♫Shittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay ♫

This short article was prompted by Mike’s comments about the 7M Filipinos not having a toilet. I just want to share an unforgettable childhood memory. Unforgettable because I nearly fell into a polluted creek similar to the one in the photo and all the shits that were floating on it.

So here goes: I was about 6 to 7 years old at the time. The location was somewhere in Cebu city, I don’t remember. One of Mum’s cousin had a money lending business in Cebu. Mum would use her as our baby sitter whenever the Yaya had the day off.

This particular day, she took me to a place similar to the photo to collect money owed to her. To this day, I don’t the hell know why she took me there. And in order to get to the borrower, we had to cross this narrow bridge with the polluted waters below. But in this instance, there were 2 kids defecating (OK, shitting for yous ol’ Aussie mates of mine), perched precariously on the edge of that bridge. Not wanting the kids or us to fall, we had to walk ever so s-l-o-w-l-y on the edge of the bridge. Guess what? We had to do the same on the way back because there were 2 more kids shitting on the edge of the bridge!

We survived that bridge (whew!). And cousin got her money plus interest…5/6 apparently. And I lived to tell the tale without getting dunked in that polluted creek. But even to this day, I see similar sights in Manila and Cebu. If it has not changed in 20 years, it never will!!

Published in Poverty, Sanitation


  1. Profile gravatar of Beavis

    I’m not going to use toilet paper because toilet paper, you know, costs money. Think of all the money I have saved over the years just by not using toilet paper. It’s little things in life that make a difference. A peso savings here, 25 cents there, and pretty soon we are talking big money.

    1. Profile gravatar of Mike

      I saw one in the states about a cheap man. This guy was a preacher so around Halloween he would not had out candy because Halloween celebrates the devil. Well this guy was so cheap that every time his trees got toilet papered he was out there with his kids getting it out of the tree so he could reuse it.

    2. Profile gravatar of Captain PFB
      Captain PFB

      My partner once said to me, “One peso is a lot of money”.

      I was like, “uuuhh no it’s not”

      He’s like, “It is if you’re poor”

      I’m like, “If you’re poor, then dad should not be spending those pesos drinking Red Horse every fucking night with the other “poor” men who do nothing and make their wives sell fish at the market for 100 pesos profit per day.”

  2. Profile gravatar of Sarah
    Sarah Post author

    Beavis, remind me not to shake hands with you if we ever met, OK? 🙂

    Remember the shits dotted all around the seaside cliffs in mum’s town? I asked my cousin if the “shitters” take a bucket of water while perched on the rocks to clean themselves after? The answer was “no”. So what do they clean themselves with, I asked. He said “oh, anything Ate. Newspapers, leaves, corn husks”. “you bullshitting me?” I asked
    “no Ate, I am serious”. Sure enough, there were some crumpled old newspapers around the cliffs, as well as corn husks (ouch!). As for leaves, since the area had lots of trees, it’s hard to tell which ones had fallen from the tree and which ones had been used!

    As for the kids sitting on the edge of that bridge….no I did not see them with papers of any kind to wipe their bums. Maybe they go home and wash up afterwards? I hope so…..

  3. Profile gravatar of Pissnoy Allergy
    Pissnoy Allergy

    Sarah wrote: “This short article was prompted by Mike’s comments about the 7M Filipinos not having a toilet.”

    Actually, the fact that so many do not have a toilet of any kind speaks volumes as to how backward that country must have been for a very, very, long time. The fact that it is either a modern western style WC or nothing at all. They just never seem to have invented any of the “in between kinds of technology” that took us westerners to where we are today.

    You see the same thing with their fishing boats, either they paddle them or they are equipped with a western style internal combustion engine. Intermediate technology, like putting a sail on the boat, is hardly ever seen.

      1. Profile gravatar of Pissnoy Allergy
        Pissnoy Allergy

        I got another example also, fetching water. There is either the western style electric pump or the bucket on a string. No hand powered pumps or wind mills to raise the water from the ground, as far as I can tell.