i really gotta go.


this was during my last trip to manila - i mean the one before this last one. i was sitting at my aunt's kitchen table, and i noticed a bottle of green tea behind me. i've always been a fan of green tea. i've had the green tea sobe, the arizona green tea, starbucks green tea, buzz cola (cola mixed w/ green tea), and actual green tea from many restaurants all over. naturally, i was curious. i lifted the bottle, and i inspected it. it was mostly asian writing, so i had no idea what it said. my aunt saw me inspecting it, and she spoke up.

"that's good for cleaning your system. it helps clean your liver and kidneys."
"would it be okay if i tried it?"
"sure."

i tried just a little bit, and it was sweet. a taste of honey, something or other. i drank it with my meal - most probably eggs, spam, rice, and fish - and before i knew it, the bottle was empty. i had downed the whole thing. i could've gone for another, but i thought one was enough. and anyway, we had to go. we were supposed to go to the metro manila film festival because k.c. concepcion would be performing there, and because i had written a really bad song about her, my aunt got this idea that i was really into her. so, we hopped in the van, and tony drove us to sofitel, an upscale hotel by the water.

about five minutes into the drive, it hit me. my stomach began to tighten, and i was in pain. i really had to go. i thought about what my aunt said: "it's good for cleaning your system." at the time, i thought she meant that it was generally good for cleaning your system, like how vitamins are good for you in the long run. i didn't know that "cleaning your system" meant literally cleaning out my system via massive diarrhea. i loosened by belt, and i held the seatbelt as far away from me as possible. i didn't know if i'd be able to make it. these were uncertain times.

"umm, are we close? i really, really have to go."
"yes, it's only a few more blocks," my aunt said.
"ok." and then i changed my mind. "is there somewhere we can pull over?"
"it's really bad?"
"yes. it's really bad."

my mom asked me if i was dudume (sp?), which usually translates as dirty, but in context, i realized it meant having to take a dump really badly. it was supposedly a more polite term than nagtatae, which translates the same way. the other thing was, i hated going to the bathroom at public places, especially in the philippines. in most public places, i'd be lucky if there was a toilet seat, nevermind toilet paper. from what i understood, most people were supposed to squat, but me, being the untrained foreigner, i'd just bring my own toilet paper, place it on the rim, and have at it.

i expressed my concerns. "is there a bathroom there?"
"yes, yes," my aunt reassured me, "it's a nice hotel. they have good facilities there. can you make it?"
i breathed in deeply. the pain was coming and going every two minutes or so. "yes, i think i can make it."

we finally pulled up to the main lobby of sofitel, and i looked at tony, my aunt's driver. he was smiling. my impending dump was hilarious. and since i was so relieved we had finally made it, i couldn't help but smile back. my mom handed me a small package of tisses, and i power-walked to the nearest restroom. my aunt also power-walked, trailing close behind me, and she called out directions. "left! straight ahead!" finally, i had found the glorious bathroom, and, let me tell you, what a wonderful sight it was.

the bathroom was well lit. it had those circular lights in the ceiling where the bulbs are actually in the ceiling. it made the whole place almost kind of yellow, like natural sun. there were flowers in vases on the marble counters and black soap dispensers in between mirrors. electric paper towel dispensers, and no hand-dryers. the bathroom stall doors were made of dark, heavy wood, and they stretched all the way down to the floor. and last, but certainly not least, fully-stocked toilet paper, and a beautiful, shiny porcelain seat. my heart almost melted.

you probably think i'm crazy, but i tried the tea again on this last trip. i waited until we were back at the hotel, home base, and i downed the bottle. nothing happened. turns out, it wasn't the tea that did the trick, after all.

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