This morning, I was awoken to a sound one doesn’t often hear in the USA nor probably any other developed nation. Its not a very pleasant sound. A piglet that is screaming for its life, but to no avail as it has already been selected to serve as someone’s lechon. It doesn’t take long, maybe five minutes at most. The farmer will cut the jugular and the pig soon bleeds to death. It sounds more scared than in pain. Its sad to hear the life drain out of them, but once they get weak they go fast. Its not a drawn out thing.
Now not everyone in the Philippines is lucky enough to live next to a piggery like me, so don’t’ worry, you’ll probably not have to endure this.
I know its kind of a sad, ghoulish topic but people, most of us, are meat eaters and sometimes I think we don’t really face that. That’s the Ted Nugent in me coming out though. If you ever saw that madman’s reality show, you’ll understand that comment.
I once read a blog about a travelers first night here. The first sentence on their first blog entry about there trip was “There sure are a lot of roosters in the Philippines.” I don’t know why but that struck me as very funny.
Yeah, there are a lot of roosters in the Philippines, like sand on the beach and stars in the sky but noisy. When one crows for attention in the middle of the night, every rooster in town gets going. Since I live in a rural town, every other house has a rooster or three. They do crow back and forth to each other. As it is quite, one lets loose, then another and you can hear them getting further in the distance. It is a chain reaction of rooster ego for all the world to hear!
A couple of times, I went down stairs late at night. It always feels creepy there, like your not alone. Don’t ask me why, I don’t now why, I just know what it feels like. One time I heard this strange sound, as my heart started to beat up and the adrenaline began to rush, I realized it was a freaking rooster flapping its wings! Big tough guy I am, yeah right.
Ice Cream Vendors
Awww, the bubbly sound of the ice cream vendor. I wish there was a good way to describe this sound. Its extremely pleasant (if your the type of person that likes to drive spikes through your eyes) when several of them congregate together. They like to do this late in the day in Bogo City. One can often find them down on the wharf. Either there’s a lot of people on the wharf that want to buy ice cream, or they are just trying to kill off the last hour of their shift.
In the Philippines, at least in the areas that I’ve been too, the ice cream man comes on a bike, not a truck. Gotta be a hot hard job. Most Filipino are extremely hard workers though, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Oh they party hard too, the rest better than any group of people I know, but they do work very hard. Of course, there are exceptions. I have seen very few over weight male Filipino.
Depending on the source, the Filipino often call this dirty ice cream. Its not really dirty but they call it that, I think, because they don’t know who made it. Its a family operation rather than coming from a chain. My girlfriend tells me she has a cousin that prefers it. He always wants dirty ice cream and not that which comes from a well known vendor.
There are fewer bread vendors, but they make an even lovelier music. They have a different sound.
Oddly the bread vendors have the same “song” here as they did 100Km away, down in Talisay. The bread vendors, also have the same “music” that I heard in Cebu City and Talisay.
There is a bakery with awesome smelling bread on every street, or so it seems. I don’t know why they have to peddle it to our homes too.
Both the ice cream and bread vendors create their music as they peddle their bikes. It provides the energy source for their not so beautiful music. It sounds a lot like a bad midi that one use to encounter on so many websites during the early years of the world wide web.
I once heard a sermon where the pastor included the questions “Why did we take the bells out of the steeple.” I don’t remember if he had an answer or not but we certainly have bells in the steeples here. There was a catholic church near my home in Memphis that played music from theirs before they had mass or other events.
In the Philippines, at least where I’m at, the churches have real bells. They just love to ring them. They love to ring them around 4am here. In Bogo, they must have mass of the rooster every day, not just during the Christmas Season. They are not unpleasant at all, I enjoy them.
One can also hear mass that is pipe through the PA system. Some times there are cantors too. Perhaps not quite in the style one might find in a Jewish synagogue. Not that different though. A bit more of a spoken word, rather than pure song.
There are various vendors through out a city. One can hear them calling out. Reminds me of the area my grand parents lived in in Jackson, Ms. during the late 1960′s. I would often see a guy pulling his cart, sometimes with his children helping him.
Here, they usually carry a basket with their wares, sometimes balancing their fruits, vegetables or balot on their head. Balot too is usually delivered via a bicycle though, rather than walking. There is usually a basket on the bike that helps keep the balot warm. Often wrapped in towels to provide insulation and a cushion. I usually cannot understand what they are calling out. Sounds mumbled to me but they stretch it out. Baaalllloooootttt in a low pitch, almost like they are in pain. I think it ads to the charming atmosphere of the Philippines.
Thump, thump, thump is the sound of the bass from a distant speaker some where in the city pounding out the music for all those in the barrio or neighborhood. Sometimes though, its not so far away and you get the full effect of the music as if it where blasting from your teenagers room!
In the Philippines, everybody is a singer and they blast it out over their home karaoke. It doesn’t bother me when I’m out about town. It usually drives Jessie crazy. They may think they are singers but they are not good singers. Every now and then you’ll run across someone that can sing well. Most Filipino don’t seem to care. I admire their confidence in singing regardless of the way it sounds. not only sing but amplify it.
I don’t usually notice it until Jessie points it out, unless I’m at home and a nearby neighbor starts up and doesn’t stop until 4am, kind of hard not to notice that.
Driving here brings its own “music.” If you blew your horn like this in Memphis, someone would get shot. Here though, people blow their horns to be helpful. They may give a couple of beeps as they approach an intersection or when overtaking to let the other driver know they are there. It ends up in a lot more horn blowing. Of course there is the occassional long, how dare you blowing of the horn, but that’s kind of communication is much more likely in the USA. I have yet to see the middle finger come up any where in the Philippines. Can’t talk about sounds of the Philippines and totally leave out the horn blowing. Try not to live on a busy street.
Its always important to remember when speaking of the Philippines, it is easy to make the mistake of applying local experiences to the entire Philippines. Doing so will often lead to incorrect conclusions. It wouldn’t surprise me, if Davao and Makati are quite different. Makati is a more upscale area near Manila while Davao has laws that most other cities don’t have. I don’ t know if they have various noise laws. Perhaps someone can tell us.
Did I forget anything? Let me hear from you!
Rusty Ferguson is an American Expat living in Bogo, Cebu.