Recalling my toilet experiences

(Photo taken from

My Paris trip last year made me realize that there are many ways that a woman cleans her privates.

When we arrived at the condominium from the airport I really wanted to pee (in the Philippines we refer to pee as ‘jingle) and on entering the bathroom I was surprised to see two toilet seats colored white.

While I sat at the first one, I examined the second toilet seat. Since it was clean and the bathroom smelled good I sat on it. There was a faucet near my back and it just dawned on me that it’s used to wash my butt and my “thing.”

I sat on it and tried to figure out how to use the faucet at the back and sure enough it worked, Looking back, I laughed and wondered, how did I ever manage to use it?

I didn’t tell Karen, my travel companion, about how proud I was of my little discovery. With my discovery I mused about my own “toilet experiences” in the Philippines.

The 'kabo'
Back home in the Philippines, specifically in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental in Northern Mindanao, I use a plastic “tabo” (dipper or scooper) in taking a bath and in fetching water from a pail or basin of water whenever I pee or uhm, take a dump.

Unless I bathe in the river (obviously I don’t pee or take a dump there) then I don’t need a “tabo.” As I moved up in the world, there were changes I had to adjust to and that includes using a modern bathroom or toilet.

The “tabo” as Tagalogs call it or “kabo” as the Visayans say it, is easy to use in the toilet where it’s placed either at the side or at the back of the homemade toilet seat.                                                               (Photo from 

Don’t ask me what the toilet seat is made of…suffice it to say it’s adequate for my needs then. The “kabo” or “tabo” I started out with is made from coconut shell which remains my favorite. It’s better than the milk cans I used as “kabo.”

The “kabo” is also used in the kitchen but don’t get me wrong. One “kabo” stays in the kitchen while another one is designated at the toilet which in the Philippine countryside is separately located from the main house.

Recalling my toilet experience in the Philippines led me to searching Google for the toilet practices and facilities in other countries.

There I learned that in France, toilet sanitation was augmented by the invention of the bidet in the 1710s. With the improvements to plumbing in the mid- to late 19th century, the bidet moved from the bedroom (where it was kept with the chamber pot) to the bathroom.

According to Wikipedia, modern bidets use a stream of warm water to cleanse the genitals and anus. Before modern plumbing, bidets sometimes had a hand-crank to achieve the same effect.

Wikipedia also states further that the bidet is commonplace in many European countries, especially in Spain (30 percent), Portugal (70 percent) and Italy (95 percent), and also in Japan where approximately half of all households have a form of bidet (often combined with the toilet in a single appliance). It is also very popular in the Middle East.

In India and the Indian subcontinent, over 95 percent of the population use water with or without soap for cleansing the anal area after defecation.

In places where water is scarce or not closely available, a stone or similar hard material is used instead. The use of toilet paper like in the Western World is rare in these places and is seen only in some urban and Westernized societies.

The cleaning of hands after this cleansing process is mandatory and is done using soap. If soap is unavailable, soil, ash or sand could be used to clean the used hand or both hands. Modern toilets use spray bidets.

Older toilets may or may not have a running water source, but buckets, bails and mugs are used for storage and for cleaning.

So my big discovery back in Paris which I hid from Karen, my travel companion, for fear of exposing my ignorance is the “bidet.” That’s it.

In the course of my journalism career, I attended a lot of seminars which required me to stay overnight in hotels which had different toilet facilities.

I remembered going on a study tour in Australia with 11 members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and it took me some time to learn how to use the bathroom especially how to use the bathtub and shower head.

There were so many buttons and I was confused which one to use to clean my butt and which one had hot or cold water. It took me a day to learn how to use it. During that time, I missed using my old “kabo.”

Now that I live here in the US, I have to learn how to use the modern toilet otherwise I’d end up all smelly. On second thought, I realized that even if you shower every day, you still wind up sweaty at the end of the day. If you have time, do visit my blogs and website listed below. See you there.

(photo taken from wikihow)


(Susan Palmes-Dennis is a veteran journalist from Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao in the Philippines who works as a nanny in North Carolina. This page will serve as a venue for news and discussion on Filipino communities in the Carolinas. See her website at Read her blogs on susanpalmesstraightfrom the These and other articles also appear at
You can also connect with her through her Pinterest account at…)

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