Bathroom Reflections

We had our bathrooms renovated and after weeks of deconstruction and construction, I would say they look pretty nice. Our kids said that it seems “like a hotel.” We added a wide window in the master’s bath, the shower room was expanded and enclosed with glass doors, the cabinets were white with marble top, and the sink fixtures are made of chrome. It feels really posh and inviting.

where’s the tabo?

As I was sitting in my “morning throne” one day, a thought came to me. (The muse of genius can come during the most mundane circumstances.) It dawned on me on how different my situation and surroundings have been, including our les toilettes. It is such a far cry from the bathroom that I grew up with in the Philippines.

Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t have an outhouse or a latrine for toilet when I was a kid. We had a real bathroom with all the needed amenities, that is, the toilet bowl, “timba” (pail), “tabo” (dipper), and water. What else do you need?

Our bathroom in Manila had a shower head, but the water pressure was so weak that we did not use the shower at all. We use the “timba” and “tabo” to take a bath, just like most Filipinos do. The toilet flush was not working, so we flush it the conventional Pinoy way –  by pouring a pail of water into the bowl (“buhos” style). Our bathroom even had a sink, but again no water comes out in the faucet sink, so to wash our face, we had to squat on the floor and use the “batya” (laundry basin).

The bathroom was cramped and damp. The floor was always wet, in fact you have to use the “bakya” (wooden slippers) whenever you enter it. It had a small window but it was always close unless the neighbors see you. In fact our neighbor’s window was only a few feet away from our bathroom window. It was so close, they can probably hear every time we flush (or should I say “buhos”) the toilet. It was so close they probably can even smell………..ah…err….. let me not go there.

I was still daydreaming about our bathroom in Sampaloc when I stepped inside our newly refurbished shower here in Iowa. As I turned on the shower and the invigorating warm water woke me up from my sleepiness, another thought came to me…….

I realized that it does not matter whether you take a bath in a plush shower, or in luxurious bathtub, or use “timba” and “tabo,” for they all attain the same effect of cleansing us and making us smell good. But what really matters in life is our character within, that no kind of bath or shower can cleanse.

It also does not matter whether you wash your face in a sink with silver faucets or use the “batya,” for they will rinse your face just the same. Though a clean face is important (unless your work in the coal mine), what is more important is our attitude when we face the world that will take us places.

Moreover it does not make a difference whether we use a fancy toilet, or an outhouse, or just a hole on the ground, they all provide relief and comfort. (Though I will still not approve on the practice of relieving oneself on the wall.) What is more important is the true comfort that the love of our family and friends provide.

I stepped out of the shower and dried myself with a towel. I looked out at the bathroom window overlooking the expanse of fields and river valley, while the sun (not neighbors) was peeping behind the hills. I was ready to face another new day. And it had nothing to do with my chrome rain shower head.

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