Belt ahoy! Singing and the Filipinos


Long before Charice mesmerized Oprah Winfrey, long before Arnel Pineda finally ended Journey’s decade-long search for a vocalist and long before Lea Salonga became the toast of London’s West End, Filipinos have been battling it out with the microphones. Singing is just so part of the Filipino culture as eating rice, true.


kartong larawan ng isang lalaking kumakanta sa videoke

Singing over a few bottles of beer with friends is believed capable of  driving away the Filipinos problems/

The row of videoke houses in any commercial hub in the country is a dead give-away to this peculiar Filipino inclination and tradition, haha. So are the pondahans (one-stop shop and soda corner store) with a small battered tv set and an overly-used mic in the most remote of villages. And of course, tens of thousand households own videoke sets or Magic Sing units, mind…


With us, there is singing here and there is singing there. There is singing at day time and certainly, there is more singing at night. Come hell or high water, we, Filipinos,  sing our way through and out of – troubles, predicaments and for sure, glories – unexpected or long-expected. We sing and belt out our woes and our joys, our trepidation and unspoken feelings and, our failures and our victories. Nah, don’t even bother to ask why… We are just so into it. 😉


With the recent spate of rains, three weeks of  downpour that peaked on August 7, 2012,  the whole metropolis  (Metro Manila) was submerged in water  – waist-deep, chest-deep and roof-deep, depending on the structure’s elevation. After the headcount and the treatment of the wounded, after securing dry places, clothes and spaces to move around and, after making sure people have something to eat – folks in the community immediately set up videoke sets in the midst of the chaos, no kidding. The singing begins, haha. 🙂


larawan ng binahang Metro Manila noong ika-7 ng Agosto, 2012

Habagat or a monsoon submerged the metropolis in floodwater on August 7, 2012/


Our folks are like that, more or less. The cleaning and the inventory of the appliances and stuffs could likely wait. The replacement of losses, the sorting and rearranging of physical space and life anew could likewise wait, the expression of wet feelings and suspended emotions could not. Would not. Why not? Typhoons of varying strengths and earthquakes of different degrees have shaken us time and again, year in and year out, bad year and good year. So, why not sit and belt things out for a while?


larawan ng isang Magic Sing set

Magic Sing console is actually a portable karaoke set originally produced in Korea/

Songs of love, confusion, misery and undying hope quickly and without ado float in the air. Minds are instantly calmed and bleeding hearts are almost miraculously healed – until the problem of procuring rice for the next meal pops up. Others may frown at this poker-faced attitude, this fatalism and seeming unconcern for the future of the Filipinos. But what the hey, music apparently has a way of making things a bit more bearable, miseries a little less so and the task of beginning again, surmountable and less daunting.


I suppose that for us, unkind situations are often and usually, dealt with through barking, haha, copious amount of noise and certainly, melodies. And sometimes, when we’re lucky, we do manage to strike some harmony… ^^


I am under the impression that many Filipinos believe that singing is covered by the Constitution under the Bill of Rights provision on the freedom of expression – regardless of the singer’s tune and tempo and the sound volume, lol. 😉  Videoke galore in the neighborhood? That is something I have lived with – albeit my stiff self – sung with and enjoyed listening to, through the years…


Here is my list of songs commonly sung in the karaoke and videoke houses in the Philippines. Around here, videoke singing is carried on with much aplomb, hurting the ears of the unfamiliar and the unsuspecting. But what to do, eh? 😉


By the way, the list follows no particular order but the first two are sure top notch, haha. Among us, it is the adult males who commonly engage in videoke singing, after a hard day’s work. The often loud and rowdy activity is meant for relaxation and yes, all for the love of rock ballads – noisy, passionate and soulful. In the villages, songs of  Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow are still very much patronized…
larawan ng mga kalalakihang nagbi-videoke

It is said that if a person gets in the way of a Filipino and his microphone, he is inviting trouble/


For the really young ones, of course,  there is Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and the Filipina belter, Sarah Geronimo. With the people in their  30s, it is songs by Alanis Morisette, the Cranberries and the local bands of the 90s, Eraserheads and Yano. Recently, Adele’s hits are rather popular.

larawan ng isang paskil na nag-aanunsyo ng pangalan ng kainan at kantahan

Roadside eateries and hole-in-the- wall restaurants in the Phils often offer videoke singing/


For the people in their 40s, there are lots of songs by Jewel, some Mariah Carey and a few Debbie Gibson hits, ahaha. Throw in also a good number of  Fra Lippo Lippi, Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode songs. For those in their 50s, Killing Me Softly is a staple song in videoke sessions, haha, and several Broadway hits.


For the older ones, 60s and above, their song list has plenty of kundimans (local ballads), Frank Sinatra, The Platters and Nat King Cole, yes.


I suppose, with the exception of Lea Salonga who had formal voice lessons and recitals early on in her career, most of our singers rose to national (and international) stardom via community amateur singing contests during town fiesta celebrations. Around here, amateur singing is a famous form of socialization and well-participated in, by the young and the old – always.


larawan ng mang-aawit na si Lea salonga

Lea was given the Olivier and the Tony awards for her performance in the musical, Miss Saigon. She also sang in the soundtrack of Disney’s Aladdin and Mulan/


With the advent of talent searches and reality shows in the recent years, individual and group singing have been given more boosts. In fact, I wonder if sales of microphones in the country have ever experienced a plunge. Maybe not…  Singing may as well be a dose of medicine for the Pinoy’s ills, an escape  from the everyday tedium and poverty for most and, a chance to show the world that the Filipinos can – appreciate good music, sing to our heart’s content and belt it out, necessary or no. 😉


Taking the time to thank these lovely people

larawan ng dalawang isip na nagkikilanlanan

It’s fun to be acquainted with fellow writers who also try to make sense of it all/

Hello, folks! Let me pause to thank these people who took the time to come by my About page to shake the hand of this blogger. I mean, they didn’t just swing by, they leaped to the page to find out the possible source of the irritating rants and the longish musings, haha.


And, surprise, surprise, they clicked the like button, yahoo! 😉  I cannot thank them enough for the curiosity, for the wonderful gesture and for the appreciation. Allow me at least a chance to mention and to say this blogger here is dang grateful. You, folks, are splendid. ^_^


Ladyfi – an English professional photographer based in Sweden who has an uncanny eye for beauty and love. Am amazed at how she gets those angles and the way she makes use of the light. Larger than life and cheerful as could be,  is how I would describe her photos. She appears to me to be one of those who really enjoy the opportunity to share in the blog sphere.

Karen – a Filipina nurse by profession. She rants – oh,  she does. She sounds rebellious and does not give too much care if others do not think the same. I wish she would write more often and make use of the materials she encounters in her work setting and community.

Sorrygnat – an American teacher in her 70s, a published writer and an exceptional conversationalist. She has been around, the world citizen tag she has given herself fits her to a tee. Here is somebody who has known hurts, pains and displacements and yet can talk about them lightly, glibly and happily. Her writings sound like you would want to be in her kitchen to tell her your problems while sipping some warm soup she herself has made. It will be a lively session, for sure.
larawan ng isang babaeng nagsasabi sa isang lalaking mag-tsaa na lang kesa mag-blog

Is blogging silly? Does it make sense? /

Pointless Paranoia – a Filipino guy in his early 20s. I can imagine him to be the geeky, sensitive and shy type, haha. He writes poems and poetry with feel and flourish both in English and Tagalog. I often wonder how somebody that young could write that way, with deep emotion when real-life experiences are still few and raw.

Personal Concerns – an Indian in grad school at the University of Delhi. At least, that is his pretext and preoccupation, haha. In real life, I suppose he is really a philosopher and a poet. He writes beautifully about the old and the new, the simple and the complex and the olden times and the modern world. He is a linguist, a rare breed. He is an academic guy, a very articulate writer and dang, he sounds thoughtful.  He sounds like a thinking, thoughtful guy.

Haribon – An structural engineer by profession, this Filipino blogger has multiple interests other than his day job. Based in Saudi Arabia and Qatar where his projects are, this family man makes time for his true love – organic farming. He dabbles with a number of things – stock market, blogging and community-based planning. He sounds like a well-meaning man with a goal. Or, several…

fivereflections – he is my granddad. And so, a thousand others’, too. His three- line haikus often smite the heart and one would like to read them over and over to be able to picture and to hold the imagery the blogger creates with such ease. His poetry is the seasoned kind, truly. Each of his posts garner an average of two hundred likes. The others and myself, we have a good reason for frequenting his place, want some of his writings to rub off on us, haha.

Alla Francois – a Filipina in her early 20s, too. She works in a hospital. Sounds to me like she is an unconventional person and a bit of a rebel, too. She has criticized me a few times for liking her posts, which to her are pretty much unlikable. I mean, am not just being kind or nice. Far from it.

Fork in My Eye – an American writer, very good at it, but still struggling, according to her. She is a professed lesbian and a happily committed one, too.  There is humor and fierceness aplenty to her writing that makes a reader come back for  second and third helpings.

themathteacheralsoreads –  apparently, this Filipino Statistics and Calculus teacher in his early 20s is bent on debunking the stereotype. Reading his entries, one would hardly mistake him for the hard sciences guy that he is. His prose and poetry both speak from the heart and convey a lot. One of his poems, is worth the mention  – Paanong Di Kita Maalaala? (How Can I Not Remember You?)

petriesan – he is an American and an accountant by profession. But I can imagine him to be a philosopher in disguise. He tackles issues and philosophy in his site and is rather honest with his left of center views. He takes time to break down the topics and explains his arguments well. Did I say that he talks clearly and candid?

bestbathroombooks – an American independent publisher and humorist in his 5os who has written for internationally circulated magazines.  He denies being a real writer, takes more pride in having raised his two children who both graduated English majors, haha. He wants to be known for his posts about scrotum, anus and everything oral, anal or toilet-related. His site is whackoo, that needs no saying.

MrsGreenBellPepper – a newly-married Filipina engineer based in Singapore. She seems to me to be the caring, sensitive and capable woman. Her writings are often very fluent and yet, quite cheerful and honest.  You would want her for a sister or a friend or both. I do.

RKHouse – an American computer engineer in his 50s.  I consider him to be one of the best in small-town thinking, feeling and writing. Most of his posts are revised or edited poems from his high school and college days, which are like little vignettes that touch the reader daintily and softly. His writings teach us how to be simple and happy – with feet on the ground.

valleyroadrambler – a Canadian events organizer by day and a thoughtful widower and poet by night. He writes a lot about his love and how the experience of loving her and being loved by her, has changed him in so many wonderful ways. He is sharing his journey with the readers with a lot of thoughts and feelings on what matters in this complex times.

gelaikuting – a Filipina traveller. Her posts have lovely pics of the beaches she has visited.  Her photos take us places and she seems to be the kind who enjoys what she is doing and what she is sharing. Not many get the chance to wander as she does. Did I say she’s lucky? Yes, she appears to be.

momentsephemeres – a French writer and artist. I can’t figure out  her age yet. Her writings possess a not so traditional point of view about things chaotic, out of their places or as she says, ephemeral. Her prose captures objects, events and thoughts in a way that would make one think, visualize and yes, agree with her after much trepidation. Or, maybe, none at all.
larawan ng isang tasang kape

They say blogging requires passion and authority. Well, one out of two ain’t bad./


In a room full of people, chances are, only three (3) to five (5) would take to liking me instantly. I do not appear to be the kindly and caring type, haha. I look fierce, my eye brows are set high and people tend to think I am either too critical or uninterested. Some people think am too loud, hard to please and has far too many stories to tell.

On the other hand, some do think I look dumb, absent-minded and yet – when spoken with – turn out to be a person who knows way too much. And many people are not comfortable with that… To set the records straight, I do not eat people for starters, main course or dessert. I just leave them be, especially if they don’t bother me, haha. When they start bothering me, that is the time when my mind would cull everything worth reckoning about the persons.

I don’t gossip, never been my way. Whatever I think about a person just stays inside, I guess. It is only when I need to write about an idea, an event or a person that my mind works like an efficient abacus set to task. And, when it comes to writing, the snotty part of me enters the scene. One has to be really exceptional or must have done a very commendable act or been through a rather tight situation to make it through my page. I don’t know… ^_^


If it were my relatives or friends or people that I have worked with that you’re going to ask, they would tell you different. Hardworking, sensible, literary and thoughtful are some of the adjectives I have heard them use to describe this blogger. I am capable of hard work, yes. Despite being a feeler, there is that rational side of me that often takes over in tight situations, uncannily. I could also be thoughtful despite the appearances to the contrary, haha.

But the literary? I ponder on that one, yes. Despite having done writing for sometime already, I rarely get the chance to sound anything like literary. Most of the things I have written about are called discussion papers, position papers and comparative studies. There are letters, too – requests and replies. Sometimes, I get the chance to put in a little Lit on the titles, subtitles and captions, haha. Otherwise, most of them sound straight business and are dry and impersonal. Except the politician’s speeches, that is when I get to make use of verbs and adjectives that sound a bit, errr,  on the literary side. Otherwise, nada.


One of the reasons I ventured into blogging is to have a venue to exercise my personal writing skill. It’s not that those writings I mentioned are not writings – they are. But I wanted to know how I would sound in writings that are not commissioned or required by work or asked by certain people. I wanted a chance to  speak my own views, incorporating the things I have read (there is plenty of Literature there) and to test my voice before a public that is all my own.

So, when these people above came over to my About page and clicked on the Like button, I feel vindicated somehow. Connected. Linked in, with fellows who also want to convey something personal yet deserving of an audience as large as the world wide web.  They write with their pens and their brains and their hearts. By the way, did I say that they are awesome? They are. 😉


that part of us…


People often say that in order to move on, to proceed with our lives and to get to where we want to be, we must forgive the wrongs done to us. By other people, yes. It is said that by forgiving the person, without necessarily condoning or forgetting the cruel deed or mean act, we give ourselves the leave to sail forth forward, to row gently and energetically on top of the waves  and on to the port of our dreams. The advice is usually dispensed with a view to our well-being and of course, the giver normally means well.


larawan ng isang dalagang nagtatangkang lumimot

Are memories eroded or do we lock them away? /


But we know too well that we are encumbered and in a quandary, in fact. The headaches, the stress and the heartaches that come from being wronged by another person, naturally go away over time, we have proven this from many encounters. People come into and go away from our lives – some dare and succeed to ruffle it, some cause some ripples or creases but for most, all they manage is a little irritation, no more and no less. Unless, of course, the wrongdoing involves considerable damage to our public image, the welfare of our loved ones or a huge amount of money, exceptions that commonly fall under the topic of revenge.

For the greater part, very few can claim to have touched us – negatively or positively. We have developed our immunity to pain and pleasure to the level that we no longer succumb to the little pressures that come our way on hourly and daily bases. We have adapted to our environments – we have scales, horns and little pouches of pollen that we sprinkle, across the enemies who dare cross our territories, closer than what we allow or want. We have evolved. Maybe, a little against our natural inclinations or against our better judgments, but we have. Credits possibly go to our language capabilities, our creativity and that survival skill that we hardly recognize anymore but is, somehow, still there. And, we’re lucky. A little bored, maybe. But lucky, just the same.


And so, it seems we are no longer affected. Or, that, we are not easily affected. By the wrong things done to us, as I said earlier. We think things out a bit, we frown some and then, we shrug our shoulders. No use crying over spilt milk, we often say. No use going over what is obviously concluded. No use belaboring something that has clearly passed. We care not to remember. We have buried our retrieval skills. We only use it for special occasions – a work or an assignment, an unconventional project or a life-threatening circumstance. Otherwise, we put it in the back burner or in the attic or in the corner of the garage, for claiming as the need arises.

But we always cross our fingers that the need will not come forward. It’s too costly when it does and likewise, too taxing to go up the attic or to go past the dusts in the garage. The back burner, on the other hand, takes some time negotiating – too much information and concerns lodged in there. Let the sleeping dogs lie, we have coined that expression. We can take in a few more lies, to put it another way.


To go back to the forgiving part… Do we find it easier to forgive nowadays that we have honed our forgetting skills to a rather high degree? Are we a little more for-the-others type of persons, human beings? We can forget more, we can forgive more and so, we care more? Does that tally? Do they all add up nicely? Or, maybe, we need not go into that? What is important is we do not go the length or the trouble of hurting people back. We ignore the bruises and the cuts instead. And, by so doing, we hope to avoid possible bruises that are meant our way, from those we may have hurt or cut likewise, incidentally or otherwise. Mutual forgiveness. It is a modern phenomenon, perhaps. Care to let things slide and same will be done unto you. We dodge the ball, quite often.

Accountability, a rather old word. Heavy. Alas, it is the more weighty formulation of the word responsibility. We rarely take each other to task anymore, to make an accounting of something that has been done awry or wayward or plain bad, to render oneself accountable to his fellows for his acts or speech or promises. Acts can be forgotten(easy), words can be ignored(peanuts) and promises can be broken (not the first time), we say. The world has turned too complicated, living has spun too fast and multitudes of information cascade unto our lives by the minute. Accountability might as well find itself by the wayside, under the deep or on the wreckage pile. It’s quite possible.


We now forgive easily and we move on fast – on to the next interaction, new engagement and new distractions of our fast-moving lives. The constant demands on our daily routines seem to take all of our energy, attention and will power. We have no time for trifles, we say. Or, for things that make our noses and ears bleed. We have time for trivia, though. We don’t really mind watching inane television shows, highly sensationalized yet unverified news and we constantly hunger for the two or three lines bit updates on the goings-on in the lives of the celebrities and public figures. We now like things in a capsule – small, manageable and chewable bits that could be accessed and taken in, anytime, anyplace. And we take them for true on their face values.

It’s modern times and really, we have no time to ponder on the veracity or logic of the information fed to us via gazillion bytes. We assume that somebody knowledgeable has sorted and filtered them for us. And, we carry the same attitude in our dealings with real, live and up close people. We ask them to tell it straight and short, as in the news. We hardly listen to their stories and they rarely tell us any, anyway. Instead, we are all supposed and expected to link to each and one another online, via the different platforms called social networking and, to put and get our personal updates and ruminations there. And we suppose that things will work as before, fare well and tick as usual.

Things that appear to be lengthy and difficult, we easily dub as “issues,” requiring thinking, analysis and time. And often, we say that we have very little of those anymore. We shun discussions, we ignore plenty of details and we avoid conflicts – even the small, negotiable ones. We would rather that they are left to the experts or to the investigative journalists or that they are played out in the reality shows – our own, small and insignificant lives reflected on television. And we watch with curiosity and forbearance as other people act out our lives for us – dissected before the public’s unforgiving eyes and opinions. And, I guess, we’re a little bit comforted that in the distant somewhere, some people are struggling and suffering and being happy with little, as we are.


These new, convenient and handy gadgets, platforms and new format television shows all seem to ask us to take the fast and public ride, teaching us how to do things through their features and applications – download two dozen music here, upload 1000 pics here and put all our childhood musings here. They are guaranteed  to be easy, free and allows one to exercise his or her independence, to the highest level. And people – we like free and easy and we are glad of the socialization opportunities these new things extend us. We feel linked, sociable and connected. And yet, the promises of nearness, privacy and being connected do not seem to deliver and often we sorely feel the remoteness, the intrusive publicity and the distance of our interactions, for some reason… Somehow, we feel that we are leaving things and people behind and we grasp for the ephemeral events almost helpless.

It is the time of and for the interactive, all these digital and media platforms proclaim. But they seem to have forgotten to remind us that our capacities as individuals to go online, digital and public are not at the same level, not at all synchronized and not sharpened to the same degrees. Time and again, many people have sworn by the superiority and the efficacy of the personal, live interactions over the more modern though merely representative, impersonal ones. And yet, for the greater part, across continents and cities, we have acquiesced to the trend, joined the wagon and said out loud that the hoopla simply cannot be avoided. We would rather participate in the chase, to leave and go on ahead rather than to be left behind by the times.

Along with the new technologies, we have subscribed to the brand new beliefs and the speedy phase of life. We forgive easily nowadays, we’re rolling fast even as we’re not measuring the distance… Are we letting ourselves off too easily, one blog I read dared to ask. Are we successful in desensitizing ourselves, so far? The statistics we come across by the hours far outdo our capacity to remember, to react genuinely and to sympathize with our fellows. As more news of misery reach our ears, we are learning better and better how to privatize our woes. As more news of greatness flash on our screens, we come to accept that the victors are farther and farther from us. We learn each day that world, public events are accelerating faster and farther and the most we can do is follow up on the latest Yahoo news. Or, get updates on Twitter, if one has an account.


Have we handed our capacity to feel for ourselves to other people? Can we still formulate our own opinions? Do we have to, in the first place? Or, do the authorities and the experts have it all pat and easy for us? Maybe, we need not do a thing, anymore. We just have to access – join, watch, listen and then leave the moment things get boring or repetitious. No one is asking anybody to believe anymore. Everyone is simply enjoined, no coercion or strong words there. Or, at least, that is how things appear to be these days. You want things summed up or aggregated? There are sites that do that, one simply has to go there. You want things creative, personalized and nuanced, go and read blogs. You want things short and crispy? There’s Twitter. You want something really original and DIY, why there’s Pinterest. One could hardly complain about lack, most everything have been laid out, customized and dandy.


larawan ng isang poster na nagsasabi ng lohika ng pagpapatawad

We seem to forgive easily these days but are they well-considered and truthful forgiveness? /

And, probably, one only needs to decide which button it is going to be today. Or, at this hour. We want to reach out to others, true. We want to be reached by the others, too. These are basic human sentiments, needs even. But we seem to have forgotten how. Is it because we have gradually taken to remembering as few things as possible, forgetting as many instances as possible and forgiving other people and ourselves long before apologies are actually asked? Is it because we have forgotten as well that when we forgive others, it is actually ourselves that we are forgiving – for the bad deeds, for the nasty thoughts and for the negligence – that part of us that we find in other people, uncannily and yet verily, the part that reflects our very own. And when we say that we let things slide easily these days, good or bad, is it not part of our own selves that we are abandoning, little by little? 🙂