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.
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. 🙂
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?
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? 😉
- Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
- My Way – Frank Sinatra
- Yesterday – The Beatles
- My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
- Living on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
- The Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston
- Open Arms – Journey
- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – The Platters
- Dancing Queen – Abba
- No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley
- Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
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.
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.
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. 😉