Of summer and nudity

by Evans Yonson

(Warning: Some photographs maybe offensive to some of the readers. If you’re aroused by these photos then you’re offending yourselves.)

Barcelona – Summer is really here. To say the least, it’s really hot. The highest temp lately is 41 degrees. Even if you’re only sitting down and reading, you need not exert so much effort because sweat just comes out of your pores naturally. At night, I sleep naked and good thing, mosquitoes are not much too keen for Filipino blood. Talk about discrimination. Mosquitoes or no insects, summer has arrived indeed.

When I arrived in Spain in 2004, I was surprised to see couple kissing in public places. From my Filipino background, public display of affection is such a taboo that any two persons doing it are considered tasteless and uneducated. I have grown to simply ignore people caressing and romancing each other anywhere I maybe in Madrid. When I moved to Barcelona in 2006, the beach was another thing. I transferred in that summer so Barceloneta (the beach part) became a favorite place to visit anytime of day. This was my first ever exposure to broad daylight half- and full-naked men and women in the beach. In full glory.

Naked? Nudity? Does it really matter in this day and age?

Over the weekend, I went to two famous towns of the Catalunya shores -Sitges and Cadaques. Sitges is about an hour train ride away. It is the gayest beach along the Spanish Riviera. It is not surprising to see people along the beach naked. Men and women of all ages, of different shapes and sizes, of different colors, they all come here to get their share of the summer sun. The sight of nude men leaves nothing to the imagination. The thinking part of the experience is already there so no more reason to get excited about. You will soon realize that we are after all the same.

"Gravity seems to be pulling everything down, Gran!" Sitges, August 2010.

It is a common sight to see males sit side-by-side in the beaches of Catalunya.

Cadaques in the Costa Brava area is two hours away from Barcelona. We had to pass through a 3-kilometer zigzag highway. It maybe a long road but the beach is a sight to behold upon arrival. Salvador Dali frequents this town to paint and get inspiration for his artworks. I have been told that Cadaques’ major industry is tourism nowadays. But back in the days of Picasso and Dali, fishing was the major source of income of this quaint little town of north-eastern Spain. Nobody predicted that this town will grow big in terms of tourism. The streets are so narrow that everything is a one-way street.

Naked bodies are a common sight. Cadaques, August 2010.

I tried so hard to understand where nudity is coming from. I walked around Cadaques trying to find the answer to that insatiable question why people are so comfortable with showing their flesh in public. I realized that it is a concept that these people (the Europeans) have been taught since childhood. There is nothing wrong with their bodies. To show it is but natural. The greatest masters of art have shown their appreciation of the human body. David by Michaelangelo. The Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci. La Fornarina by Raphael. The Venus de Milo. And so on. Much more to express what they feel inside is better appreciated when said and done. If they feel like disrobing because it’s hot, then they will. If they feel like kissing then they will, wherever they may be at that moment.

Boys and girls walk around half naked in the streets of Cadaques with their parents half naked too. Summer 2010.

When I went to Cagayan de Oro last year, I bought bikinis for all female members of my family -my sister, my sisters-in-law, and my nieces. Everyone was so surprised and probably dismayed that I brought them bikinis when they are not used to showing their flesh in public. The skimpiest they could ever wear is a sleeveless shirt and a pair of short pants.

The people that I’ve met and known here are not like the streets of Cadaques. They are more open and don’t have any qualms of disrobing in public. But from where I come from, openness is totally a different concept. We might be the narrow streets that people from other countries see us but we are on a two-way street. In the end, I would still say to myself that nudity matters where it matters. And the way we see and understand things in our midst are products of our own culture. It is totally indifferent if we try and say that these people (the Europeans) are all perverts in their own ways. Because they are not. They are simply expressing their feelings. Just like the vuvuzelas of South Africa, the sight of flesh is all part of the local color in Europe. In the same manner that Filipinos still wear pants and shirts when they go to the beach.