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Daygon

carolerI love judging choral contests because they are funny. Gone are the days when choir singing was a serious business reserved for the musically gifted. Today, anybody with the musical intelligence of a frog can join a choir for those mandatory daygon contests in schools or the workplace. It is fun, like Christmas should be.

I’m not talking about ‘professional’ singing groups. They are the type that win awards abroad but are seldom recognized at home. They are boring. When singers start forming a perfect ‘O’ with their mouths for that modulated vocal effect, you know they are faking it. Besides, when one starts singing for awards, the element of fun is gone.

I’m talking about amateur choral groups. We are familiar with the experience because a couple of times during our student days we had been asked to join daygon contests. If you’re lucky enough to have escaped the embarrassment in school, there’s little chance you can escape it at the workplace.

There is no set of criteria for joining amateur choral groups other than the guts to stand before a crowd whose business it is to laugh at you the first chance they got. You are twice unlucky if you’re short like me because you have to stay in front. The problem with being a front liner in a choir is that you can’t be sure if the rest of the group hasn’t left you to finish the song alone. And there’s nobody in front to cue you in on what’s next in the choreography. Group singing is cruel to the vertically challenged.

This makes judging choral competitions extremely pleasurable for me. Practically my entire student life – from kindergarten to graduate school – I sang in choirs, and God knows how many times I looked stupid on stage forming that silly ‘O’ with my mouth and doing the polka. Judging choral competitions gives me the chance to do the laughing myself.

Amateur singing groups can’t sing. To hide this basic deficiency, contest organizers require competing groups to execute complicated choreography and don elaborate costume in the hope of diverting the audience’s attention from the foul singing.

But this only gives us, the judges, and the audience more reasons to laugh. When before we only had to watch out for stray notes, we now also have to figure out why on earth this particular group has members wearing kimonos while singing “Kasadya”. And what’s the “papaya” dance routine doing there? There has to be a Christmas significance somewhere.

While daygon contests face a crisis of relevance, street carolers are sticking to the basics. For these boys, caroling is nothing but begging set to yuletide music. If like me you take the jeepney to get around in the city, you might have seen these kids in twos, barging in for the ride when it’s red light.

They have to come in pairs because of the way they interpret Christmas carols. While one sings, the other shouts out the last two syllables of a line for emphasis. Take the Tagalog carol “Pasko Na Naman:”

Boy 1: “Pasko na naman, O kay tulin nang araw…”
Boy 2: “ARAW!”
Boy 1: “Paskong nagdaan tila ba kung kailan lang…”
Boy 2: “LAN LANG!”
Boy 1: “Ngayon ay pasko dapat pasalamatan…”
Boy 2: “MATAN!”
Boy 1: “Ngayon ay pasko tayo ay mag-awitan.”
Boy 2: “WITAN!”

If this were a daygon contest, I’d be laughing my head off. But there’s nothing funny about children in tattered clothes singing in monotone and begging for loose change. And the boys are now in the chorus part: pasko – PAKSIW! – pasko – PAKSIW! – pasko na namang muli!

(SUN.STAR CEBU, Dec. 16)

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7 Responses to “Daygon”

  1. Good one. hahaha I had stitches!

  2. soy, mas nalingaw ko sa related link on wendy porillo. whats the link?

  3. hi doc tess. the links are auto-generated.

  4. remember the days when pinamungajan had no electricity?carolers brought torches made out of dried coconut leaves.
    one narrated the lyrics…the lead singer screamed it out …the sleepy ones served as background vocalists & torch holders.they sang “u better watch out,u better not cry..”
    i woke up & saw the lead singer’s hair was caught on fire!
    happy holidays!!!

  5. i admire the way you think!


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