24 June 2010

To Pee Or Not To Pee: The Dilemma Women Face during Long Trips



It was 1992, and a colleague and I went on a summer trip to the Bicol Region. We were doing the trip for the first time and did not really know that we needed to make reservations first to get seats in one of those classy air-conditioned buses that plied the Manila-Naga route. Because we were already in Manila and we were also expected in Naga, we had no recourse but to travel “ordinary.”

The term referred to those open-windowed buses which had stiff upright seats and which entered just about every city and municipality along the way. The supposed 8-hour trip was inflated to 11! But this is not a Lonely Planet blog… Don’t expect a travel story!

Four hours out of Manila – we were caught in traffic along what is now called SLEX – somewhere in Sariaya if I remember correctly, one of the male passengers asked the driver to stop the bus so he could take relieve himself of bodily fluids. The driver was considerate and chose to stop beside a darkened sagingan along the highway.

Four hours is a long time to be seated inside a bus, so just about every male passenger got off to take a pee. There were those who peed right into the ground beside the bus; those who preferred the rubber tires; and those who went off into the sagingan.

When we were back at our seats, my companion whispered to me, “Pare, pansin mo walang babaeng bumabâ?” I didn’t, of course… My bladder was too full for me to care who else went off the bus. He was right, of course! The females had to wait until the bus went into the garahe in Lucena City to be able to relieve themselves. And that was another half-an-hour at the very least…



My companion’s observation reminded me of this anecdote my Mom loved to tell over and over, probably because it never failed to draw laughter from those listening. One time, Mom was traveling in one of those old wooden BLTBCo buses when one of the nanays on board loudly called out to the kundoktor, “Mamâ! Pakitigil naman ng bus at ako’y paihiin n’yo!”

The driver, considerate, found the nanay a good spot. But nanay squatted right beside the bus, covered as she was by her long saya, and proceeded to relieve herself. Apparently, after the last drop of fluid had dropped to the rocky ground, some air escaped as well.

Now the kundoktor was within hearing distance, so when the nanay was done and proceeded to climb back into the bus, the kundoktor clucked his tongue in mock horror and admonished the nanay, “Ang inyo naming paalam ay ihî lang eh! Bakit naman kayo umutot pa!”

Back to the trip my companion and I went on, at the garage in Lucena, we did notice that most of the females on board wore pants. I suppose this situation was but one glaring example of fashion and practicality not necessarily seeing eye to eye.

If the nanay in Mom’s anecdote could squat beside the bus in broad daylight without fear of marauding eyes invading her privacy, that was because her saya was loose and flowed all the way down to her ankles. Those among you who are already in middle-age can probably still remember Lolas who wore the same flowing dresses and who you thought walked oddly – i.e., nakabikangkang – until you saw the fluid trail on the dusty ground. Jumingle lang pala si Lola

Even in the dark sagingan next to which our bus stopped so the male passengers could relieve themselves, it would have taken one really desperate woman in jeans to have done the same. That was why they all waited for the garahe

For most males, time and place are never constraints to the need to pee. You have all seen vehicles parked beside roadsides with the drivers seemingly admiring the landscape. When I was a child, we used to refer to drivers like these as nagsa-sight-seeing… The curved arms are always a dead giveaway that they are holding onto something in front of them…

Males can pee beside a tree or in front of the wall; the latter is disgusting, though. A parked truck or bus is just as convenient; albeit just make sure the driver is off it as well.

Once, traveling back home with the football team after a match, we saw this magluluwas truck parked under the Canlubang flyover. There was a young lad peeing behind the truck. The driver apparently decided to play a prank by releasing the break and stepping on the gas. The poor lad behind the truck looked a funny sight trying to run after the truck with his pee still squirting out!

For females, I suppose as long as they prefer pants, long trips will always be problematical. In this country – where public toilets do not necessarily translate into clean toilets – even the simple act of peeing becomes a ponderous affair. Unless, of course, the saya makes an unexpected comeback!

They do say that fashion just goes around in circles, so you never can tell!

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