Bawal Umihi Dito

Bawal Umihi Dito!

Iyan ang sigaw ng maraming pader sa Pilipinas. Kung ikaw ay maglalakad sa ating mga lansangan, ito ang tatambad sa iyo na nakasulat saan mang sulok ka tumingin. Marahil masasanghap mo rin ang mapanghing kalagayan ng ating mga siyudad.

Bakit nga ba kailangan pang isulat ang babalang ito? Hindi ba common sense naman na hindi tayo dapat umihi sa pader, o sa poste, o sa kalye? Sino bang magpapaskil ng “Pwedeng Umihi Dito.” Hindi ba dapat alam natin na ito’y labag sa batas? Pero tanong ng iba, against the law or against the wall?

Sa katunayan, karamihan ng mga munisipyo ay may ordinansa laban sa pag-ihi sa publiko. Maari kang kasuhan ng disorderly conduct o kaya’y indecent exposure pa, at maaring magmulta o makulong. Pero bakit pawang hindi ito ipinatutupad?

Man-urinating-beside-a-bawal-umihi-dito-sign-in-the-Philippines

(photo from internet)

Hindi sa ako’y nagmamalinis o hinuhusgahan ko ang mga gumagawa nito. Dahil minsan din akong umihi sa gulong ng kotse ng tatay ko, nang ako’y musmos pa. At saka noong panahon nang ako’y nasa kolehiyo, maraming mga lalaking estudyante ang “nagdidilig” ng halaman doon sa may grandstand ng UST bago magsimula ang aming ROTC, dahil hassle ang pumunta sa CR. Join na rin ako sa pagdidilig.

Ngunit ano nga ba ang dahilan kung bakit palasak sa Pilipinas ang pag-ihi sa pader?

1. Una sa lahat, dahil tayo ay nai-ihi.

Oo nga naman, hindi mo gagawin ito kung hindi ka nai-ihi. Pero hindi iyon ang gusto kong sabihin. Ang aking tinutukoy ay hindi kayang mapigilan ang pag-ihi.

Baka may enlarged prostate na si kuya? O kaya nama’y lasing? O baka naman may hyperactive bladder o balisawsaw si ate. (Totoo, hindi lang mga kalalakihan ang gumagawa nito.)

Pero Pinoy lang ba ang hindi makapigil ng kanilang ihi?

2. Dahil nais nating markahan ang ating territoryo.

Alam ba ninyo, na kapag inihian ng aso, o kaya’y isang hayop ang isang puwesto, kanyang ipinapaalam sa ibang aso, o ibang hayop, na ito’y kanyang territoryo?

Pero hindi yata ito angkop sa tao. Dahil kadalasan, hindi natin pag-aari ang pader na ating ini-ihian. Kaya naman maraming nauuwi sa away dahil sa pader ng kapitbahay tayo umiihi. At kung ika’y umihi habang nakadungaw ang ang may-ari, baka hindi lang sigaw, kundi itak ang abutin mo. Putol!

3. Dahil walang sapat na public toilet.

Hindi naman siguro makakaila, na kulang, o talagang wala, tayong sapat na pampublikong palikuran. Kung ika’y nai-ihi, kailangan mong pumunta sa loob ng mall o sa restaurant para umihi. At maaring may bayad pa ito, o pagkahaba-haba ng pila. O kaya nama’y sasabihan kang “para sa customer lang po ang toilet.”

Kaya walang ibang choice kundi pigilin hanggang sa maiihi sa salawal, o humanap na lang ng pader.

4. Hindi ipinapatupad ang batas laban dito.

Alam kong mas maraming malalaking problema ang ating bansa. Tulad ng trapik, o mabagal na ekonomiya, o corruption sa gobyerno. Kaya ba hindi na lang pinapansin ang batas laban sa pag-ihi sa publiko?

At sino ang magpapatupad nito? Ang may-ari ng pader? Mga baranggay tanod? Mga pulis? Mahina siguro ang “kotong” sa mahuhuli dito, hindi tulad sa nahuhuli sa batas trapiko.

Kaya maliban na ikaw ay umihi sa poste kung saan nagtatago ‘yung pulis, malamang bale wala ito. Kaya hanggang sa paskil na “Bawal Umihi Dito” na lang, at ipinauubaya na sa pader na ipagtanggol nito ang sarili.

Pero mayroon na ngayong bagong hydrophobic paint na “pee-proof” daw. Kapag ipinahid ito sa pader, tumatalbog pabalik ang ihi sa sinumang salarin. Makakaganti na rin ang inaaping pader! Magkaroon kaya nito sa Pilipinas?

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kaliwa – karaniwang pader; kanan – may “pee-proof” paint (image from internet)

5. Dahil walang galang at walang disiplina.

Siguro dito nauuwi ang lahat ng ito. Wala tayong disiplina sa ating sarili.

Walang disiplina sa batas trapiko. Walang disiplinang pumila sa linya. Walang disiplinang tumupad sa oras. Walang disiplina sa pagtatapon ng basura. Walang galang sa pag-aari. Walang galang sa ibang tao. Walang galang sa ating sarili.

Kung simpleng bagay gaya ng hindi pag-ihi sa pader ay hindi natin kayang disiplinahin ang ating sarili, paano pa kaya ang mas malalaking problema ng lipunan tulad ng pagnanakaw ng kaban ng bayan, corruption, at pagiging tapat sa isa’t-isa?

Kawawa naman ang ating bansa. Sabi pa naman sa ating pambansang awit “duyan ka nang magiting.” Pero siguro nga, kaya sinabing duyan, dahil laging nai-ihian.

Kaya sa susunod, kung may makita kang umiihi sa pader, magalang mo na lang silang paalalahanan. At kung ikaw ang iihi sa pader……”Humarap ka, duwag!”

Coming out from the Cornfields

I was standing at a clearing beside a cornfield. Then all of a sudden I saw people, dressed in their sports gear, coming out of the cornfield. Was I dreaming?

My name is not Kevin Costner, and the scene I was witnessing was not from the film “Fields of Dreams,” which by the way, was shot in Iowa.

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scene from the movie Field of Dreams

The people I saw emerging from the cornfields were not baseball players, but rather cyclists, with their biking shirts, shorts and helmets on.

Here’s my story.

Me and my friends took part in the recently concluded Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), which was a 7-day long event. The total length of this year’s route was 405 miles. Though we only rode a 1-day leg, from Perry to Des Moines (3rd day route), which was still a formidable 50 mile course.

We could have not picked a better day to participate. Besides that it was the shortest course, and probably the flattest (1308 feet of climb), but the weather was also perfect. The temperature was in the high 60’s to 70’s F (it was in the 90’s to 100’s the day before), and was overcast, so it was cool the whole day through.

My friends and I were not real cyclists and this was our first RAGBRAI ride. We rode slow that I don’t think we passed any cyclists, yet everybody seems to be overtaking us. Including a grandma who was celebrating her 90th birthday, riding a recumbent tandem bike with her daughter, who was also older than we were.

I learned many biker’s lingo during the ride. They shout “biker off” to alarm other riders, when they are stopping and exiting on the shoulder of the road. “Biker on,” when they are getting back on the road and rejoining the pack. (I wish I could shout “flame on,” like the superhero Human Torch, and my bike will be ablaze and zoom.) “Car up” when there’s an approaching car up ahead, or “car back” when there’s a vehicle behind. Then there’s “on your right” or “on your left,” to warn you when they were about to overtake you.

I also heard a chilling warning calling out “Biker down!” Aside from calling assistance to the biker who fell, it is also to alert other bikers to get ready to stop or slow down to avoid domino-like collision.

Unfortunately, that call for “biker down” was for my friend, after he collided with another friend. I told you we were novice bikers. Good thing we were going slow, so he was not seriously injured, and only had a scraped knee. He just don’t have photos to remind him of the RAGBRAI, but a physical memento as well. He wore that wound like a badge of honor.

We stopped a number of times to rest. And to eat too. The course was lined with food stalls and other specialty booths offering a variety of things, especially in towns we passed through.

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photo courtesy of RAGBRAI.com

Then in one lonely stretch of the road flanked by vast cornfields, as we stopped for ice cream (did we eat more than we burned?), was when I saw people coming out of the cornfields.

Why were they coming out of the cornfields? Was it a mirage?

No, it was not. And it has nothing to do with “build it, and they will come,” symbolic theme of the movie “Field of Dreams.” (Though you can say RAGBRAI draws both national and international participants to Iowa.) These people emerging out of the cornfields had a more plain and practical explanation.

There were more than 10,000 bike riders that took part on RAGBRAI. Even though there were several hundreds of portable toilets, mostly placed in the town stops, it may still not enough to provide “relief” for everybody in every place.

But who need toilets, when you have thousands of acres of cornfields spread all over the course, right?

So what did the riders do inside the cornfields? You don’t want to know.

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.