Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sounds of the Philippines

Many mornings I have been awakened by the sound of the Walis ting ting. It is a local broom made out of the stem of the coconut leaves with the leaf stripped away and the center part dried and strapped together to make a broom. The katulong (househelp) usually start their day by sweeping the street in front of their respective houses and then on to the driveway and porch. Their days can start pretty early and mine end pretty late…I am not a country boy and so my conception of the rooster crowing in the morning was that they waited until a decent hour…maybe it is the time difference and these are American birds…but they crow starting at around 2 am and keep on crowing for 3 or 4 eternities…well sometimes it may seem that way. I guess you know when you are getting acclimated to the place when you don’t notice those things as often.

You may see a brake drum, but the average Philippino sees an excellent bell! They hang the brake drum from the bicycle handlebars and tap it with another piece of metal to announce their arrival. Usually they are selling some type of food. They have ice cream vendors on bicycles, mami carts (soup), fried meat, fried nuts and just about whatever the local folks might like to eat. The bell sounds very similar to a train crossing bell. It is effective.
Others sounds include an older man driving his bicycle and yelling what sound like “Balooooo” Which is really Balut. (Duck embryo partially formed in the shell and boiled) or the man riding his bike yelling “Hasa….” Which means to sharpen, he is offering to sharpen your knives. Or the merienda lady…She may have a covered tray balanced on her head (no hands) or carrying a tray in her arms, walking through the neighborhood saying “Merienda…Merienda” which of course means snack.

The traffic sounds are myriad. Horns are a must, and a light double tap announces that you are getting ready to pass the person. The problem is, when you get into traffic, there are so many horns that they lose their effectiveness and you start to tune them out. Perhaps that is reason why they install really loud ones. There is the fog horn sound, the sirens, the whistle and etc. etc. etc…The government actually passed a law outlawing these horns and so everyone immediately removed them for fear of a ticket…no sorry, that would be America. So everyone did nothing and business continued as usual. We have one jeepney driver who picks up people for the church services, that likes to announce his arrival with his special whistle horn sound. I noticed that he doesn’t use it if service hasn’t started.


Angela Eury said...

What a blessing to read your stories about the Philippines! Your vivid descriptions allow me to hear the sounds and see the sights in my mind's eye.

Thanks so much for taking time to reflect on your experiences.

Bro. Gardner said...

Hello: This site of yours was a real blessing, and a challenge as well. Thank you for what you all are doing and may God truely bless you guys.