Do Filipinos Use Toilet Paper?

Most Filipinos do use toilet paper. Especially the more “modern” ones who live in cities and are middle-class, don’t remember it any other way and can afford to buy it. However, there are still a lot of Filipinos who either can’t afford toilet paper or simply don’t want to use it.

Some people still use tabo because it’s cheaper or because they’re used to doing it that way since their parents did it. It depends on the person.

Whatever not all Filipinos use toilet paper. It’s a common mistake for foreigners to assume that every Filipino uses it, but they don’t. In fact, many older generations never even used anything at all!

In the provinces, a lot of middle-aged folks still use tabo instead of toilet paper. The thing is that they’re so used to doing it this way since their parents did it and didn’t have access to Toilet Paper when they were young.

It’s just what they know, and it works for them, so why change?

These days, Toilet Paper is becoming more popular as people become more exposed to urban life and the idea that toilet paper can be a regular part of daily hygiene. In fact, there are now specialized stores that only sell Toilet Paper!

Some older generations may call it “American” or “Western,” but that’s not really true. TP has been available in the Philippines for over 20 years now, and it’s just become more prevalent in recent years because many people can afford it.

Why do Filipinos use tabo instead of toilet paper?


Tabo is made from a plant called agoho (uh-GOH-hoe), which grows in the mountains. Agoho leaves are cut, washed, and sun-dried. These leaves will be used to make tabo which we use to wipe after doing our business on the toilet bowl.

Filipinos use tabo instead of tissue paper because tissue paper is made from trees, and when we use it to wipe after doing our business, the trees will be cut down. Because of this reason, Filipinos are very environmentally friendly in disposing of used tabo or agoho leaves.

Tabo or agoho leaves can decompose within 24 hours, unlike tissue papers that will take more than a month and years to decompose.

Slice an agoho or tabo leaf lengthwise. Peel the skin of the agoho or tabo leaves using your fingers and thumbnails, then fold it in half and roll like you would with toilet paper.

How do you use tabo instead of toilet paper?

Tabo is made out of dried agoho leaves, more commonly known as “pawid” or “bayog” in some parts of the Philippines. They actually come in different sizes with a length of about 7 inches.

You can usually find pawid in markets, groceries, and even convenience stores. The leaves are dried to make it easier for the vendors to store them. They’re cut into smaller pieces before they’re put on display.

People use tabo by tearing off a piece of the leaf that will be used just one time because it’s already been exposed to the air and moisture.

The most common way of using tabo is folding the tabo leaf in half to have a thinner middle part. Then hold both sides of the folded tabo between your thumb and index finger to tear off the top part exposing the softer inner surface. After getting it ready, sit on the toilet and start wiping.

The trick is to wipe your bottom with a back and forth motion that will allow for better cleaning and more thorough rubbing of the soft inner surface.

It’s also best to use a single piece of tabo leaf for just one time because after tearing off fragments from the folded end, it will get thinner, and you’re likely to see its fibers. That’s the reason why it’s best to use a fresh tabo leaf instead because when it gets wet from wiping, it actually loses some of its strength and can break apart.

If, for some reason, you need to use another piece of tabo leaf (like a fresh one), make sure to fold it first before wiping.

When was tabo invented?

Tabo was invented by the ancient Filipinos during pre-colonial times. They used agoho, or tabo leaves to wipe after doing their business on the toilet bowl.

Do they have toilet paper in the Philippines?

Do they have toilet paper in the Philippines?

Yes, they have toilet paper in the Philippines. In fact, it’s a common mistake to assume that every Filipino uses toilet paper because nowadays, it has become a modern practice to use tissue paper while going to the bathroom.

In places like Metro Manila or other urbanized cities with more exposure and access to imported goods, many Filipinos prefer to use toilet paper rather than the traditional tabo.

But in places with a shortage of goods, primarily due to scarcity or inaccessibility, people usually resort to using tabo instead of tissue paper because it’s cheaper.

What is that brown stuff on Filipino toilet seats?

The brown thing you see on the toilet seat is called a pugo. Pugo is made from processed rice and can be bought in groceries or supermarkets.

Pugo serves as a cover for the commode to avoid direct contact of one’s skin with the commode, which is usually icky and dirty. Even if toilets in the Philippines are generally clean, it’s still advisable to use pugo because many people are unaware of the area they need to sit on when doing their business.

The brown color is derived from caramelized sugar that gives off that yummy smell most Filipinos love!

Why are toilet papers uncommon in the Philippines?

Toilet paper is uncommon in the Philippines because it’s more economical and convenient to use the traditional tabo. Toilet paper is imported from other countries, while tabo can be locally made out of leaves.

Tabo comes from trees and plants like the agoho or even banana leaves, also abundant in the Philippines.

Tabo leaves are also biodegradable, which means that it decomposes easily compared to tissue paper, thus helping save our environment from pollution caused by waste.

What do Filipinos use instead of toilet paper?

Filipinos have used the tabo or the traditional way of cleaning up after defecation for centuries now.

Tabo or agoho leaves are the most common Filipino substitute for tissue paper. These leaves have been used to wipe oneself after doing number two in the toilet bowl.

As mentioned, Filipinos prefer the traditional way of cleaning up after defecation because it is more economical.

Tabo is also available and can be bought in groceries and supermarkets and made from processed rice, corn cobs, coconut shells, and even banana leaves.  

What nationality does not use toilet paper?

Some nationalities accustomed to the traditional way of cleaning up after defecation do not use toilet paper.

Having said that, Korean people are one of them. Koreans actually prefer to use water instead of tissue paper because it’s more convenient for them.

Though many find this odd at first, other countries have grown accustomed to using water to clean up after defecation.

This is evident in third-world countries with no toilet paper factories, only the traditional cleaning method.

Originally posted on November 3, 2021 @ 6:20 pm

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As a lifelong traveler and founder of, I, Alex Deidda, have always been driven by my passion for exploring new places and cultures.

Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to live in various countries, each offering unique perspectives and experiences.

My love for traveling led me to create, a website and blog dedicated to helping people plan their trips.

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