public toilets in the Philippines

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They call it CR or Comfort Room (I wonder why, because there is little comfortable in it), sometimes they also name it a Rest Room (I wonder why, because it sure is no place to rest a while), and in expensive malls they like to call it ‘Paid Lounge’ (although I do not think it is a place where I would like to ‘lounge’) . . . .

Coming from Western Europe, I’m used to going to pee in a decent toilet, at home, at the house of friends or family, at work or where ever I go. Even for number two’s there’s always a good and decent toilet available: clean and comfortable.

But I’m not in Europe anymore. I am in The Philippines now. Yes, I now reside in a nice, large city in The Philippines and toilets is one of the things that reminds me of being in a different country, yes in a different part of the world.
As I drink at Starbucks, shop at malls, and eat at some nice restaurants, go to a bar, I am surrounded by westernization (and not only about the things available, but for sure the prices too) . . . until I need a toilet. Crap. Ha! Crap, indeed . . .

My observations:

  • The squat toilet.
    I don’t know about you, but I just can’t seem to figure out how to do it without wetting my pants or make them dirty otherwise. I think there should be some instructions somewhere . . . I’m pretty sure I’m just not doing it correctly . . . I’ve given up unless it’s my only option and then I just close my eyes and pretend I’m back in a much less developed place in western Europe somewhere.
    The only issue is that here I’m not wearing quick-dry, old, junky clothes. A little dribble in the bush is fine, a little dribble before going to try on new clothes is just gross.
  • The “wet toilet”. A freshly cleaned wet toilet at a mall.
    When I have to answer the call of nature (need to do a number 2) I am used to sit down on a proper toilet with a firm toilet seat.
    On the positive side, there is a proper toilet seat. The negative side, it’s usually covered in water. Hmmm, and there’s no tissue available to clean or dry it off. I often hope it is spray water and not pee “water”, but I digress . . .
    toilet-signI like to think that as I hover over the mysterious dribble below, I am building thigh muscles. I feel toned already! The issue though, really, is the “sprayer” (some toilets have it). I have a few questions…. If one was to use the sprayer, how do you dry yourself? (I mean, that’s kind of why I wanted toilet paper in the first place . . .) Another question, why is there water everywhere in the toilets? Aren’t you supposed to aim and shoot? Or was the person before me rinsing his or her legs from the dribble after he/she refused to sit on the previous user’s dribble and his/her toned leg muscles gave out and he/she fell . . .
  • The most common toilet: half clean or sometimes dirty, and no toilet seat.
    Everything wet and a bucket of water with plastic tabo in it in a corner and a smelly place.
    Places like this I do not go to follow natures call, just a fast pee and that’s it. I guess that females must have problems in such places. Knowing that (as very often advertised on TV: Filipinos do not like germs and bacteria’s), I wonder how these places are getting this dirty and smelly. The smell I can understand, because not enough water is used to flush (it’s often not working). And I see janitors cleaning and mopping the place continuously, so I assume it is clean enough. But still I hesitate to go there and sit.

Philippine public toilets in malls and the like seldom have tissue to use, and if they have it is not in the toilet itself, but near the washing facility. Many places however have vending machines at the entrance where not only sanitary napkins but also toilet tissue is sold.
After washing my hands (with soap if it’s available) I like to dry my hands. Sometimes there are electric blowers available and if I am lucky they work as well.

Regardless, I used to be a Boy Scout. I can handle it. I just bring my own tissue. AT ALL TIMES. Regardless of how “western” a place looks, I’ll follow the Scout motto: Be Prepared.
But most of the time I go to the toilet before leaving the house. Just a pee I can handle easily, I just have to close my nose sometimes.

All this is part of the charm of this beautiful country. Not everything can be perfect. If I couldn’t bare it I shouldn’t have come here and live the life I want: to be an expat in the Philippines.




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  1. Jan,
    I remember the first time I visited my wife and her family in 2006, some of the public bathrooms in the Philippines was difficult for me to deal with. But my first rude awakening happened during my layover in Nagoya, Japan. I had gone to the ? otoko (men’s bathroom) there in the Airport, and was using the urinal, when suddenly a Japanese lady pushing a vacuum cleaner walked in and began vacuuming the carpet right behind me. Well, as you can probably guess, I cut everything short and quickly rushed out the door. I had never experienced anything like that in my life in a public restroom.