A pig in a penby Gary Pekas

My generation is that generation that had the privilege of living at a time when our communities did not have outhouses, much less toilet bowls in our homes. When one had to defecate, one did it more or less in the open.

In Sagada, pigs were kept in pits lined with stone walls. Part of the pit was cobbled with stones, and relatively dry. Half of it was however laid bare and a little deeper, and it was there where the pig manure was gathered. All varieties of waste were put into this part of the pit, and allowed to compost along with the manure.

Yearly, the compost was taken out and used to fertilize the fields. It was a workable and efficient waste disposal system, and since waste at the time was mostly organic material, our communities did not have a problem of accumulating waste.

But I digress.

It was in these pigpens where everybody had to shit. The pigs liked human waste, and human shit was part of their daily diet.

At this time when pigs are fed commercial feeds and are no longer integral in the waste management system, since houses in the villages already have outhouses or even toilets right in the houses, old timers like me would say that pigs that ate human shit had that peculiar and favorable flavor no longer present in present-day pork. Other people may go “Yuk!” reading this, but I insist on its unmitigated truth.

Anyhow, there was no toilet paper back in those times. Even other types of paper were rare and precious. It was good if there were old newspapers or any other paper that may be used to wipe the anus after feeding the pig with your shit, but even if there was, the general attitude back then was to prefer other material to clean the anus with.

My favorite was the rocks used to line the pigpen. The pens were actually designed so that some of the rocks used were purposefully placed at an angle so that one may slide the crack of one’s buttocks over them, thereby getting rid of any residue of shit from one’s anus.

Now, in a household with many members, the number of rocks placed for this purpose may not be enough. Even in our “barbaric” times, we went “Yuk!” if we had to wipe our ass over a rock where somebody has already deposited residues of his shit. What does one do then? Well, a solution would be to donate one’s shit to the neighbor’s pig and make use of their wiping rock. Or one may pick up some smaller rocks and use it to wipe the ass with. If my favorite rock was already used, I would wait until the residue dries up before I do my own thing. The rocks were left like that until the next day. Dogs do their part by licking the rocks “clean” so that they may be used again.

The leaves of several plants were also often used for the purpose, but leaves had the habit of tearing, and if they do tear, you might end up wiping your anus with your bare hand.
In other communities, like in Kalinga, pigs were kept in a common fenced area, and everybody had to go inside the fence to rid oneself of his waste. Once inside, and you prepare to do your thing, every pig within smelling distance would crowd around you, wanting to get a bite of that delicacy that comes out of your anus. It often occurs that an impatient pig would prod you with its snout. The trick was to shit in a corner, so that you could see the pigs coming. One should carry a stick, so that you could drive impatient and insistent pigs away before you are done. The stick has an additional purpose. After defecating, it may be used to slide over the anus, thereby cleaning out the residue of shit. If the stick you happened to pick up to drive the pigs away was used for the same purpose earlier, you would know when you smell your hand and savor that aroma of shit that the pigs like so much.

Such was the way it was.

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