On bath houses in Manila

Recently, I blogged about the Manila heat. I wrote that the heat can be so terrible that it’s enough to drive anyone mad. When I was in college, we studied about how the climate can affect one’s temperament. People who live in cold climates are more hardworking, while those who live in the tropics tend to be more relaxed and lazy. It makes sense, though I have no idea how it relates to what I’m going to say.

Last Saturday, I went to Sta. Mesa to celebrate my editor’s birthday. Vince, a DJ for Mellow 94.7, is also editor-in-chief for When In Manila, one of my writing gigs. It was a sort of meet-up for me because it was my first time to meet my co-writers and editors since I joined last month.

I was busy that day, as I was at SM-Southmall to watch Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles and Alabang Town Center to pick up copies of The Philippine Star. I was given a new section called Supreme Picks, where I highlight the events and activities readers should be involved in during the weekend. I then dropped by the office (my day job’s) to deposit the things I bought before going to Vince’s party. I met Nikko and we commuted to Megamall to buy beer. By 8PM, we were in Vince’s house, and my face was oily beyond repair.

I’m sure many people experience this problem. They leave the house fresh and dressed up, only to arrive at their destination looking like the best dressed in a Halloween party. I am a frequent victim of this, especially when I go to Makati or far-off places. I often arrive sweaty and oily. And for this, I have a proposal to senators.

Open a public bath house.

Just as there are restrooms in establishments and public urinals, I propose that the government should install public bath houses where commuters and Filipinos in general can wash up and recharge. In a tropical country such as ours, it only makes sense that water should be available in every major street corner, like the friendly neighborhood holdupper and a branch of Starbucks. In it, guests are allowed to shower. Towels can be rented, or for hygienic purposes, sold. Imagine how helpful this could be for the Filipino public. People would always be fresh. I imagine it would make people less grouchy, too, as prickly heat leads to prickly personalities. And most importantly, body odor will completely be eliminated.

Of course, it does have its potential problems. The male bath houses could become hotspots for cruising if left unattended. But attendants could cockblock any pair who are too cheap to go to a motel. Putting condoms in vending machines along with shower caps and soaps is out of the question, it will just enable horndogs and really, what am I talking about? As if pro-lifers would allow such a thing.

My other concern would be smell. I’m very particular with scent, especially in public restrooms. Not everyone is a meticulous bather, and it could result in a disgusting stench that will repel possible customers. I just pray to God that whoever is in charge of cleaning would take the job seriously.

Other than that, I think public bath houses in Metro Manila is a great idea. It’s reminiscent of the Roman baths, who elevated it to an art form and added pools, game rooms, gardens, libraries, and theaters. Ours don’t have to be as complex, and can be as simple as little granite boxes in minimalist tones and a number of stalls. They could even add an open area for adventurous bathers, which Sentosa has done in Singapore (I had a gay old time there if you know what I mean). Conservatives would argue that this would be the end of the times and bring up the Roman downfall as an example, but they had a jolly good time before their decline.

I think we deserve a jolly good time, too.


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