Philippines geckos: A barber’s tale

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/7 June) – Philippine gecko: Aphrodisiacs anyone?

You know that it is catching fire when barbers start buzzing about it.

In the Philippines, it is called kuwentong barbero – barbers’ talk.

So when the craze refuses to die down, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) finally decided to clamp it down and go hard against alleged buyers of the endemic Philippine tropical gecko, more popularly known as the enigmatic tuko.

It is unclear where and when the rush to pry into the dark corners and crevices of one’s home in search for the elusive tuko started but rumors and tales of buyers showing thick wads of peso bills to anyone who could bring in a gecko have taken the neighborhood and workplaces by storm.

If one is to be believed, a 400-gram tuko could fetch as much as P300,000 (US$ 7,000) in the “black market.” That is, if you could find one and if you are lucky enough to meet the buyer face to face because, frankly, a 350-gram Philippine gecko is as rare as the second coming of Haley’s Comet in one’s lifetime.

The Philippine geckos are endemic specie belonging to the lizard family. They used to abound in the once lush forests but have since significantly dwindled down in numbers as the lust for lumber and precious lands took its toll on the habitat of these weird and eerie sounding geckos.

Some survivors from the wild have found shelter in some Filipino households who tolerate them, albeit with goose bumps every time they make their occasional calls.

While it is not endangered, the Philippine gecko nevertheless is categorized as exotic wildlife and its trade is strictly prohibited.

The average weight of a fully grown gecko adult is about 350 grams So, immediately, you should become suspicious when a buyer says he is willing to part as much as half a million pesos (US$12,000) for one more than 400 grams.

Buyers of Philippine geckos are reportedly Chinese and Koreans who are after medicinal value of geckos. Geckos, especially their gall bladder, are believed to cure a host of illness, including HIV-AIDS. Some swear geckos are a boon to one’s libido.

But one blogger says why go for geckos when roses and chocolates are as aphrodisiacs as they come and these time-tested presents do not exactly make you a thousand pesos poorer.

Whatever their purpose for buying geckos for atrocious dollars, the craze makes no real sense. If at all, this is one of those ruses that nobody knows where they originated from. For the gullible, however, caveat emptor! And wish for all the luck in the world so that you may find that elusive 400-grammer of a gecko. But be sure NBI operatives and agents are not snooping around.

Meanwhile, enjoy your haircut while being amused by this barber talk. (Edwin Espejo / MindaNews contributor)