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.”
More from my site