A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FOREIGNER You are coming from the airport by bus to a city outside of Manilla. You finally get to the bus depot, ABOUT A 20-minute taxi from the airport; you are tired and the taxi driver seeing you were “American and rich” (anything not Filipino, and from North American) just took you for an extra p500.00 Pesos driving you the longer route to the bus depot and now, you’ve got to go. I mean you really really have got to go.(to the washroom that is) You rush to where the washrooms are (they call it CR (Comfort Room) in the Philippines which is truly an irony because it is far from comfortable!!!!! The only comfort is finally being able to relieve yourself after waiting in long lines and getting past … well, I’ll tell you all about that in a minute.
So you arrive at the CR ready to drop a load, and you depending on the location, get stopped and told you to have to pay a toll. The attendant says “Bayad” and points to a sign that says pay P5.00 for entrance. Or if your really lucky you might see the signs that say umihi (pee) P5.00 tae (Poop) p10.00. I know of a place in Baguio that has this exact sign in a park washroom. No lie! (although I’ve always wondered how they would enforce this lol… let me check before you flush lol NOT! !!!!Anyhow I digress) So you look through your pockets and of course, you don’t have any pesos yet. You haven’t been able to get any money converted yet. “I need to get in … I don’t have any pera” Pera the word you learned within 5 minutes of getting off the airport property as all the beggars in Metro Manila (Like Toronto, Sao Paulo or other Mega-Cities which swallow up other cities) and beyond heard you are coming and holding out their hands and asking for money. “Pera, Pera…Pera!” they say almost in a demanding tone. “No NO, I HAVE NO MONEY!!! YOU REPEAT THIS ABOUT 10,000 times but they all seem to be deaf or stupid. Likewise, the attendant at the CR seems to have the same condition; an instant loss of hearing. You are practically holding yourself front and back as it seems like hours since you’ve been waiting to get in. You find someone that will give you p5.00 and you rush to the toilet stall. Lo and behold a lineup. You look to where the stalls are. There are or were 4 stalls. One has no toilet, one has no toilet door (although some are desperate and use it anyways, another has been clogged for the last century leaving only one stall available. You desperately are crawling into the stall sort of doing a funny walk trying to keep from doing it before you get to the toilet and “WHAT?” WHAT IS THIS?” It looks sort of like a toilet but there is no toilet tank and no toilet seat! You’re sort of doing the squat thing not really sure of whether you should or even want to sit on the toilet bowl rim itself but eventually out of tiredness are forced to do the unthinkable. You Sit and well you know .. do your business. Actually, it is more like a volcano rupturing upside down because the Filipino food they fed you on the plane did not agree with your stomach and the immense 34-degree heat (But feels like 39 with the humidity has you feeling as sick as a dog. So this volcano erupts harshly downward into this toilet bowl, the water likewise is a Tsunami coming back hitting you on your rear end. You’re a mess and you need to clean up. You reach over to get the toilet paper, but Oh this is the Philippines. They for the most part (unless you are at a place that is well off or at a nicer mall that is not too cheap to buy toilet paper) don’t use toilet paper. If you are at a residence they would have a large bucket and a scoop with soap nearby which one can use a couple of scoops of water sort of wash yourself using your hand. (wash your hands please)Then you would get the soap in your hand’s lather up and, be using your hand get your backside all soapy. Then you rinse a number
of times (You really don’t want to have a soapy backside and soapy underwear) and then you wash your hands and the soap real well. (It works real good even better than toilet paper) (IF YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES TO DO IT BUT WE DON’T) So now, You are sitting on a dirty toilet rim of a dirty toilet in a dirty CR wondering what you ar going to do. At this point, you only have a few options. You can hope that someone comes into the stall next to you and is willing to let you borrow some toilet paper, (Oh ya, the stalls beside you were out of service … oops) If it has a flusher (Better check, some do not and require water in a tub with a scoop) you can flush the toilet and use otherwise (GROSS) you could use the water from the toilet bowl to wash yourself and flush again. You can hope that you are traveling with a relative or that an attendant comes in and will find some toilet paper but that is unlikely . (They often will have a dispenser of packages of toilet tissue (similar to our tissue we use for our noses that are wrapped in plastic.) for sale for p50 Lang (only). (OF COURSE, WE FAILED TO SEE THAT AS WE WERE IN SUCH A RUSH !!!!) the options are few and between but somehow the Filipinos are ready and prepared. You finally get out of the stall and go to wash your hands. You look and there are five sinks. One with No sink (porcelain broken) another with no faucet, another with no Tap handle (to turn on water) another with no drain pipe (water just runs onto your feet) and the last one all the taps faucets etc are missing. Oh did I mention No Paper towel in this CR.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. The Stories have been exaggerated just slightly but not much. I thoroughly Enjoy the Philippines and see everything as an adventure. You never know what new experience is coming next. If you can’t do anything about it, you might as well enjoy it and just have a good laugh. Take care of yourselves and I look forward to seeing you at the next blog. Comment Comment Comment, Please!!!!