A Filipino worker in Australia was allegedly fired because of his “tabo habits”. When I say “tabo habits” it’s the usual Filipino way of using the tabo (or dipper in english) filled with water to clean up the mess after doing the deed in the toilet. The Australian employers argued that it was unhygienic (and un-Australian too :) ), but the Pinoy worker defended that its not unhygienic and it is part of his culture.

Townsville Bulletin reports that Amador Bernabe, a Filipino machine operator at Townsville Engineering Industries (TEI) in Bohle Australia, was fired over his habit of using water instead the usual toilet paper. Quoting Townsville Bulletin report

I went to go to the toilet and I took a bottle of water when my foreman saw me and he said `you can’t bring the water in there’,” Mr Bernabe said.
“I asked why and he said it wasn’t good but I said it’s our way and he followed me into the toilet.
“I said it’s my personal hygiene. I didn’t break any law, I didn’t break any rules of the company, why can’t I do this, and he said he would report me to the manager.
“The next morning when I came in I went to punch my time card and he told me the manager wanted to talk to me in his office.
“He asked me what had happened and I explained to him and he said if I didn’t follow the Australian way I would be immediately terminated and I said `sir, then you better terminate me’.”

This incident was picked up by local media and was a buzz during the weekend. It was condemned by both union workers and officials as well as some local politicians.

Another report from the Townsville Bulletin aired the side of the Australian employer. The TEI manager said that Bernabe was not sacked; that the issue here is recurring unhealthy toilet habits and that he (Bernabe) left his workplace without notice. He also said that this is an ongoing issue (meaning not resolved yet).

I want to be fair in writing this article. But I’m a little bit biased since I’ve personally heard of similar racial discrimination from there Down Under. But one thing I know about us Pinoys (or most of us in general):

  • Whenever we are in another country we try to follow their culture;
  • We respect their culture;
  • We are humble to understand that we are visitors in their country;
  • And we try our best to fit in (out of our “pakikisama” mentality I guess).

Because of these points, I personally believe that Mr. Bernabe is that not that unsanitary in his toilet habits (as his boss claims). And I expect that his employers respect his culture the way we respect their culture.

I  hope this issue will be settled soon…

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