We Need More Public Restrooms

It is frustrating, even painful, to hold your bladder while looking for a public restroom in the middle of a trip. We could go to one in a restaurant if the management understands the plight of people having a ‘full tank.’ Otherwise, you could be turned away. There was once a man who got into a messy quarrel with a security officer at a branch of a famous fast food chain here in the Philippines. He wanted to enter just to relieve himself, not to take out food, after reportedly drinking liquor. Then things went awry that the altercation was shown in television news. Sometimes I use the restroom of fast food establishments, making sure to buy a snack from them first to return the favor.

Frankly speaking, you would not see public restroom facilities along streets in the Philippines. The nearest to one are those found in terminals for buses, vans, and those iconic jeepneys. You must pay a small fee when using them. Emptying your bladder costs less than doing the same for your bowel. Your money supposedly goes to maintenance. However, these facilities vary in dedication to keeping their toilet bowls and tiles squeaky clean and odorless. In other words, some restrooms are less hygienic than others. Perhaps it is the cost and effort in maintenance that discourages the construction of more public restrooms.

I remember seeing male urinals, simple-looking and painted flashy pink, throughout Metro Manila. They are set up under a project of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to boost the national capital’s image. At least those urinals prevent some fellows from relieving themselves wherever they liked, causing an unbearable stinky odor on the side of a road or street. This habit encourages the spread of disease as well. The MMDA urinals limit the spillage of the human body’s by-product to certain spots. However, there are still maintenance issues. As years go by since their installment, these urinals have been dilapidated. No man would want to use, let alone clean, one with rusting surfaces and has not been doused with soapy water for months. In addition to that, women do not benefit from the urinal’s design. Gender equality becomes an issue as well.

Some men cannot be blamed for treating their surroundings as one massive urinal. There would be no problem if decent restrooms exist in plenty. If you cannot hold your bladder anymore and there is no accessible comfort room in sight, what would you do?

In the meantime, avoid drinking too much beverages when undertaking a journey. This would prevent a need to use the restroom sooner. Take advantage of comfort rooms within shopping malls. However, they are not available round-the-clock. If you find yourself in a small town, the closest to a comfort room you may find are the public toilets in municipal halls, wet markets, and around basketball courts.

Still, we need more enclosed restrooms for males and females alike – especially those who are traveling. These facilities should also stay open during the night. Other than a high degree of cleanliness, the restroom and its surroundings should be well-lit too for public safety reasons. I hope that local governments would allocate funds into maintenance so you can use the toilet for free. Keeping a restroom hygienic is not that expensive after all.

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