He made promises that the neighborhood majority had always wanted: tough fight against illegal drugs, vow to be merciless against corruption in government, curfew for young people, end to contractualization and, yes, demise of loud karaoke singing through late hours that steal public sleep — at this moment, especially the latter, as deafening croaks from a rented karaoke machine in my neighbor’s illegitimate boarding house cause vibrations where I sit.
Karaoke croakers are often those who are surrounded by neighbors with wise preference for calm, so they are most likely insensitive to their infractions on peace, because they still have to get a taste of another’s deafening decibels.
I have always been tempted to buy a loudspeaker for a head-on collision with my neighbor’s karaoke, a confrontation between his Tom Jones and my, quite dramatically, rosary on tape, all four mysteries. That would shame him and his croaking cohorts, humble them and drive them to their knees in deep penitence.
The better option, however, is for the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Mabalacat City where I live, specifically in Barangay Lakandula (OK, this option is open to the rest of Pampanga, or even the entire country in keeping with Duterte’s campaign avowals) to come out with a law that bans karaoke beyond 9 p.m. Karaoke sound before deadline should also not be so loud as to make any neighbor complain.
Such law, I propose, be also made an income-generating source for barangays whose offi cials and tanods are to be designated karaoke croaker hunters. Any complaint received by the barangay on loud karaoke before the 9 p.m. leads to one warning to the croaker, after a tanod or two confirms violation. Another complaint means a fine of P2,000. A third complaint stashes away the karaoke unit, regardless of who owns it, which is redeemable only from the barangay office upon payment of P5,000 fine. Or make it P10,000 (darn, now somebody’s croaking Imelda Papin for the nth time).
As for the unforgivable karaoke playing past 9 p.m., a complaint need not be. It is enough that at a barangay official or tanod catches the violator for the immediate confiscation of the karaoke unit, redeemable only after a fine of P15,000 is paid. Now, if the karaoke playing music is appendaged by a singer, the latter – drunk or not – shall spend the night in the barangay jail or pay P1,000, or both if he or she manifests resentment.
Somewhere I read that overindulgence in loud, neighbor-disturbing karaoke singing is a sign of being dumb, a manifestation of narcissism of the dumbest variety. It is also a sign of conscience thick with leftover cooking oil. The croaker is convinced his singing is so grand as to dissolve any shame in ramming repulsive croaking into unknown eardrums.
It’s an exercise that not only dims wits, but also makes sensible neighbors wish each croaker turn into toads. I hope to see my neighbor promptly hopping tomorrow.