Sunday, March 1, 2009
The essential "tabo".
In the news is a Filipino machinist working in a small Australian town who was fired from his job because he insisted of using a tabo( water dipper) when he use the office toilet. Most likely the man brought this with him to the loo so that after he relieved himself he can clean his "down-under" and I don't mean the geographical place.
There was an exchange of views though, as the Australian insisted that when in Australia, one must do things the Australian way - in other words, the dipper was taboo. But our feisty Filipino held his ground and lost his job. An uproar followed, and the trade union of machinists sides with my countrymen. The company however, eventually claimed the worker was being disciplined for having left his work without proper leave.
The Townsville incident relates to a hygienic function, the Filipino way: cleaning up after doing scatological duties, not just by dousing the rear with water but sometimes even soaping it, and after the cleaning, taking up another dipper of water to flush the toilet followed by still another dipper ritual to wash and soap the hands.
Now, you might ask, why can’t Filipinos make life simpler by using toilet paper? Simple. Because it has become an enduring habit incorporated into our bodies and our psyche. Many Filipinos, even upper-class ones, will insist that the dipper leaves them cleaner down there. And also because it’s more ecologically friendly than using moist wipes or toilet paper.
But please don’t think that this dipper and washing thing is a sign of barbarism or of the impoverished Third World. There are many cultures in the world that dislike toilet paper, which is why you have the bidet, a low-mounted plumbing fixture with nozzles to spray water for cleaning the bum.
When you think about it, the dipper is a low-tech, affordable version of the bidet that we call tabo or for young Filipinos growing up overseas - teboe.