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Bishops and the joys of sex

One of the things that most annoyed me when bishops and priests spoke out on reproductive matters was their seemingly casual dismissal of the joys and challenges of married life.

Advocating natural family planning, which entails periodic abstinence if the couple wished to avoid an unwanted or mistimed pregnancy, these men of the cloth would speak as if it were so easy to turn passion and arousal off and on at one’s will. As one priest memorably put it, it was no more challenging than avoiding friends and relatives when one has a cold.

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Apparently, they were not acquainted with—or were pretending not to be acquainted with—physical, emotional and indeed spiritual intimacy and the need to find expression for this in sex and pleasure.

Now, the world’s bishops know better, at least if they were listening closely to a married couple invited to speak before the gathering of prelates. Ron and Mavis Pirola, a Catholic couple with four children from Sydney, Australia, spoke before the world’s bishops extolling the gift of romance and intimacy as “outward expressions of our longing to be intimate with each other.”

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Marriage, the couple said, is a “sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse.”

My goodness! And here I was thinking that the words “sexual intercourse” would never be uttered in the Vatican—except perhaps when it was being condemned.

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FOR the longest time, this was my biggest beef against the Catholic Church: that its officials and so-called moral leaders were too quick to condemn the real-life needs of the majority of their believers—married men and women coping with the everyday demands of living together and raising a family, as well as singles coping with the temptations of the flesh and the call of the heart.

Now they’ve heard from a Catholic couple addressing the extraordinary meeting of bishops from around the world trying to come to a deeper understanding of marriage and the family. That the “understanding” is to be made by celibate men who do not know the intimate facts of married life is an irony that I’m sure is not lost on the bishops gathered at the Synod.

Will the Church open the doors to shed light and air on such contentious issues as “marriage, divorce, homosexuality, and, yes, sex”? That is my hope, and we have about a year to wait until Pope Francis issues a document arising from this meeting. But that views on the “gift” of sexuality and sexual enjoyment were aired at all at a meeting of bishops is, for me, for now, enough of a breakthrough. I hope, at least, that we have heard the last of the sneering tone adopted by many prelates when talking about sex and sexuality.

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FOREIGNERS are scouting for residential properties in these parts, says JJ Jugo, group head of Ayala Land Premier, and in fact about 10 percent of buyers of the upscale units come from abroad.

The reason? “They find that our luxury products here are very affordable,” says Jugo, and many are buying condominium units as a form of investment.

But the rest of the market, says Jugo, is composed of locals, who range in age from corporate types in their late 30s to retirees seeking to “downsize” not just their living quarters but also their lifestyle.

Apparently, this limited market is steadily growing, which is why Ayala Land Premier is investing in new projects as a response to expanding demand and shifting tastes.

Case in point, East Gallery Place in High Street South, at one end of what the developers call Bonifacio Global City’s “cultural district,” although it still isn’t clear to me what makes this district any more “cultural” than other locales in BGC. (Does the Mind Museum suffice?)

Units will be ready for turnover to buyers by 2019, and they offer potential residents choices for their particular needs, preferences, and evolving lifestyles.

A feature of the recent launch of East Gallery Place was a demonstration of three approaches to the use of “flex” units, which come bare of walls and with only the basic structures in place, with residents free to transform their spaces into a studio cum workplace, or even two- or three-bedroom homes.

For the demonstration, Ayala Land Premier asked three creative individuals to show how they would use a flex unit. Former model and professional photographer JoAnn Bitagcol opted for a larger living room to display her art works; jewelry designer Joyce Makitalo chose to carve out a workspace beside her bedroom and transformed the living room into a display gallery; chef Gino Gonzales, who is married with a young daughter, carved out two bedrooms for his family while transforming the dining area and living area into showcases for his culinary art.

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THE “flex” units are among the 407 units available at the 50-story East Gallery Place, which will be anchored by a retail space on the ground floor.

Four four-bedroom units, known as the Villas, provide premium living space with a pool, deck and lanai as well as a two-level living area. While the Skysuites, so-called because they’re located in the upper floors, provide larger (200 square meters) living spaces. The equivalent of the penthouse residences are known as “Skyrise” units accessible from both the North and South wings of the building. “Skycove Aqua,” which evokes a beach cove, soars over the metropolis with its own private plunge pool and huge balcony spaces.

Indeed, the condominium lifestyle is proving more and more attractive to local urbanites, whether one chooses the more accessible Ayala developments like Avida or the premium offerings of Ayala Land Premier. For people looking to downsize their lives, a condominium seems to figure in their future.

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TAGS: Avida, bishops, Catholic Church, Condo Living, Marriage, Married Life, Mavis Pirola, Philippine Catholic, Ron Pirola, sex, Sexual Intercourse, sexuality
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