insoymada
mga awit ug yawit sa kasingkasing bisaya

Toilet economy

Last week was probably the most meaningful and spiritually enriching Lent for me so far. As I toured the towns for the Visita Iglesia (which consisted of me stopping in front of churches and proceeding to the nearest sari-sari store for beer), I discovered that our public comfort rooms had become so user-friendly as to have signs that read: “IHI = P3.00, LIBANG = P5.00.”

And for the benefit of tourists who might forget they are in the Philippines, a translation was added below: “Urinate = Php 3.00, Deficit = Php 5.00.”

If it were not Holy Week, I would have questioned why a member of the public had to pay for the use of a public CR. But it was Holy Week, so I decided to be extra considerate. I just approached the “CR attendant” and gently asked him: “WHYTHEF>CK@*&^#!!!GRRR!++#%!!!??”

I mean, should I also pay for my favorite spot in the town plaza? Really? Then here’s a suggestion for the service and corresponding rates: “LINGKOD-LINGKOD = P50.00, BARUG-BARUG = P30.00, IHI = P3.00, LIBANG P5.00.”

“For maintenance, sir,” the CR attendant told me, and, as if reading my thoughts, added, “Yes sir, ‘CR attendant’ is a regular position in government. Plantilla sir, with payroll.”

It was Holy Week. A CR attendant was proud of his job. And Gilbert “I Am Jesus” Bargayo was being nailed to the cross for the 173th time even if he had chicken pox. And there I was complaining about things related to comfort rooms. How inconsequential my worries were compared to the woes of the world!

So I decided to make a personal sacrifice by researching on man’s act of discharging bodily wastes. My extensive research required typing the words “excreta + comfort rooms + Php3.00 + Php5.00” and clicking “search.”

According to my research, there is actually a Presidential Decree enforcing fees for the use of public CRs called “Presidential Decree Enforcing Fees For The Use Of Public CRs.” The decree used as basis an independent international survey that says human activities like urination and defecation are extremely private acts that should require fees when done in public. This is the same survey used by many mega cities to support ordinances penalizing spitting in public.

The survey, simply called “The Survey,” also reveals what each of these private acts costs a particular economy when done in public for free. In a Third World country for example, every minute a person spent urinating in public free of charge cost the government P1.00 in lost income. Add a few centavos to the amount if one stayed longer in the CR to defecate. The Survey explains that every minute a man spent in any given public area should translate into government income if democracy as we know it is to survive.

I have to use my imagination to understand this. Let’s see. A trisikad driver earns at least P3.00 for the first three minutes he spends pedaling a passenger to his destination. It’s a forced one, but it makes sense.

This explains the fixed fees at public CRs; because my research also showed that an average person with average bladder strength stays in the CR for an average of three minutes. This excludes allowance for the obligatory makeup retouch for women, which makes me wonder why public CRs are not charging women more.

But can we talk about women next Lent? Thanks.

(sun.star, march 25, 2008)

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