A Filipino myth about the origin of homosexuality, as told by Dr. Damiana Eugenio
The issue about the origin and nature of homosexuality has been the subject of a never-ending debate and tons of academic research for many years now, with no end in sight. On one hand are those who say that it is genetic (or, as Lady Gaga put it, “born THAT way”), and on the other are those who claim that homosexuality is just a choice one person makes.
While going over Philippine literary icon Damiana Eugenio’s Philippine Folk Literature: The Myths (published in 1993, it is part of a seven-volume series containing Filipino legends, riddles, epics, folktales, legends, myths, riddles, and proverbs) for my Environment History early this month, I stumbled upon what is described as a Filipino myth about the origin of homosexuality. Here it is, as written in Dr. Eugenio’s book:
There was a time when there were no homosexuals in the world. One day, Christ and St. Peter were travelling from town to town teaching the people. The sun being very hot, they stayed in a cottage to take a nap. They were roused by the noise made by the people in the next house. Peter went to ask the neighbors not to make so much noise for they wanted to rest. Jesus and Peter then resumed their siesta.
After a few minutes they were again disturbed by the shouts of the neighbors. Peter once more went to the place of carousal, drew his sword and cut the heads of all the people he found. He then sheathed his sword and went back to the Master saying nothing about his deed. But everything was known to Jesus, who said: “Peter, creature of your impulses, what crime have you committed? When shall you fully learn to follow my precepts and example? Go, place the heads on the bodies again.” Peter, without a word, obeyed and hurriedly did what he had been told. In his haste, he stuck some female heads to male bodies and male heads to female bodies. This mistake of St. Peter explains the existence of homosexuals.
Unlike other myths included in her book, Dr. Eugenio did not mention in which region of the Philippines this story came from. Despite that, we can make some inferences. First, this is unlikely to be an original Filipino tale, based on the use of the Lord and St. Peter as characters. The thing is, homosexuals must have been around as early as then. Second, it seems that the notion of “babae sa katawan ng lalake” (literally, a woman in a man’s body) came from here.
Third, the story reinforces the belief that homosexuality is unnatural. This story is actually funny. Imagine a saint beheading a bunch of people just because they are disturbing his sleep? And God didn’t really punish him for that crazy act!
Eugenio, Damiana. Philippine Folk Literature: The Myths. UP Press. Diliman, Quezon City. 1993. Pp.313-314
Juliana dela Cruz, “Folktales.” Fansler Manuscript Collection. P. 45 (Dr. Eugenio cites this as her source for this story)