MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of boys in a Philippine city turned out Saturday for a daylong "circumcision party" to provide a safe, free procedure for a rite of passage that most local males undergo as preteens.
Some boys cried in their mothers' arms while others bit their shirts to stifle sobs as doctors carried out the surgery on dozens of makeshift operating tables inside a sports stadium in Marikina city east of Manila. Outside, other boys lined up to await their turn.
"I'm a big boy now," one boy who had just finished the surgery bragged.
Officials said the event — touted in a press statement as a "circumcision party" — aims to promote safe circumcision and to offer to poor residents free surgery that would otherwise cost at least $40 in private hospitals.
As of mid-afternoon, nearly 1,500 boys aged 9 years and up had been circumcised while many were still waiting in line, city health officer Dr. Alberto Herrera said.
In the Philippines, preadolescent and adolescent boys traditionally are circumcised during summer school break from March to May. In rural areas, the surgery is sometimes performed by non-doctors using crude methods.
The city also hopes to establish a world record for the number of people attending a mass circumcision.
"We applied for the Guinness Book of World Records and we are recording everything so we can send all the data to them and hopefully it will be recognized," Vice Mayor Jose Fabian Cadiz said.
Marikina, the country's shoemaking capital, was recognized by Guinness in 2002 for creating what was then the world's biggest pair of shoes.