July 17, 2008

Life in Asia - Part I : For Women Only

I have been impressed with Crunchy Chicken's take on one of her Eco-green challenges involving cloth wipes. It just bring smiles to my lips and brings back so many memories of me growing up. For this practice has been uncommon in Asia (Philippines). And it dumbfounded me that someone in the US have actually stumbled upon this ancient custom by women in the Far East. I particularly grew up a practitioner, if that is the politically correct verbiage for it, of this "feminine ritual". Life in a 3rd world country like Asia is hard, you make do of whatever you have or not have, which for the most part is the "not have" side of it. In this manner, growing up in Asia has made us more adaptable and attune to whatever available resources that's at hand which to this day and age is considered Eco-green living. To some it's barbaric, to others its' the fact of life!

Here's my expose' on the versions of "Eco-green living"...the Asian way...back then & now... And since this post is prompted by Crunchy Chicken's cloth wipes, it is befitting that I begin my exposition on that topic: The handy feminine "Punas" (wipes) :

Think about the boonies. What comes into mind ? Picture yourself living in it. The forest is your shopping mall. If you look at the picture above, that is the traditional house, Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut) & setting where I lived and grew up. Luxury doesn't exist in any form. It's like being Jane in Tarzan's world! And being a woman with feminine needs, it can get kinda rough (and gross). Think about when its that "time of the month". yuk! Feminine wipes, pads or even toilet papers are basically unknown & has not reached the mainstream market yet. So what's a woman to do? Our talented foremothers created one just for that purpose - and more - which was passed on to the next generation & beyond : Old white T-shirts were recycled into feminine wipes...

Dilemmas: What if you're a bloody Mess ? - Now even with cloth wipes being handy, it still gets tricky when you're a bloody mess- so, instead of using the wipe after each trip to the restroom, we resort to "kaw-kaw our papaws" -pronounced like cow(wash our delicate selves)- or moo-moo cows as how my daughter calls it - then we use the wipe to dry our "pretty flowers". Makes sense, don't it? Back then, the cloth wipes was one of the essentials you'll see stuffed in women's purses or bags. You won't catch one without it especially when they're away from their own turf. Ok this is starting to sound like a vagina monologue now, don't you think? :)

Care instructions: Depends on your preference. If you wash (cow-cow) yourself every trip to the restroom (which is highly hygienic) and using the cloth wipe to dry you up, then you can wash the cloth until you think it's necessary, especially when it doesn't pass the "smell" or "scent" test ! (",). Otherwise, hang to dry until next use. And if you must wash after every use, wash (or handwash) as normal but use delicate soap. Now, If you want to incorporate washing yourself every trip to the bathroom a habit , here is one handy tool that would surely do the trick: Peri Bottle! - I love mine! For any mother who has given birth in a hospital, you get them free. Make use of it. It makes for a wonderful feminine hygiene gadget.

... And more: In the absence of feminine pads, the same recycled shirt morphs into a menstrual pad. They're cut into the biggest square possible then folded several times into a rectangular shape, wide enough to fit onto an underwear then sewed. This are designated as "special" menstrual underwears. Like the cloth wipe, a spare one is always carried around for emergencies & attached with safety pins. Ouch!

Lunapads has actually captured the very essence of this idea - and they're very cute too!

Here is a funny excerpt from the past when Feminine pads finally permeated the market:

The 1st type of feminine pads that made to our store shelves was the ones with "belts". Strings are tied on both ends and are attached to a belt that goes around your waist. My Aunt decided to try this modern contraption - without the belt! She took me with her to the market. We walked since we live so close to the center of the city. She was busy telling me stories when all of a sudden, a man yelled for her attention. He was pointing at her bloodied pad on the ground with disgust & embarrassment! - Her pad fell out. - she must have been wearing really loose underwear. As for my Aunt & I, we both went crazy laughing! -Thank heavens for sticky glues on the feminine pads now!

So, say goodbye to toilet papers & more and save trees!- As you can see, I've already passed on this age-old tradition to my daughter. What about you? I am interested in finding out what age-old traditions or ritual you have growing up. From what country did you grow up? I would like to know how our different living conditions dictates the way each of our diverse cultures lives & adapts to survive.

dig this: Some motherly advice - If you must use toilet paper in public toilets, wet the paper slightly. This will soften the paper & saves you from those icky wacky paper scratches, not to say, those loose fibers that is also an irritant. If our "flowers" can sneeze, it probably already have everytime you use toilet paper!


  1. Ok hi there, this is really interesting and I'm quite amaze and proud that your into this blogging thing, he he he. It took me a while to post a commnet coz i don't know how to do it. Remember I'm not a technical person.. Take care... Ellen

  2. Hi Mother Ellen!

    Thanks for overcoming your technical inabilities for me :) You make me happy! and Yep, I'm into blogging alright! I miss you and hope you come by often to see my progress. I also joined a blogging contest just for fun. I hope I win! hehehe- that way you'll be more proud! o di ba?

  3. I find this information really interesting. I have never heard about Lunapads but I checked the website and it really is a good idea and...Lunapads are beautiful :)

  4. I think the Lunapads are really pretty! I have used cloth pads when I was growing up and it takes a lot of talent using it! :)

  5. Well good luck and I hope you win. As always if I have time don't worry I will check your site, to see interesting stories, ideas etc....

  6. Salamat Mother Ellen!

    Hope to see you here more often. Drop me a note whenever you come by so, I'll know you were here. As always, thank you thank you....Mwah!


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