Makinig Kayo Na (Listen to Me!)
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