‘Now Open,’ a new sex-positive community launches as an alternative source for sex education in PH

Although it’s been five years since the Reproductive Health Law was in enacted, sex education in the Philippines is still at its best, ineffective, and at its worst, non-existent.

And this is precisely why two Filipino women thought it best to create an alternative source of sex education for Filipino millennials.

Now Open is a sex-positive community that launched last week which seeks to change the way sex is discussed in the Philippines. Founded by Scout Magazine columnist Trisha O’Bannon and student Cai Antonio, it aims to “provide alternative sex education with the goal of eradicating sex negativity.”

Trisha O’Bannon and Cai Antonio. Photo courtesy of Now Open.

When sex is discussed in Philippine classrooms, it is, more often than not, only referred to in a scientific sense. You know, the typical straight-out-of-a-textbook context of a man’s sperm fertilizing the woman’s egg.

“I have noticed how underlying Filipino sex education was the notion that sex was something to be avoided; that pleasure was not an integral facet of sex, and that sex was this taboo topic that was meant to be kept in the dark,” Antonio told Coconuts Manila in a Facebook message.

O’Bannon added: “It’s extremely common to have gotten no sex education at all.”

Now Open steers away from this by becoming an avenue for an effective discussion on sex and all its aspects.

They’ll do this through events like hands-on workshops about sexuality and gender, spotlight sessions with noteworthy individuals who will share their experiences, and casual communes that will bring like-minded people together to share their beliefs and values.

Now Open will also be available to answers their followers’ burning questions through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

“The internet has been amazing at starting important conversations, but we know that on-the-ground and face-to-face discussions can make a greater impact,” O’Bannon said.

She said that ultimately, they have two main goals: education and community.

“With our education arm, we want to be a practical resource for Filipinos to learn about their bodies and about sex,” O’Bannon said. “Our community-building projects are here to help create a safe space where people feel free to reach out, ask questions, share stories, and empower each other.”

For them, one of the most important things the Filipino public needs to be educated on is the risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI).

In August last year, the United Nations said that the Philippines had the highest HIV infection growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region in the past six years, with a 140 percent increase in new infections.

“The thing is, we are never going to be entirely safe from these dangers,” Antonio admitted. And only by learning and navigating through these risks will one be able to truly enjoy sex safely, she said.

At the same time, O’Bannon and Antonio said that they don’t want to place a stigma on those with STIs because it could happen to anyone.

“We believe that sex positivity means that these people will get the resources they need to seek treatment and continue enjoying healthy, safe sex,” O’Bannon shared.

Now Open has yet to release dates for its upcoming events but based on a tweet posted today, it looks like those interested in joining the community can look forward to something this coming Saturday, June 16.


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