The Philippines

performers and listeners

Kumusta from The Philippines,

When Daryl Braithwaite was once co-opted to endorse a singing programme – encouraging more Australians to take up the art, I seem to remember – he opined, “Everybody can sing.” Yes, everyone can sing if they can talk – literally.

Even stutterers can sing fluently. King George VI famously had his stammer cured by a programme of singing. But not everyone can sing well. Some curmudgeons who value their quietude want poor singers to recognise the fact and keep the peace. They can sing to themselves but not aloud, they might say. 


   Here in The Philippines, the populace cottoned on to Daryl’s view long before Daryl’s was warbling away at the front of Sherbet. Everywhere you go, locals break into song without backing, without apparent impetus from any other source, and without embarrassment. As often as not, the song is amplified by microphone, even when there is no Karaoke playing and at all times of the day. The curious thing is that most are not terribly good at it.     Perhaps Tagalog doesn’t automatically lend itself to translation to song, as Italian and Spanish clearly do. Perhaps they haven’t had the long tradition of melody, harmony and song-wrights plying their trade, but a majority seem to be anything but mellifluous.

     But, what does it matter anyway? That’s not the point of singing is it? If Filippinos are the happiest in the world – so they say – isn’t it logical that they manifest their happiness in song? Singing is for the performer, rather than the listener, just as some sports are better enjoyed by the player than the spectator. The listener is not enduring the off-key noise but appreciating another creature’s joy. The grumpy listener has no leg to stand on by complaining. They are just admitting that someone else’s joy is an irritation to them. Amplifying the singing only broadcasts the joy over a greater area. 

    Daryl Braithwaite was right and all those grumpy curmudgeons who value their quietude are dead wrong. Bad singing is good singing.
Paalam from Palawan


Other photos from hereabouts

sunset across the bay

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