Cleaning, Cleaning, and more Cleaning

After arriving here on Wednesday we’ve spent the last 5 days cleaning for about 5 hours a day and the end is nowhere in sight.  I’m something of a clean freak to start with, but just getting things to a level of basic sanitation and orderliness is my current goal.

For the first few months of my stay in the Philippines I’ll be living out of my in-law’s house, which is a bit north of Manila in a surrounding town.  The house has been mostly derelict for about six months, with only an occasional visit to make sure it’s still standing.  My in-laws were both living out of other houses in other provinces until just recently.  So, the place is a disaster area.  Besides the accumulation of junk from decades of things being left here as a store-and-forget drop off spot, there’s dust, cobwebs and the buildup of grime to deal with.  So, there’s quite a bit of work to be done to get this place into a condition that’s suitable for living in.

I wish I could just throw money at the problem and make it go away, and for some parts I can, but most of it is just going to require hard work.  I have to haul stuff out of the house to the curb and do quite a bit of scrubbing, wiping, dusting, and brushing.

I didn’t realize just how much work it would be.  We spent 7 hours on just one room today.  It was the worst room, though.  It had been unoccupied the longest, so it was full of bags of junk, sometimes literally.

I suppose when you have more than one house, you can’t quite keep up with what all you’ve left where, so arranging it, sorting out what needs to be saved and what can go, and then doing basic cleaning can be a long, long process.

The goal that I keep in mind is that once it’s all done, I’ll be able to relax and enjoy life here.  Hopefully with another week of work we’ll have everything wrapped up and ready to go.

Cleaning Up After Yourself At Fast Food Establishments

The past two years saw a similar campaign for food courts, but they were not well-received.”Encouragement has been done a lot, in schools, in army camps, in polytechnics, in universities, everywhere. But once they go to a food court, they have the habit of just (leaving the trays behind after eating), which I think is not very good,” said Sim.

Six fast-food companies – McDonald’s, KFC, Mos Burger, Subway, Superdog, and Long John Silvers – will have stickers on their tables for the rest of this year to remind customers to clear the trays and make everyone’s dining experience a pleasant one.

“I guess if it’s in the CBD area, there’s a larger concentration of local yuppies, the expatriates who are more aware of the needs of the diner after them. In the heartlands, people are closer to home, and they are used to domestic help, so probably they are still in that mind frame that people will clean up after them,” said Chan.


This is something that surprised me when I moved to Singapore. In fast food restaurants, people simply got up and walked away, leaving their mess on the table. It seemed horribly rude.

I spent some time thinking about it and I realized that there’s really nothing that rude about it. If you’re in a restaurant, you’re there to be served. Part of the reason you eat out is that you want to enjoy a good meal and not have to clean up after yourself. That’s part of what you’re paying for.

So, why is it that in the US we always clean up the trays after ourselves? There are no signs. It’s just what my parents did and what others around me did, so I did it too. There’s no bonus for cleaning up after yourself. No one will call the police if you don’t do it.

I try to clean up behind myself most of the time, except in hawkers. Occasionally a cleaner comes by in a fast food restaurant and clears the table before I’ve gotten up to do it myself. It’s kind of nice, but at the same time I feel guilty.

I just hope that this lazy attitude towards cleaning up after myself doesn’t stick with me after I leave Singapore, or I could find someone spitting in my hamburger at a fast food restaurant I go to frequently.

One last thing I wanted to point out is that if this does go through here in Singapore, it may reduce the cost of meals in the long-run, but I doubt it. The chains will probably keep the prices high to increase their bottom line. On top of that, it will cause people to lose their jobs in a time when people should be thinking about how to create them, for the sake of the economy and the livelihood of families.