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You Can’t Stop Dr. Rica Cruz From Talking About Sex

She is the only Filipino with a certification from the College of Sexologists.
dr. rica cruz unprude
PHOTO: Instagram/_ricacruz
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Dr. Rica Cruz is a lot of things but one thing she’s not and never will be is a prude. Not when she was a teenager, not when she entered her first relationship, and certainly not when she became a mother. You see, Cruz has always been interested in sex, so much so that she pursued it as a career.

Where a prude is a person who is easily shocked by matters relating to sex, Cruz is the total opposite: she is the first and only Filipino with a certification from the College of Sexologists. Yes, the lady is a licensed sex and relationships therapist.

You’d think someone like her would have the perfect marriage, but she once had marital issues with her first husband—issues that even pushed him to the point of refusing to have sex with her. 

“I’m a person who loves sex. Like, I really love sex. At that time, sex was being taken away from me,” Dr. Cruz told SPOT.ph. She was then taking her Master’s in Counseling Psychology, and her issues in bed led her to focus on the research question: How important is sex in a relationship and how much sex should couples have to be happy? Up until today, she would tell you she doesn’t have a definite answer—it depends, she says—but she has seemingly gotten answers for everything else in her life through that thesis.

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A bad start with sex

Her relationship with sex started long before she even met her first husband.

Growing up, Cruz had a terrible introduction to sex. She was sexually abused when she was five years old. Adding religion into the mix was another layer to unravel. Cruz is religious, having grown up with a father who was the president of the pastoral council. She even used to be a lector at church.

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Her sexual debut came at 13 with a boyfriend two years her senior—and it wasn’t a good experience, either. Eventually, her parents found out that she was cutting classes to meet with her boyfriend in secret to do god-knows-what. You’ve seen this play out in coming-of-age movies before: girl is misunderstood, girl gets grounded, girl runs away, girls gets picked up by the cops at her boyfriend’s home. It certainly didn’t help that her father was the president of the pastoral council.

So she started taking sex into her own hands (read: masturbation).

A few years, some solo love, and a string of boyfriends later (she shares how one gave her an infection from break-up sex in Sunken Garden that led to genital surgery at 18), she turned into the unofficial the sexpert among her peers. In school, she often wrote about it for her class requirements. Finding out that sex can be pleasurable was just the beginning for Cruz.

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“It’s in my blood,” Dr. Cruz said. “I am drawn to sex because of all the experiences that I’ve had with it since I was younger. In the process of trying to understand it, it brought me to doing sex therapy work.”

What's in a sex therapy session?

The Philippines has a long way to go when it comes to the sensitive subject of sex. How then does a sex therapist tackle sexual matters in public when all everyone wants to do is keep it private?

For Dr. Cruz, it’s to keep talking about it in the right way. Again and again and again until it becomes normal everyday conversation.

“With our culture, when you say sex, they think about the behavior. They think about the penis in the vagina, the penis in the anus, the penis in some hole. That’s not what sex is,” Dr. Cruz said. Instead, “sex is how you relate to yourself and to others.”

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At the risk of oversimplification, she explained that sex is much more about how we feel about ourselves and how we connect with other people than it is about a set of physical behaviors. This perspective emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, emotional intimacy, and communication in framing sexual experiences. It goes back to her original research question that started it all: “I want to do this because I want to help myself. Now, she has the capacity to help others through her therapy services.

Her sessions are a lot like what we know about regular therapy, except it focuses on “sexual beliefs, your relationship dynamics, different kinds of interventions depending on the issue, depending on the people, what would work for them.” She limits her clients to 10 to 20 a week. Cruz might have gotten her PhD in the U.S., but her teachings are profoundly influenced by her upbringing in the Philippines. She walks the talk, so to speak.

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Dr. Cruz confesses her professional services can be costly, which was why she brought her expertise to any platform that will have her—shows, podcasts, social media programs, and most recently, a sexual wellness app that she created from scratch called Unprude. She’ll take whatever platform she can get her hands on if it means one more person can be exposed to sex education.

Recently, her television show “Private Convos with Doc Rica” was suspended by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) for having “discussions on sexual experiences and fantasies, including the use of inappropriate language.” The language in question? “Self-masturbation, anal sex, and oral sex.

Too much sex?

Sex was something that her firstborn daughter, Caia, understood at the age of four.

Dr. Cruz's approach to sex positivity extends beyond her professional endeavors to her personal life, where she fosters open conversations about sex with her children. By nine, Caia knew how to put a condom on; by twelve, she shares an advice column with her mom on Smart Parenting teaching parents about sex from the unique perspective of a tween. Dr. Cruz is now in the process of figuring out how to relay the same message to her second daughter who is on the spectrum.

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One common misconception about her career is that she’s encouraging people to have more sex. It’s the same fear behind MTRCB’s decision to suspend Private Convos with Doc Rica. Is there such a thing as too much sex positivity?  

“When you talk about sex, it should come from a place of love, care, and respect. It’s important to respect the values of the people you’re talking to. You have to understand where the other person is coming from. What are their values?” Dr. Cruz says. “That’s what Unprude is all about, being comfortable who you are as a sexual person and respecting others as who they are as a sexual person.”

She says MTFCB’s suspension order was not much of a hindrance to her advocacy.

“It’s sad, but for me, I’ll continue whatever it is I’m doing. That’s just one platform,” Dr. Cruz tells us.

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* This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors.

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