In today's society, Successful parties, outings, get togethers, to western standards, are now seemingly measured by the number of likes or comments on the following days FB posts, or Instagram likes. That's just how our world seems to work these days.
Now that being said, I'd be a hypocrite to say I don't like the exhilaration and feeling I get when someone likes my blog post or an incredible photo I happen to capture. It all has a place in today's society.But this, this is a little different. Living abroad seems to give a different perspective on what an event or social gathering is really about.
On our island of Tablas, in the middle of the South Pacific, we are privileged to live and embrace the diverse and unique Philippine culture. its colorful fiesta's, beauty pageants (both for women and gay men ) huge dance parties, Ati Ati Han festivals, Are safely and proudly displayed at each Barangay event. It's just a way of life here, and each event is eagerly anticipated for the following year, as soon as the last person sweeps up the last piece of trash.
Then there is a another single activity that brings the young and old together, no mater of status or demographic. If your a city born Filipino, or a province born one, this single most important iconic things is what, to me defines this country in unity.
KARAOKE.... Yes, I said it..... karaoke.
I have enjoyed the sweet songs of every era, dating back to the 50's in this incredible family fun activity. I have also heard incredibly bad Karaoke sung by sweet old men, who's skin was so weathered by the sun and hard labour, that they could have been 50, based on their enthusiasm , but dared not ask.
The accolades as each song was completed, good or bad, is always met with cheers, and the passing of the microphone to the next singer who has eagerly been waiting for their turn to show off their singing skills.
As the men sing, Gin, Brandy, water and pluton (finger foods) typically of some type of animal entrails is customary. I am a bit leery to try it, because I'm proudly told of what it's made of by the host, but I do. It's tasty, but I can't get over the thought of what it composed of, so I chew what I have in my mouth, smile and thank them for being so gracious. I then drink a bottle of water....
The women, I swear the graces of the universe gave each Filipino woman the ability to sing like angels. I'm always in awe, how they master these notes and songs with such ease. Even mothers with babies in the arms they are on key and don't miss a beat, to ensure their idol place among the group of singers.
I am however, just perplexed, and amazed how this has become such an important part of any party, that if your not singing, or being a part of the cheering crowd, your met with confusing stares, as to how you can't love the last song and singer. It's like a personal concert each singer is having, and they address the crowd or friends just so. Whether your at a local bamboo hut side of the road bar with chickens walking on the tables, a family gathering, or a huge fiesta , each singer is given the respect and encouragement to showcase their style and abilities. Everyone, especially foreigners are playfully expected to sing with the group.
All this usually til around 5am. Non stop. no matter where you are in the Philippines, you will hear it. Seems then there is a respectful break, or the last singers finally fall from grace, and pass out from all the nights activities.
1 hour .... Max. back at it again.
Louder and clearer than before. It echoes the whole island, and I'm sure it's even 10 km away, but we still hear it, and the sounds coupled by the dogs barking, roosters crowing and the birds chirping make for a normal start to the day. I won't lie, we now have a karaoke machine in our house, and when the occasion calls for it, (making coffee is considered an occasion) my adoring husband loves to sing with the best of them. His favorite is Bob Marley, he's actually quite good at it, and my girls, well they sing only when I force them too.
It's a Filipino party after all, and where else can you sing badly, and still get a rock star following except in the Philippines. I too have sung, my favorite is Celine Dion (bucket list to see her someday). I never dare sing alone, I always have my back up girls to assist like Gladys night and the pips. Oh I know I am horrible, but I don't care, I belt out the tune, as loud and as heartfelt as I can, so much so that I even surprise myself when I hit higher octaves. Damn, that felt good, and I feel a bit embarrassed that I liked it so much. Waiting for the crowds to cheer, more more more.
No wonder music icons revel in fans cheers! I am a Star, love me, adore me, "for my next song"....
"Excuse me ma'am , it's my turn next".
"Sigh", that was short lived, but such a rush. I love it, and will make sure to bring such innocent fun back to the table when I am in Canada.
Hmm, I wonder how well this unadorned singing would go over in a summertime back yard bbq? I feel police, and a polite noise violation may be on the table, but what the hell.... We need to unite neighbourhoods, and enjoy the power of community like my experiences In the Philippines.
It's more fun in the Philippines