Love Life Lust
LODESTAR - Danton Remoto (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2015 - 10:00am

That is the title of Dr. Margie Holmes’ ground-breaking book first published 25 years ago. Subtitled “Straight Answers to Provocative Questions,” this book published by Anvil was a lightning rod for controversy. Its author was a clinical psychologist who studied at the University of the Philippines, University of Hawaii, and Ateneo de Manila University – and used her training to answer questions on sex and sexuality with wit, humor and doses of research.

Listen to Dr. Holmes: “The first edition of LLL surprised many. Most were enthusiastic but in several quarters, a few received LLL with something approaching horror. It was denounced by priests and pundits as a threat to decency and morality. I was threatened with court cases, accused of being a nymphomaniac, and of being a mere psychologist masquerading as a real doctor, and of being a bad influence for the youth by the then chairman of the Board of Censors. A parish priest wrote National Bookstore asking them to stop selling LLL, but happily Nanay Coring didn’t listen.”

But the hypocrites turned out to be wrong – as they always are. Life Love Lust has sold 50,000 copies and counting and has helped spark a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender movement with the help of two other Holmes’ books: A Different Love and Naiibang Pag-ibig. Moreover, it has brought the discussion of sex and sexuality from the musty confessional room of sin and shame to the open garden of ideas, suffused with air and sunlight.

Myrza Sison, founding director and editorial director of Cosmopolitan Magazine Philippines, recalled: “When we launched Cosmopolitan Magazine in the Philippines in 1997, to inspire and encourage every young Filipina to be a Fun, Fearless Female by being the best she could be in every aspect of her life, we found a formidable, like-minded ally in Dr. Margie Holmes. She helped readers develop and celebrate not just a healthy sexuality but also a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence. In her ‘Life Love Lust’ Q & A column in Cosmo which ran from 1998 to 2005, Dr. Holmes dished out sharp, no-nonsense advice for Cosmo readers ‘ most burning dilemmas (from virginity, orgasms, and contraception to infidelity  and depression), always with her trademark charm, wit and humor. At a time when discussing sex openly was still pretty much taboo and conformity to societal mores rather than individualism was the norm, Dr. Holmes shed comforting light and helped empower a whole generation of Filipinas to actively take charge of their lives and destiny.”

The best of the vintage lot (or loot, as it were) are in this 25th-anniversary edition, plus a chapter on “Life Love Lust in the 21st Century,” new words and scientific research updates, and a funny glossary. Jaf Baer, Dr. Holmes’ partner, also gives barbed and veddy British answers to some of the questions with such dry wit that you could bottle it up and serve it in the next drinking session in town.

To a father complaining about the dark moods of his teenaged son, Dr. Holmes explains neuroscience (“the scientific study of the nervous system, including the brain”) and distills everything into these lines every parent must learn by heart: “[Parents must] remind themselves constantly that the way their teenaged children behave is not to be taken personally.” To Eric who has premature ejaculation and then complains of his non-responsive wife, Dr. Holmes delivers the scientific goods and then the quotation: “There are no frigid women, only clumsy men.”

To JP who asked, how often should one have sex in a week? Dr. Holmes said, “I wish there were a definite answer I could share with people anxious about their sex lives, but no such formula exists. Lucky is the person who, when asked how often she makes love, has the presence of mind to answer, ‘Enough to make me happy,’ and has the good fortune to really mean it.”  

In the chapter on female sexual concerns, PP asked: “Doctor Holmes, I know pleasuring oneself through clitoral stimulation is masturbation, whether you get an orgasm or not. But if I get an orgasm through pure fantasy without touching any part of my body, does it still constitute masturbation?”

Deftly, Dr. Holmes outlines what the Catholic dogma and what science say, and tells PP to go to a spiritual adviser if she thinks it will help her as well. Like a good counsellor, she gives options, and ends with a quote from the psychiatrist Tom Szaz who once said: “When you talk to God, that is prayer. When God talks to you, that is schizophrenia.”

To a senior citizen who describes his aging wife as “dry as a desert,” Dr. Holmes gives the latest research, but also subtly asks questions why he is treating her like an old machine that should already be junked.

The male sexual concerns include self-abuse in movie houses, to which Dr. Holmes blitzed in: “Masturbating in movie houses is similar to picking one’s nose in public: While most people may do it in private, why do it where others can see us?”

Another question asked is the one beloved of Catholic boys: Is masturbation healthy for me? Quick as lightning, Dr. Holmes volts in: “Masturbation causes neither sterility nor infertility. It does not cause you or your future children mental illness. Believe me, if it did, all of us would be drooling hebephrenics or immobile catatonics. It does not even cause hairy hands, tics, or stutters.”

All told, Dr. Holmes is right on and right here: The doctor separating superstition from science, the writer whose words sparkle like champagne, the Agony Aunt making our lives more bearable. Truly, her books have helped make our Gross National Happiness rise a hundred-fold. Life Love Lust is a book that you should read.

Please listen also to “Remoto Control” aired every Monday and Thursday at Radyo 5, 92.3 FM, from 7-9 p.m. with live telecast on Aksyon TV. “Remoto Control” also goes on air every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9-11 p.m. at Radyo 5. Comments are welcome at  


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