29 years
of
Community Service
MUNTING NAYON
News Magazine
Operated by couple Eddie Flores and Orquidia Valenzuela
News and Views of the
Filipino Community Worldwide
Is “kubetero” a dead Filipino word?



By Willie Jose
October 11, 2016

 
 


When I was a boy, my Nanay would always impress upon my young mind that to escape poverty I had to study hard or else I might end up being a “kubetero”.

One recent morning when I was having a coffee chat with Reggie in his home in Chicago, he’s the husband of my sister-in-law, I told him about that kubetero story and how my Mom would always prod me to focus on my studies with the accompanying  “or else” warning.

I immediately sensed Reggie could not understand what was I was talking about and before I could say anything, he asked, “ what’s a kubetero? “

Since both of us were in front of our laptop computers, my first reaction was to search for the word kubetero in the Internet but I couldn’t find one. I thought that maybe the best way was to surf any entry on the word kubeta (Tagalog term for toilet) at Google so I could easily explain to him the meaning of the word Kubetero.

Well, I found nothing so I thought it would be a good idea to type the “ waste management”, maybe somewhere from that article, I might either come across the word kubetero or any explanation about that word.

Finally, I gave up searching the Internet; I simply told Reggie why being a kubetero was the lowliest kind of job back home in the 50s.

I said “ since most of the people in Manila at that time didn’t have septic tanks, so the way to “go” was with the use of kubeta, a flat wood with a hole cut out in the middle of it that served as a toilet bowl—and under it was a wooden pail.

And after a few days, the kubetero would collect and carry these pails with the use of a piece of wood placed on his shoulder, balancing the two pails at both ends of wood.

Then, he would load down and store them in a warehouse near a public toilet. A few days later, a big truck would collect all these wooden pails.

In this public toilet, there were some concrete toilet bowls with water flushes and a septic tank; it had two sections—for men and women— without any dividers separating these toilet bowls; therefore, the people using these public washroom didn’t have any privacy at all.

Being a kubetero was a degrading job because when people would see this man carrying his load, they would keep a comfortable distance away from him to avoid the bad smell that emanated from these pails.

 I’m not sure how many residents in Manila had used the septic tank for waste management in the late 50s in Manila; however, a number of our neighbors in Sampaloc district had wooden kubeta in their homes.

While in Chicago, I went to the bookstore and while I was browsing some books, I chanced upon a Spanish-English dictionary and I looked up the word cubeta and found its meaning as “ bucket, pail, keg. “ So definitely that’s where we Pinoys got the word Kubetero, its root word comes from Spanish word cubeta.

Well, my wife, Lilia whose age is almost the same as mine, when asked what a kubetero is, she was able to explain it; this is understandable because she’s a baby boomer like me -- and this baby boomers’ generation has seen how our kubeta evolved as part of the country’s waste management system.

However, Reggie and his wife, Cora don’t have any slightest idea what a kubetero is because they are only in their early 50s and Reggie himself grew up in the province.

“ In Quezon province where I grew up, we just dug up a hole in the ground and that was it”, he said.

While on the way home after my bookstore’s visit, I was still discussing the kubetero topic with my sister-in-law, when my wife cut me off, saying, “ you stop discussing that. It’s kadiri to death”.

Now, I know why this word kubetero is a dead word because in the first place this kind of job is non-existent-- and maybe most of our kababayans would find it weird even to discuss it.

But one thing is certain, whether we like it or not, the word kubetero is a part and parcel of our culture.





    Add a Comment


    Eddie Villarta
    Ottawa ON Canada
    Wed 12th October 2016

    I m eating lunch when I started reading your article. Bad timing eh But the article is very informative. Thanks for sharing.

    MoreFilipino journalists’ Grand Reunion in US—why not?
    By Willie Jose Emailed for posting by Jojo Taduran

    A few days ago, I lunched with   two veteran journalists Tony Sikat, former editor-in-chief of the Philippine Star’s...
    MoreNick Joaquin, a friend, and my compadre
    Willie Jose

    (Before the end of the Nick Joaquin centennial year this month, I’d like to re-publish my article about our National...
    MoreWhere are the Pinoy food stalls in big shopping centers?
    Willie Jose

    In going around some big malls in Toronto, I’ve not seen a single Filipino food stall in these shopping centers....
    MoreSeeing a “Bloody” Moon is a chance of a lifetime
    Willie Jose

    Watching the rising of a” Bloody “Moon on a clear sky last Oct. 5 is an experience of a lifetime....
     
    MoreASCON meets new Cumberland Mayor
    Richard J Ford

    The Mayor of Cumberland Council, Greg Cummings met with the Officers and members of the Auburn Small Community Organisation Network Inc (ASCON) on the 15th of February 2018 to discuss various community concerns. Led by the current Chairperson Dr Cen Amores, the multicultural group presented ASCON’s many projects and activities for the benefit of the multicultural communities of Cumberland LGA....
    MoreCanadian Medical Mission to T’boli Tribes Successful Despite Mishaps and Martial Law Fears
    Edwin Cordero Mercurio

    Giving the gift of Love on Valentines Day with flowers and sending cards to our loved ones is one thing we always do every February 14.  However, bringing the gift of Love and Selfless Service to those in need in far flung communities of Mindanao is another. More so when the day falls on Ash Wednesday.
    More
     
    MoreAtalla inducts AGAPI officers, new members
    Evelyn A. Opilas

    Edmund Atalla, MP for Mt Druitt, swore in officers of AGAPI led by Dorothy del Villar and their new members...
    MoreSamahang Pilipino sa Holland (SPH) launches it’s first smashing Valentines Party 2018 !!!!
    Angel Axinto

    The day of the heart celebration is always the first party of the year.
     
    This year,...
    More‘No speak English’ not for Pinoys
    Evelyn A. Opilas

     “Evie, you speak Tagalog, right? Can you please speak with my client?” asked a colleague at one of the job...
    MoreREUNION OF LONG TIME FRIENDS
    Romeo Ayson Zetazate

    ...
    MoreCanada to participate again at the SM NBTC Championships in the Philippines
    Emar Sy

    Crossover Sports Canada once again secured a slot for Canada to participate at the 2018 SM NBTC National Championships on...
    MoreSTICHTING FDCD’s 16TH YEAR VALENTINE’s PARTY CELEBRATION
    Fe Heinen

    Dordrecht-February 10: The 16th wonderful year of the Stichting Filipino-Dutch Community Drechtsteden (FDCD) Valentine’s party was held last Saturday, February...
     
    More`CON AMOR’ FOUNDATION B0ARD MEMBERS VISIT PROJECTS IN PHILIPPINES
    By: Orquidia. Valenzuela,  as reported by Myrla Danao

    Businessman Jaap van Dijke, chairman and two board members, Myrla Danao and Dr. John Deen of Con Amor foundation in...
    MoreTHE CHILDREN IN DON MANUEL GK VILLAGE
    Orquidia Valenzuela Flores

    Sixty-three children from age three to six years, in the very poor community of Don Manuel village in Barangay...
    MoreHistory of the Filipino Community in the Netherlands
    Orquidia Flores-Valenzuela

    Every story has a beginning and our story begins when a Cavitena accompanied her aunt to sail to another continent....
    MoreArt Creations
    Vicente Collado Jr.

    Welcome!

    Many believe formal training is a prerequisite to quality in painting. Not a few will agree with me one can...
     
    Disclaimer

    Contents posted in this site, muntingnayon.com, are the sole responsibility of the writers and do not reflect the editorial position of or the writers' affiliation with this website, the website owner, the webmaster and Munting Nayon News Magazine.

    This site, muntingnayon.com, the website owner, the webmaster and Munting Nayon News Magazine do not knowingly publish false information and may not be held liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential or punitive damages arising for any reason whatsoever from this website or from any web link used in this site.