While searching for a flat in Singapore with two Pinoy colleagues, the agent showing us around discreetly cautioned us about noise level.
The owner had experiences with previous Pinoy tenants and neighbors who could not keep the noise down. The familiar weekend drinking sessions with buddies and the regular home karaoke singing flashed into mind.
We checked out other flats, talking to the agents. Once finding out we were Pinoys, somehow the subject of noise was again mentioned. We began to wonder if because of the influx of Pinoys here, some of our habits were getting a bad reputation.
After this you cannot help but be especially observant. Well, maybe Pinoys, particularly the newcomers and the younger groups, tend to talk loudly in the malls, buses and trains.
Is it just exuberance? Unlike the resident and older Pinoys here who have already adapted to the country, these newcomers seem unaware of their behavior among the other nationalities working here.
Over beer, my friends joked about the possible reasons why Pinoys can be loud and noisy. Pinoys are noisy because…
1) Noise pollution in our cities, due to the traffic of buses, jeepneys, motored
trishaws, are so bad that we have to shout to be heard above the din.
2) Nowadays there are so many maangas, makulit and pasaway back home, you can only get their attention by shouting.
3) We are constantly screaming curses at the government for incompetency, graft and corruption.
4) We are so used to noise and not complain about it. Neighbors nowadays wouldn’t think twice about playing music and singing karaoke in full volume till early morning.
5) We are generally into birit singing that it has affected our conversational pitch.
6) We watch daily TV soap operas from noon till night where the characters, who don’t seem to have regular jobs, do nothing but connive, verbalize the obvious, and constantly scream at each other. Viewers are conditioned into thinking it’s the same in real life. Being broad and loud are good.
7) Our favorite TV newscasters are those who seem to have come from radio. They deliver all types of news – interesting, mediocre or trivial – with the same level of alarming urgency.
8) We are so taken by televised Senate probes where officials try to impress with booming declarations, á la Sherlock Holmes deductions, Grand Inquisitor posturing to appear as cool “LA Law” lawyers before their constituents.
Later, my friend declared he had confirmed it. A little past midnight he was on his way to a 24-hour neighborhood grocery store. From a distance away he could already hear the music blaring.
Upon coming closer, he spotted a local woman holding a stick, stomping down the overpass from the apartment building across the street. She could have been pretty had her face not been distorted by anger.
The woman smashed the stick down the store counter, startling the nightshift Pinoy cashier.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to play music so loud!” she barked.
She continued to rant until the Pinoy cashier gathered his composure and meekly turned off the music.
The woman ranted a bit more before giving up and walking away. The cashier turned to my friend and said: “Good for her, I restrained myself from answering back.”
“It’s a good thing you did,” my friend replied. “You were in the wrong, you know. She could have easily called the police and they can have this shop closed down. Then you’ll be jobless.”
So again you can’t help but prick up your ears once back in Manila. It seems we have been so tolerant that we have gotten used to neighbors playing roaring music or singing roaring karaoke all day, and we do not complain.
Maybe even if you do complain, our new-generation Pinoys are prone to be either indifferent or confrontational.
You take a holiday at a resort and instead of getting peace, quiet and relaxation, you hear local holiday-makers singing any song they can birit or drunkenly bellow into the karaoke machines stationed on several corners of the place.
The habit continues to the cemeteries at All Souls Day.
Some malls have huge speakers blasting at the entrance. Inside the malls, a cacophony of sounds compete, as many shops have speakers constantly at full volume to attract attention. There are record bars playing loud hip-hop music beside sound-equipment shops playing rock beside boutiques playing R ‘n’ B.
In fast-food outlets and restaurants, the music can be above bearable level that you wonder if the owners just want you to eat and not engage in conversation.
The loud music that jeepneys and bus drivers play only add to the annoyance toward heat, pollution and traffic.
Is this an exaggeration? We have only to go outside and see ourselves at a perspective to be able to judge how true this is.
A country’s particular habit becomes obvious when seen alongside the habits of other nationalities.