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Tabo Scandal: Filipino Worker in Australia “fired” over Toilet Habits

Posted on January 27, 2009  in Blog Experiences

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…

0 thoughts on “Tabo Scandal: Filipino Worker in Australia “fired” over Toilet Habits”

  1. ni hindi nga tabo ang gamit nung foreman, bote!

    here in France, we don’t have dippers,
    we have papier hygenique (toilet papers).
    kaya mahalaga rin na may eau de toilette (handspray)
    sa loob ng WC para pang-spray
    to mask the odeur de la merde
    (amoy ng… uhhhmm… mierda, in spanish)
    from the hand. hehe…

    kung nagtabo sila, di mangyayari yun.

  2. If we use tissue paper, the bacteria still stay so for me it is agreeable to use water to clean our gluteus maximus.

  3. iya spain madrid

    doctors recomend to wash with soap and water rather than toilet ..TO BRORUTOY here in spain we have here an automatic bacteriostat inside wc working every 15 mins to disinfect..NO IMPORTA si tu utilizar papier hygenique
    thing here is
    1.hygiene thing , well i guess filipino is very hygienic aside from they bathe every day no matter where they are even if they migrated 2 winter places .. nothing can stop them from taking a bathe everyday !
    2.RESPECT – i guess we all have to respect each other as long as we all abide the law or the rule LA PASANADA TIO !
    3.ENVY – I THINK THE FOREMAN IS ENVY TO THAT FILIPINO thats why it came to a point that He have to follow the filipino in the bathroom !
    4.DISCRIMINATION- Do you think if the one who did that “thing” is a german., do you think the foreman would react the same ? definitley NOT !
    SO IT IS VERY CLEARLY STATED THAT being Filipino is really a HARDTHING … leaving his own country for a living coz GOV didnt think of SERVING FILIPINOS BUT MINDING 2B a silent CORRUPT gov officials !
    Leaving Philippines is not that easy , GOV implimented rules to PAY 1st b4 leaving the counrty like POEA , TERMINAL FEE TAX when entering the airport!? ONLY IN THE Philippines !!!
    WHERE’s the owwa’s ROLE in here ? Is it right that Filipino Paid PHIL GOV for ASSISTANCE ? DID ANYBODY from OWWA assisted that Filipino Victim ???
    tsk ! tsk !
    IN FRANCE THERE’s so many discrimination even in resto’s you cannot enter if ur not from the race of whites…to mr.brotherutoy..I HOPE ur not one of those victims..

    1. @Iya spain madrid
      Thanks for the comments. I appreciate it.

      TERMINAL FEE TAX when entering the airport!? ONLY IN THE Philippines !!!

      Agree. Only in the Philippines.

  4. iya spain madrid

    OFW in toilet habit mess in Australia faces new problem | 02/24/2009 12:52 AM

    An overseas Filipino worker who got fired for his “un-Australian” toilet habits and later rehired is now planning to file a complaint against his employer.

    Amadeo “Buddy” Bernabe claims that he’s a victim of harassment because paint thinner was poured over his toilet paper or “baby wipes” causing him injury.

    Last January, Bernabe was fired because he used water instead of tissue paper to clean himself after bowel movements.

    After the union backed his case, he was asked to return to work. His company, Townsville Engineering Industries (TEI) in Australia, had promised to sponsor his family and guarantee him a job in the next four years.

    “Ang hiningi lang nila sa akin is, I will not use water anymore to wash my ass. Instead su-supply-an nila ako ng wet tissue or baby wipes,” Bernabe said.

    However, Bernabe, along with six other OFWs in the company, were fired a week later allegedly due to the company’s weakening business brought about by the global economic crisis.

    Days before their contracts were set to end, Bernabe claimed he was a victim of harassment in the workplace. He said the toilet wipes he kept in his toolbox were doused with paint thinner.

    “Yong dapat kung gawin, ginawa ko na. After that magpupunas na ako ng puwet ko, kumuha ako ng wipes. After pagkuha ko ng wipes deretsong punas siya, biglang nag-iinit. Parang nasusunog ‘yong balat ko sa puwet. ‘Nung naano ko, biglang umalingasaw yung amoy. It’s thinner. Paint thinner. Which is napaka-delikado sa balat natin,” Bernabe said.

    His claim was confirmed by a Townsville doctor. He immediately filed a police report.

    The Townsville police is set to investigate TEI to determine who was behind the incident. Bernabe is also set to file two other cases of assault against the company.

    Now, Bernabe is asking the Philippine government to assist him.

    “Walang nagtatanong. Walang tumatawag. Walang kumokontak, as in totally wala. Walang communication sa akin. Hihingi ko sana ng pansin kay [Executive] Secretary [Eduardo] Ermita na kung pwede eh pukpukin ‘yong dapat pukpukin na tao para umalalay sa akin,” he said. Report from Gigi Grande, ABS-CBN News, Townsville, Australia.

    as of 02/24/2009 12:52 AM

    from WEB


  5. @iya spain madrid
    ” In France, even in resto u cannot enter if ur not from the white race” . I’ve been to France but i have never experienced discrimination in restaurants. People were friendly and smiling. I was never got stared at because of my color.
    But it’s not fun though to be discrinated against because of your using a water in the “tabo”.