Monday, May 05, 2008

Toilet Talk
It's where I spend my "ME time." It's where KP draws up inspiration for her scripts. I'm referring to... the bathroom.

Many of us take this "room" for granted but for those who do not have such a facility, being able to sit comfortably while disposing of their bodily functions is an acrobatic act as easy as, say, tiptoeing across a thin rope suspended in the air.

Several years ago, while I was still a beat reporter at the House of Representatives, I covered then House Speaker Jose de Venecia's visit to the MNLF's Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao. I answered the call of nature in the middle of - well, nature. The bathroom girls were allowed to use was made of wood and galvanized iron nailed together under a coconut tree. All of us were looking up the whole time, checking to see if someone was up there looking down on us.

On a recent trip to China, the girls I was with tried to avoid using the public toilets as much as we could. Even in American fastfood chains, the public toilets there are still mostly the squat-type.

In 2006, GMA Network sent me to the East-West Center's Jefferson Fellowship Program. One of our stops was India. As we were travelling to the Taj Mahal, we passed several fields where people "did their thing." They were spread out across the fields, each with his own water container. One man was even bold enough to take a spot by the roadside, his "cheeks" turned towards the passing motorists.

A study funded by the World Bank-Water and Sanitation Program and the United States Agency for International Development or USAID showed that 27 million Filipinos suffer the same fate. They do not have sanitary toilets and improved water sources for maintaining their personal hygiene. Both the World Bank and the USAID said it was an alarming situation. And it is, if you have more than 11,000 Filipinos, mostly children, dying from diarrhea and other water-borne diseases every year.

The French however are lucky. Their public toilets are airconditioned. But you'd have to pay to use them. When J, H and I were in Paris in 2003 to cover President Arroyo, trying out these public toilets was an adventure for us. We scavenged in our bags for coins to drop in the slot. We were like kids, clapping in delight as the door slid open and elbowing one another to get a better view inside.

Now, if only I can go to Japan to try out their high-tech, push button-controlled bathrooms...


Anonymous said...

I read books and magazines in my toilet. Ibang world ang bathroom. Sooo peaceful...kailangan nga lang maglit ng scented candles. =)

fried-neurons said...

Well, the next time you're in California be sure to come visit me. Those fancy French JC Decaux toilets are all over San Francisco, San Jose, and Palo Alto. Peeptee sents lang. :)