In what might be the oddest article you read today, Ryan Jacobs at The Atlantic makes a compelling case that the practice of penis augmentation by Filipino sailors is part of the culture that keeps them the dominant group in the competitive shipping industry.
Many Filipino sailors make small incisions in their penises and slide tiny plastic or stone balls — the size of M&M’s — underneath the skin in order to enhance sexual pleasure for prostitutes and other women they encounter in port cities, especially in Rio de Janeiro. “This ‘secret weapon of the Filipinos,’ as a second mate phrased it, has therefore obviously something to do,” Lamvik wrote in his thesis, “‘with the fact that ‘the Filipinos are so small, and the Brazilian women are so big’ as another second mate put it.”
According to University of California, Santa Cruz labor sociologist Steve McKay, who traveled extensively on container ships with Filipino crews in 2005 for his research on the masculine identity in the shipping market, raw materials for the bolitas can range from tiles to plastic chopsticks or toothbrushes. A designated crew member boils them in hot water to sterilize them, and then performs the procedure. There are also different preferred locations for insertion. Some have one on top or bottom, and others have both. One shipmate told McKay that others have four, one on top and bottom and on both sides, “like the sign of the cross.” Another said: “I have a friend at home, you know what his nickname is?” McKay recalled. “Seven.”