(WARNING: this article tackles a mature subject in graphic fashion)
These people go naked, Italian scholar Antonio Pigafetta wrote in his account of the Armada de Molucca’s stay in Zzubu or Cebu, “wearing only a piece of cloth made of palm around their shameful parts.”
“They have as many wives as they wish, but there is always a chief one,” he added.
Then he wrote about a practice that, according to historian Laurence Bergreen, both fascinated and appalled explorers from around the world: palang.
“The males, both large and small, have the head of their member pierced from one side to the other, with a pin of gold or of tin as thick as a goose feather; and at each end of this pin some have a star-shaped decoration like a button, and others, one like the head of a cart nail,” Pigafetta said.
The middle of the pin has a hole through which they urinate, he added. “The pin and the stars always remain firm, holding the member stiff.”