July 25, 2008

Life in Asia Part II - Conserving H2O with Tabo and Balde

So what the heck is Tabo and Balde? - sounds really foreign! Is that a forbidden act or sumthin!? - well, it is foreign because it is Tagalog which roughly means in English, Tabo - "water scooper" and Balde - "water bucket" . It is not Tabooooo or forbidden. Actually, their main functions are very viable in conserving precious H2O if incorporated in your daily chores. Mind ya, when we had those water restrictions down here south, the Tabo & Balde options were award-winners in drought stricken lands!

My Tabo and Balde in Action!

Now as I've already mention in Part I, life in 3rd world Asia is not about luxury rather that of survival. Adapting to whatever available resources that's at hand and learning how to conserve it. As an example of humble living, bathrooms in Asia doesn't have the luxury of showers - if you're lucky you'll find faucets inside. Otherwise, you have to fetch the water with a water bucket, from somewhere else. Fill a big barrell situated in the bathroom for your consumption, then YOU can shower. For Americans who are used to all the amenities available to them, it is a dilemma or even utterly shocking entering a "bare" bathroom! Here's a classic example told to me by an American friend:
I went to thailand and stayed with a friend. It was time for me to take a shower so I went to the bathroom. The bathroom was situated apart from the main house. It was square and the walls were about 4ft high. There was a water bucket and a water scooper below the faucet and where to draw water, you have to pump the faucet. I didn't know what to do. I saw a big basin, filled it up with water, sat in and took a "bath". After a while, my friend checked on me and there he was chuckling and bursting into laughter. It was totally embarrassing. Needless to say, he taught me the lesson on "how to take a shower in Asia 101".

I conserve about 20 gallons of water each time my daughter wants to take a bath and about 5 gallons if she has to shower. The water bucket holds 10 quarts of water which is rougly 2 gallons. I use that to wash, shampoo her up, then refill it and use that same amount to fill the tub so she can play in the tub to her hearts content without wasting so much water in the process and safer for her. She's already 4 years old but I'm still paranoid about her drowning in the tub with so much water! In a gist, I'm conserving water and saving money on my water bills.

Here's what you can do: buy a water bucket and a water scoop ( i use a salad bowl - be creative. They're kinda hard to find but if you have an Asian market nearby, you're in luck!) and start experimenting. At the end of the month, see how much water you've saved and $$$ on your H2O bill. Don't forget to incorporate proper handling of water too, everytime you turn on that faucet.

Happy Tabo-Tabo showering!

Stay Tuned : Batya and Palangana - more on conserving H2O

Further Reading:
Part I - For women only

Don't be an inert energy : Be the first to comment or react to this post. OR burst!


  1. Wow. I love your dedication to conservation and eco friendly alternatives. Americans are pretty wasteful, aren't they (we)? I've made little changes in order to be healthier and conservative, but I have a long way to go. Thanks for stopping by my monoamniotic blog. I know that it can be dry and uninteresting reading unless you have pregnant with them. It was very difficult when I was pregnant with my twins because everyone "thought" they knew what I was going through but in actuality had absolutely NO clue! :)

  2. Hey, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, with this economy we have, i think conservation is the key.And you're also right about that people "thinking" they know! Aren't a lot of people a-know-alls! haha! I bet ectopic pregnancy pales in comparison...well, please feel free to come by anytime.Love having you here. Thank you XOX!

  3. I'm doing great!! =) Meaningful post. Sometimes we take things for granted. Not all Asian countries are like that though. Only certain rural areas I suppose, like those living in the jungles. They don't have proper sanitation facilities. They have to dig holes because there are no toilet bowls. My friend told me that her sister didn't have access to a proper toilet when she was on a trip in some rural area and she couldn't dispose her sanitary napkin, so she just washed it clean and threw it somewhere. Eeew.. Haha..

  4. Great post! We had such a drought last summer that we were using a bucket in the shower to catch the water that you run until the water gets hot...so we didn't waste all the cold water that came out. We would then use it to put in the back of the toilet for flushing (flushing your toilet uses like 5 gallons of water!) or we would use it to wash our car off with teh water and a micro fiber towel..also water our favorite plants. i washed my dishes in a tub as well so that I could use that water for plants. I bet my landlord loved it because she pays the water bill!

    In response to your comment on my blog about the children looking filipino..probably many or most of them were. There are a lot of mixes here with Hawaiian..hardly any with a lot of Hawaiian anymore. But there are many many Filipino people here in Hawaii.

  5. Hi Cheraine! Thanks for showing me some Luv.Unfortunately,I have no way of returning the luv back to ur blog or email coz u didn't leave any,so,I'll just response to u here: Yeah rural life is bad! but people do adapt.I have lived in the big city for 6 yrs and once lived in an OLD apartment-meaning no bathroom amenities.The Tabo & balde were my bestfriend at that time!Was I so glad when I finally moved to a newly-built studio!:)-well, keep checking back on me! Thanks!!!

  6. I remember we had a well when I was little and we always had tabo and balde or palanggana when taking a bath. Oh, those were the days...

    Your American friend had a funny experience in Thailand. Westerners would never have any idea how we use tabo and balde when taking a bath.

    Btw, Maricris, thank you so much for the add. I've just added you, too.

  7. Hi Maricris,
    I like this entry cause the Filipino traditional way of taking a bath by using tabo and balde actually is more modern in this time or age of energy/environmental consciousness.
    Here in Denmark many still prefer to wash their dishes using balde and putting it in a rack to dry naturally.
    I always dream of owning a dishwasher because I hate washing dishes but when environment awareness hit me I'm glad I don't own any.
    My very first entry was about tips conserving our environment you can check it out at http://www.filipinamom.com/

    Thanks hope you don't mind me adding you to my blogroll coz I found your blog interesting to read.

  8. Thank you so much for introducing me to this! The impact is awesome.


We're not mind readers. We appreciate our lurkers but we also LOVE comments! If you've got something in mind, please give us a holler or just SHARE us in your favorite Social Media channels - we'll take that too! :-)