Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Airport Troubadour

I was waiting for my flight back to Manila in Tagbilaran’s tiny airport when all of a sudden, a loud guitar strum and a short introduction in English with a thick Bisaya accent and a slightly American drawl (um, um) boomed from behind the dark glasses of a beaming mid-sized guy with newly cropped hair. He was blind and he was going to entertain waiting passengers, while his companion positioned the donation box prominently in front.

“I’m gowna sing this classic song by Iltoon Jen”, he drawled. Who?

“Tarn me looze…” Ah, Elton John.

Despite the almost unintelligible lyrics, it was obvious the guy was enjoying himself. He was like your neighborhood tambay (bum) singing the blues away at the corner sari-sari (variety) store. He did well although he snarled himself through some of his numbers and he was unable to hit and occasionally scrapes the top notes.

Usually, when I hear a musical number my mind automatically searches for technical flaws and inconsistencies. I wear my critic’s hat and right on the spot mentally assesses the performance. You can’t really blame me. With so much bad music around, one has to distinguish works that have real merit from filth and garbage.

Anyway, this time around, I found myself really entertained. I didn’t mind the fact that he was obviously not a very good singer and he mangled the lyrics. But he sang from the heart and he was like having the time of his life. He was beaming with such good natured-ness it was infectious. I already forgot, at least for the moment, that I only slept three hours the night before, which was the eve of our barrio’s fiesta. (Our house was unfortunately only a shouting distance from the basketball court/disco venue). This is not even tongue-in-cheek, mind you. I do appreciate well-meaning efforts like this one. Bravo.

In the middle of his performance, he paused and thanked a long-list of government officials for their support: mayor, governor, the province’s three congressmen, tourism director, airport administrator. I forgot the others. Plus the usual hype that comes with their positions: “our very own”, “energetic”, “supportive”, “young and dynamic”. Oh my God. Honest. It took something like 5-7 minutes.

Anyway, it was time to leave and he bid the passengers adieu. (No, he didn’t sing “So Long, Farewell” from the Sound of Music).

Upon reaching the foot of the plane’s stairs, I had to stand back as some people were having their pictures taken while climbing the stairs! Oh, well. We have the usual tourists from hell on board.

Back to my humdrum, inconsequential existence.


Anonymous said...

Hahaha! I saw that guy too sometime in Feb. Yeah, I remember the accent. And yes, I was entertained. In fact, I gave him P100 tip!! :)

so, there was 'disco' or 'bayle' in your barrio?? remember it when i used to go to inabanga when i was a kid.... and yes, i participated in those bayle.... hahaha.