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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

Our toilets as mirrors of our country

Everything that’s wrong with our country, our culture, our leaders and our people are reflected in the state of our toilets.

We have government officials who were reared in wealth and who went to top-rank universities, but they preside over public buildings with toilets that are disgustingly dirty. These officials cocoon themselves in neat offices equipped with clean toilets for their exclusive use. But check the restrooms devoted to their staff and visiting taxpayers, and you will be revolted by their filthy conditions. It’s emblematic of our leaders’ utter indifference to the welfare of their constituents.

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We have business establishments (restaurants, bus terminals, gas stations, etc.) that are earning huge revenues. But their unclean comfort rooms repulse the senses. It’s emblematic of our business leaders’ disinterest on the wellbeing of their patrons.

We are a people who pride ourselves in taking a bath not once but twice a day, but our toilet manners leave restrooms nauseatingly dirty for the next user. It’s emblematic of our downright absence of empathy for our fellowmen.

We are a country obsessed with obtaining Guinness World Records. Among the frivolous world records we have achieved are the “biggest smiley human formation,” “largest fish display,” “most number of motorcycle engines started simultaneously,” “most number of horns sounded simultaneously” and “most coffee beans moved with chopsticks in one minute.” With the repugnant conditions of our lavatories, we seem to be vying for the world record crown of the “country with the filthiest toilets.”

We call our toilets “comfort rooms” and “restrooms” as our cultural means to euphemize our latrines, but instead of comfort and rest, anyone who uses those rooms feels disgust and revulsion.

I am amazed at the forbearance of our women as they are the ones who suffer the most because of the horrible conditions of our toilets. I feel sorry for women when they use unisex toilets with no bowl seats or bowl seats splattered with urine, because of inconsiderate men who must be remnants of the Neanderthal race. I can just imagine the difficult “mad kung-fu squats” women make in order to urinate without any part of their body touching the dirty toilet bowl.

Women should lead a campaign to name and shame officials who hold fort in public buildings with appalling toilets. The most notorious government buildings with repulsive toilets are the provincial capitols, city halls and municipal halls, and the politicians who head them should be the subjects of online shame campaigns.

Women groups should also spearhead a boycott of establishments with poorly-maintained restrooms. It is appalling that businesses that are raking in tons of money and spending tens of millions in advertisements are unwilling to devote a pittance to have clean toilets.

Public buildings and commercial establishments should be mandatorily required to install bidet sprayers (the short water hoses used to wash the anus and genitalia) which are cleaner and cheaper compared to toilet papers. They must also have personnel keenly devoted to cleaning the toilets every half hour.

Commercial establishments should be denied business permits for having unclean toilets, because they are health hazards in the same way that dirty restaurant kitchens are. Laws and ordinances should be passed making business owners with unhygienic toilets criminally liable.

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A campaign to instill proper toilet manners among our children should be included in the school curriculum. The empathy they develop in thinking of the welfare of their brethren may yet contribute in curing the culture of indifference that has grown among our citizens.

I have a stinking suspicion that we have fostered leaders who spew obscenities, and a multitude of people who tolerate them, because we are numbed by the sensory brutalities we experience in our toilets daily.

How can we aspire for a clean government if we can’t even manage to have clean toilets? Raise the standards for our toilets, and we may yet end up raising our standards for everything else in this country.

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TAGS: Flea Market of Ideas, Joel Ruiz Butuyan, toilets
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