Taking a bath in the Philippines

Nowhere is the positive Filipino spirit more demonstrated than when there is interruption of basic services. Like for example: water disruption. A service that’s basic as that, can drive many people insane if its availability is intermittent and unannounced—it certainly would on me. But my family here has taught me to be resilient—to deal with it—and not get stressed out about things not going according my way; for example, like wanting to take a bath after a very hot and humid day and finding out that there’s no water flowing out from the faucets.

We have water and electricity cuts every now and then (ok, more often than I’d like). But back in Finland this would be “disaster”; but here in the Philippines, people just take it in stride. They just adapt to whatever situation they are facing.

If there’s no water, they go and search for alternative water sources; like the rivers (if you happen to live close to one), or in our case, a nearby freshwater well. While many of our neighbours use this well as their primary water source, for us, we only make use of it in times of unexpected water disruption for whatever reason (or after a calamity like Typhoon Haiyan).

Like that time in the video below. We’ve had no running water for more than 2 days already because the source pipe was being repaired. Luckily, the water cooperative announced beforehand that while they were going to cut the water flow for repairs, they gave consumers a few hours to stock water. So we were able to fill all available containers with water; but still not enough to last more than 2 days for a household of 7 and 4 dogs.

Here at our neighbor’s freshwater well, the kids showed me how to fetch water using a modified plastic bucket. It’s a good way to exercise too. This is a very common way of taking a bath in the Philippines.

I witness situations like these on the streets all the time. People taking a bath on nearby wells or water faucets. Since many people don’t have running water in their houses, these public water sources serve as kitchen, bathroom, and laundry station at the same time.

I’ve noticed one thing very quickly after I arrived in the Philippines for the first time: people here are very clean. Clean, as in freshly showered. It doesn’t matter how basic their living conditions are, most people always smell like soap and shampoo when they walk by me. (I haven’t witnessed this phenomena that frequently back in Europe, to be quite honest.)

This only shows that water cuts—and they occur very often here—is not an excuse for people to stop their daily activities or lower their personal hygiene standards. You just deal with whatever is there, and of course, with a smile.