Of course… I get my period right before my big beach trip to Punta Bulata for Labor Day weekend.
I therefore go on the hunt for tampons.
Why is it so hard to find tampons in Manila? It’s like a mythical thing – elusive and apparently incredible, because most Filipinas have not even held a tampon in their lives. Kung ayaw mo magpaawat sa beach kahit na nagmemeron ka, kailangan mo ng tampon.
So punta ako sa isang malaking drugstore at went straight to the feminine hygiene section, where I found a manong restocking the sanitary pads on the shelves. So I went and asked him: “Manong, meron ba kayong tampons?”
Manong looked at me for a second, then looked at the shelves, “Wala po ata ma’am.. para saan po ba yun?”
S: Manong, tampons po…wala po ba? Yun Tampax?
Manong: Ahhh… (silence… with an air of emptiness)
Then may lumapit na store clerk na clearly beki. What gave it away? Kasi he had blue eyeshadow and dark eyeliner and blonde streaks, plus his hips swayed more than mine…
Manay: Ano po yun kailangan nyo ma’am?
S: Tampons, ku… ate.
Manay: (to Manong) Tampons daw! Ano ba!
Then Manay turns around and motions me to follow. My heart blossoms with hope. Manay abruptly turns back to me and looks me square in the fez…
Manay: Ma’am saan ba ginagamit yun?
S: Sa menstruation ko ate. (‘Nak ng tinapa..)