Thursday, April 19, 2007


Anyone reading this will be, of course,reading it on a PC monitor or, perhaps,a printed version taken from a computer. As I write this first draft, I am not seated at a PC; I have no Internet access. I have pen in hand and I'm putting this down on paper which has become soft due to the humidity.

It's nearly 7:00 AM and I'm sitting on a bench, on a farm located in the Barangay of Tubtubon, in the municipality of Sibulan,Negros Oriental in central Philippines. To say the farm is isolated would not be an overstatement. This farm, like the surrounding farms, cannot be reached by car or tricycle. A road isn't far off but, to get here you must travel by motorcycle or walk.

What strikes me as odd....and the reason I felt a need to pick up this pen, is that it is so incredibly noisy here. There are the usual noises you'd find on a farm; chickens roam around, clucking. There's the occasional barking dog. There are pigs on this farm though not nearly as many as on the next farm who can also be heard squealing for their breakfast. There are four roosters -raised to be fighters. I imagine every house in the Barangay has, at least, an equal number. Each one crowing back and forth.

These sounds are to be expected on a farm. Nothing unusual in that. No, it's the additional, unnecessary noises that strike me as being out of place. During waking hours, there is the constant din of music blaring from radios and CD players.

I can almost understand a person's wish to use music to transport themselves to another time and can be a great escape mechanism. But,here,on these isolated farms, you cannot escape the music.

Filipinos love American music. You are surrounded by it. It's not only contemporary music but music coming from every decade since the 1950's. Some is done by the original artist though some is performed by a Filipino imitator. The popularity of karaoke is unlike anything an American will see at home.

Like marketers in the U.S., stores owners here have learned the value of entertain shoppers with music coming over the intercom system. I'd never paid very much attention to the background music until, one day while grocery shopping, I noticed the music had stopped and I could hear praying instead. Everyone in the store -both the workers and the shoppers - had paused to pray along in silence.

After this, I started paying closer attention to the sounds coming over the loud speakers in the department stores. I noticed something completely out of place. In two different stores I heard the music suddenly change from "oldies" to a kind of rap or hip hop. I'm not familiar enough with that genre to say the names of the groups or even if the performer was American or a Filipino imitator. I listened to the lyrics. Singing in English, the singer was spewing forth the most vile, obscene and vulgar language imaginable. I'm not going to repeat the lyrics here. Let me say that the music could never had been played in a department store in the U.S..

Filipinos pride themselves as a nation of English speakers and most understand a bit. After hearing this music, I'd have to think that most do not understand as much as they believe.
I doubt that any store owner that would play recordings of Hail Marys over the intercom would knowingly play this sort of music if he really understood what the singer was singing.

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