Let me begin with a story. A former blogger turned author of young adult novels went on a book tour in the United States to promote her first book. The moment she got back to the Philippines, she posted on Facebook that the first order of business was using a toilet with a bidet.
Right. Throughout her book tour, she had problems with the absence of a bidet. She wasn’t used to not having one. Toilets in most Filipino homes are fitted with bidets. We have four toilets in our house and all have bidets mounted on the wall on one side of the toilet (that’s just a stock photo above, by the way). On the other side is the toilet paper dispenser and, beside it, a trash bin.
Yes, we wash after bowel movement — and, for us women, after urinating too. Then, we wipe ourselves dry with toilet paper which we dispose of by throwing into the trash bin. Because we only use toilet paper for drying, we don’t consume as much toilet paper as people in countries where it is the default after bowel movement rather than washing.
(Only in Japan have we encountered instructions to dispose of toilet paper by flushing it in the toilet bowl. Apparently, they use ultra-biodegradable toilet paper that the plumbing can manage to smash into smithereens before sending to the sewer. The Japanese have the coolest bidets too that can blow hot air to dry your bottom after washing.)
Washing isn’t even a luxury for those who can afford to have bidets. In humbler homes without bidets, there is always a small pail of water beside the toilet. And in the pail is a dipper that we call “tabo.” A larger pail and “tabo” are also present when there is no bath shower.
Rich or poor, we wash after bowel movement. And we’d been doing that long, long, loooooooonnnggg before a statement made by a rectal surgeon in New York City that “bidets are way healthier than toilet paper” went viral on social media.
If you’re not a bidet user but you want to learn more about it, here are a few articles worth reading aside from the ones already linked to above:
Clearing up the top 10 misconceptions about bidets (which clears up clueless claims that a bidet is always as large as a toilet)
Will washing after bowel movement instead of merely wiping with toilet paper keep you safe from COVID-19? No, that’s for general hygiene. It’s your hands that you should wash to help prevent spread of COVID-19. Toilet paper is NOT an item that helps to combat the virus’ spread. So, don’t join the hoarde of mindless panic buyers who are stockpiling on toilet paper.