Friday, May 26, 2006

Makinig Kayo Na (Listen to Me!)

Americans are closet singers. We sing in the shower. We sing in our cars. Maybe you whistle a jingle while walking the dog. But how many of us belt out a tune on the city bus? The subway? Uh, huh.

Well, in the Philippines, singing is done everywhere and every event gives you an excuse to sing. It's not unusual to ride a jeepney, cheek to cheek, and have the 20 passengers break out into song in unison to whatever is on the radio at the moment. Last year, when a popular singer, Nina, had a hit "Love Moves (in Mysterious Ways)," there wasn't a mouth on the jeepney that was silent. Including mine!

I confess that in my heart I love the schmaltz of it all. It feels good to belt out a tune in public, even if you are sometimes offkey. The beauty of it all is that no one here cares if you can't sing ... as long as you sing.

This week, I joined two other Peace Corps volunteers for a night out of videoke. Videoke is karaoke sung to cheesy videos in the background. (We've been in Cebu all week training teachers from Mindanao in a program called Tudlo Mindanao. The program brings teachers from Mindanao to Cebu because it is too dangerous for Americans to travel to Mindanao.)

The hotel staff recommended a really nice (expensive) videoke place, which we rejected, in typical Peace Corps fashion, for a little hole in the wall across the street.

It was a place without a name. In fact we initially weren't sure if it was actually a bar or someone's home. The owners of the establishment -- the kind of place where you would not be at all surprised if a rat ran across your toes -- were thrilled to have us. I suspect they don't get too many foreign girls in the joint.

Erin McNeff set the tone with a rendition of Madonna's Crazy for You. Then all eyes were on us. I've taken a liking to singing videoke, mostly because I'm a closet singer, too, and miss my nights in the hot shower at home, belting out my tunes. But here in the Philippines, it's been a great way to practice Tagalog.

I have a couple of current Tagalog favorites I sing, which as you can imagine, thrills the locals. Each time you sing, the machine judges you and gives you a score up to 100 at the end. Jen Austin and I sang a duet of one of my favorite videoke songs -- Pagdating ng Panahon -- and scored 100. Who says I can't sing?

Pagdating ng panahon (At the right time)
Baka ikaw rin at ako (Maybe you and I again)
Baka tibok ng puso ko'y (Maybe the beat of my heart)
Maging tibok ng puso mo (Will be the beat of your heart)

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. ~Voltaire


Blogger wrcampiii said...

Hey. Singing to youself is a good thing. It helps keep down the other distraction of which you have plenty. Enjoy yourself and your wonderful voice!

8:15 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

hey girl...i remember that night well. leaving here without you just isn't right...remember when you turned 40 and I got engaged and we celebrated with Indian food?

kate and i tried to belt it out for you at your memorial service...i'm pretty sure you were there helping us get through it. thanks, for everything. miss na miss kita.

3:12 AM  
Blogger floulet said...

I thank God from the bottom of my heart that Julia came to the lives of my countrymen. She's such an inspiration. She will be remembered and revered always.

I'm just sad that I didn't know about her blog long before she's gone.

To her family..."sorry" and thank you very much for allowing Julia to share her love to my kababayans.

2:49 AM  

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