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September 12, 2023

What is a Tabo?

A tabo is a dipper that Filipinos use to get water from the timba (pail of water) to wash their hands, feet, or genitalia. This tool is also used as a substitute for toilet paper in places that do not have modern plumbing and sanitation systems. For example, it is a regular fixture in hostels and mountain lodges, or even in the bathrooms of private homes. For this reason, it is a must for any foreign traveler to know how to use a tabo before visiting the Philippines.

Tabo is sometimes translated as a dipper, but it's really much more than that. It's an integral part of Filipino culture, and even those living overseas will bring one with them or ask their relatives to send them over.

In the traditional house, it's placed beside a terracotta water jar, or palayok, near the front door so guests can wash their feet and hands before entering. This is a sign of respect for the host's home and family.

Using a tabo to clean the butthole after pooping is hygienic and more comfortable than using toilet paper. Plus, it helps prevent hemorrhoids.

To use a tabo, simply dip it into the timba's water just enough for you. Then, just like washing your hands or feet, you pour the water on whatever part of your body you need to wash. It might take some practice to master this skill, but it will be worth it.