Men buying flowers yesterday for Valentine's Day were given something else for the weekend in the Philippines, a staunch Roman Catholic outpost in Asia– free condoms.
The health department set up two tents and booths carrying the slogan "Are You Sexually Active" at Manila's Dangwa wholesale flower market on the day before St Valentine's.
They also handed out leaflets promoting them as safeguards against sexually transmitted diseases with the "Be Safe Always, Valentine" packs of condoms.
Some men laughed openly as they accepted the handouts from government health workers, led by the department's chief epidemiologist, Eric Tayag.
But President Gloria Arroyo's government, wary of the dominant church's opposition to birth control, promptly distanced itself from the promotion.
"Our policy on condoms is very simple: We do not give out condoms for contraception," Arroyo spokesman Ricardo Saludo said. "If they want to use it for other matters, that is none of our business."
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