Saturday, March 12, 2011

(Too) Loud and clear

"Pabayaan mo na. Malapit na naman silang matapos eh." (Just let it be. They'll be done soon anyway.)

Ah, yes, we've been saying that for the past three months, I muttered.

What's there to let be? The auditory assault that results from the boombox-playing right at this moment next door, where a construction has been going on even before we moved to our new home in October last year. I'm not sure if it's only in Manila (or only in the Philippines even), but where there's a residential construction going on, there's bound to be really loud music playing as well.

Let me write from the outset that the issue here may not be a matter of decibels but of musical tastes. But first, a backgrounder...

It was October when we moved to this new neighborhood. It's not a gated community which would normally have strict guidelines regarding loud music or visitors entering-exiting the village. By then, the lot beside ours was well into constructing what looked like a huge two-storey house. And by then, the daily banter of the workers wafted into our living room window; music blasting from some player drifted into our abode as well. But usually we were too preoccupied with housework to notice. After all, we had just moved, and there was unpacking to do, painting jobs to watch, furniture arrangement/disposal to decide on, more unpacking to do, missing things to look for, and still more unpacking to do.

I think it was towards Christmas that the din next door started to be really noticeable. Still, patience was practiced, owing largely to the spirit of the Season of giving.

The new year came and the house next door was still far from complete. Not only that -- we had to contend with more noise on a daily basis: the cement mixer at work, the jackhammer doing its nerve-wracking work, various power tools whirring about, and other things construction workers probably take for granted but which would drive normal people to either whine in exasperation or yell invectives in sheer annoyance.

"Bakit ba kailangan nilang magsigawan pag nag-uusap eh magkakatabi lang naman sila? (Why do they have to yell at each other when they talk when they're just beside each other?)" I asked my mom one day, irritated by the non-existent moderation in the workers' conduct of conversations.

"Sanay sila sa maiingay na makina kaya kahit hindi na naka-on ang makina, linalakasan pa din nila ang boses nila (They're used to noisy machines so even though the machines are turned off, they still talk at the top of their lungs)" she explained, half-amused.

I understood that machinery was a normal part of every construction site. And talking is a normal part of everyday life at work. But what really got to me was the noise blasting from the music player day in and day out. It was fast, usually techno or metal. Sometimes they had some Pinoy ballads playing for some emo moments. But must they up the volume that half the barangay would hear it? Sometimes, it wasn't even 8am yet and the drum beats of some song would already be vibrating over the fence.

So one morning not long ago, when some techno-pop tune pierced the air yet again while I was savoring my breakfast (it was shortly before 7am), I walked to the telephone and gave the barangay hall a call. After describing the situation, even mentioning that I had already talked with the foreman once and kindly requested that they turn down the music because they may not notice that it becomes loud enough to awaken my mother in slumber many times, I was told to wait and that somebody from the barangay accompanied by a policeman would drop in on the rowdy dudes.

Smug, I waited. I savored the moments leading up to the abrupt ceasing of the music, which came around 10 minutes later. Ahhh silence. Everyday since then felt like a normal day. My family and I felt like normal persons.

Until today, when loud music greeted us again at breakfast. What was the occasion? Had they all awakened with amnesia? I'm not sure what the reason was but I'm glad I had to be out of the house till mid-afternoon. Upon coming home, it was reasonably quiet...until a little later when the techno drum beats were at it again, prompting my exasperated query about the resurrected noise and eliciting the "Pabayaan mo na..." reply of our house helper.

Right now, no musical instruments can be heard over speakers. But one of the dudes has taken to singing a capella at the top of his lungs every few minutes. Sigh. Pabayaan na. Well, it is a weekend. And we did have a two-week break or something like that from the auditory assault. Pabayaan na.

Come Monday morning, let's see. In my opinion, a mindset like "pabayaan na" can be a manifestation of mercy and patience. On the other hand, it can also be an excuse for letting things just slide by when the right thing to do is to take a practical measure.

Let's see if the sound of silence prevails come Monday morning.

* Illustration by Royston Robertson


petrufied said...

hopefully they let you write in peace tomorrow. and that somebody buys them portable radios with earphones :P

sunnyday said...

Fortunately, I don't have any scheduled writing for tomorrow besides some email messages. I'm doing and photographing the "junk jewelry" tomorrow :-)

Oh well, let's see how peaceful it will be tomorrow. I'm trying to balance Lenten charity and the upholding of justice ;-)

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