05 March 2013

As Mundane a Thing as a Bath

Allen, a former player of mine, is back home from Vienna to marry his fiancée; and we got together yesterday for early dinner. Now, having Allen around, one is certain to hear an earful about not only life in the Austrian capital but also about living in Europe in general.

Allen is a mere 30 years of age but has a wise old head sitting on his shoulders. He has already purchased his own flat in Vienna and rents out one of the rooms for added income. This helps to pay the mortgage.

One of his boarders, he told me, used to be this young Frenchwoman who would complain to him that he not only showered too frequently but also that he took an eternity whenever he did so.

This practice was bad, she would chide him, for the environment.

My guess is that other nationalities’ bathing habits are just not the same as ours; not to mention the food that they eat. That said, I will also be curious to hear from others what smell we Filipinos give off.
Hearing about this tale was a certifiable WTF moment. I mean, who in this country complains about someone taking a bath?

We do when someone does NOT take one!

But then again, Allen is a much kinder soul than I ever will be. I would have drowned the Frenchwoman in a bathtub just to spite.

Allen, being the kind and patient young man that he is, explained to the Frenchwoman that taking showers is just a Filipino thing for him.

Admit it, you and I, we all feel gazillions of unseen creatures crawling all over our skin if we do not take a bath before going to bed.

Allen was right, therefore. It is a Filipino thing.

Albeit, I told Allen, my suspicion is that daily bathing is something that we picked up from the Chinese. In fact, the early Europeans who crossed the oceans to explore the Far East used to be mortified that the Chinese – and the Japanese, too – bathed ever so often.

As things were in Medieval Europe, taking baths was reserved for only the most special of occasions. It was even believed that taking baths was unhealthy because of the mistaken notion that diseases were brought on by the coldness one was exposed to when taking a bath.

Of course, modern Science eventually showed that taking baths is, in fact, healthy. Being clean spares one from the viruses and bacteria which, in reality, cause diseases more than the cold ever will.

The aversion to bathing frequently, I suspect, has always had not just a little thing to do with the climate. Even here in Lipa during the late and early parts of each year, one needs to motivate oneself just to take a bath.

It will be plain and simple bigotry to say that all Europeans are averse to taking baths. In fact, Allen was telling me of a Belgian colleague who made it a point to announce to all who cared that she showered frequently.

That said, showering or taking baths in temperate countries must be something that does indeed require self-motivation. In contrast, we who live here in the tropics think of baths as a necessity.

Do we not, after all, crinkle our noses when the guy next to us in the bus or jeepney has been walking under the blazing sun too much?

About this Belgian colleague, I asked Allen if she smells. She does not, Allen was quick to say.

Well, that is what frequent showering or bathing gives you. Truth be told, I have been with well-dressed and educated Europeans and Americans who if I came close enough gave off something that offended my nostrils. Not all; just some.

My guess is that other nationalities’ bathing habits are just not the same as ours; not to mention the food that they eat. That said, I will also be curious to hear from others what smell we Filipinos give off.

Getting back to Allen’s rather forward French boarder, let us just say that Allen’s description of her was not the same as that of the Belgian. What I found extraordinary was the gall to try and force one culture onto another under the guise of environmental awareness.


Hanged, Drawn and Quartered
Undas, Undras and the Filipino-Mexican Connection




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