Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Bawal Umihi Dito

Last week I had the honor of speaking to a friend’s youth group here in Manila. 

He agreed to fetch me at the Pedro Gil LRT station on Taft Avenue (for those not familiar with Manila, LRT is the monorail).  I rode over to the station at the agreed upon time.

My friend wasn’t there yet, so I waited for him near the bottom of the station stairs.  The smell of urine was overpowering, and it didn’t take me long to figure out why.  Within minutes, two guys were relieving themselves on the wall a few meters behind me.  This was a relatively dark area, which afforded them a certain amount of privacy (as much as you can have on a busy sidewalk).  I was bored, so I decided to count the number of men who urinated in my vicinity.  There were seven within about 25 minutes.  This whole street-peeing thing is quite common, as evidenced by the numerous signs forbidding it.  But I’ve never quite gotten used to it. 

Before I come across as super-dignified, I want to explain something.  I spent plenty of time outdoors as a child.  We camped, fished, and played in places where there is no bathroom (or comfort room if you prefer).  In other words, I’ve “irrigated” my fair share of bushes and trees—sometimes just because I could (it’s a guy thing).

But it just seems the rules should be different for city life.  Doesn’t loving your neighbor mean respecting public property—and your neighbor’s nose?  Or is the problem a lack of public restrooms?  Is this foul sidewalk somehow symbolic of some of the problems in this country?  Am I just thinking like an ethnocentric American?  Maybe I was being way too philosophical about public urination.   

The rest of the night turned out to be a wonderful experience.  I had the honor of ministering to the before-mentioned youth group—we had a fabulous time.  

I smiled as I rode a jeepney back to my place.  Yes, a simple nighttime jeepney ride usually puts a smile on my face.  It somehow reminds me of just how wonderfully different the past six years of my life have been.  This city may have its foul corners (I suppose all cities do), but it is still my adoptive home.   

*For my non-Filipino readers, bawal umihi dito means “don’t urinate here.” 


  1. Maybe we need more public urinals, and less ‘bawal umihi dito’ signs. 🙂

    Public urinals do work, and ‘bawal umihi dito’ signs only make people want to do it even more. haha

  2. I sometimes feel that the total disregard for such “signages” is a reflection of the Pinoy’s lack of self esteem; the lack of respect or even real love for the country.

    You’ve probably noticed that a No Parking sign or Don’t throw garbage here, guarantees you a sight of cars parked under or around the former and a pile high of trash for the latter.

    I love this country, it’s the only one I’ve got 🙂

  3. agrees with Kim…

    and oh, how i want to ride a jeepney, bus and a calesa….haaay…

  4. lol
    Why don’t we try reverse psychology?
    How about puting “UMIHI KA DITO, SIGE NA PLEASE!” instead of “BAWAL UMIHI DITO”. Maybe it will be more effective. 😉

  5. hmmm. what an ingenious idea to kill time- counting how many will street pee. Lightbulb!

  6. Yeah kuya kevin, I always smell that everytime I’m going there. It’s so funny that you’ve noticed that too.


  7. There should be a change of mindset of the citizens and strong political will, to make a strict implementation. kasi, Filipinos become good citizens when they go to other places like Singapore but when they get back here, they still do the same things again.

  8. i can’t help but say a few lines, too.
    I always pass by that area like almost everyday. And it’s really true that you won’t be able to stomach the foul smell of that corner…ggrrr!!!kadiri talaga!
    gee…sometimes filipinos can really be thoughtless about the consequences of their actions.
    dont even care who suffers or not as long as they can get what they want or even need.
    And the disregard for a simple instruction such as that makes me sick.
    Bangon Pinoy!

  9. tsk!tsk!Filinos wake up your mind!

  10. Thanks for loving our country despite the imperfections.

    I love my country but more often than not, my fellow Filpino’s don’t 🙁

    Hope that the time will come that we’ll ALL do our part to take care of The Philippines.

  11. thats the pinoy thing!
    that made phillipines unique,
    in a bad negative way!
    and thats a shame!

  12. Yeah, I agree, we need more public toilets. “Irrigating the wall” is one of the Only-in-the-Philippines’ scenarios and is indeed embarassing to both foreigners and locals.

    It has to be the top guys to implement rules and order in the city. And more rest rooms! Get your taxes work! -Kev, Los Angeles

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