to God. Moreover, he is not stepping on someone else’s shoe. Whereas the medical staff stepped on the guy’s rights the moment they started taping his operation without the guy’s knowledge/permission. More so when they shared the video for everyone to see. I think that’s a grave violation and, anyone who wants to uphold human right, whether he may have sinned or not, has the right and the responsibility to put these guys in line.

    Well, that’s just my opinion. Feel free to contradict me. 🙂

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