Crazy thoughts in these crazy times.

Our regular Zoom videoconference at the office includes work-from-home personnel in Manila, Visayas and Mindanao. And all sorts of background noises. Every session is open to  the sound of life in the backdrop.

You can’t blame people for not having soundproof spaces in their homes.

Different places, but no different plays. What everyday life sounds like in Cebu or CDO,  is of course, not unlike our environment buzz here in Manila. And vice versa.

Now therefore — unless you have something to add like TikTok noise — I can honestly declare these are the usual virtual meeting room ambiance sounds, Pinoy settings.

Not in any particular order:

1. “Taho!” The classic early morning taho vendor call we grew up with, in the first order of business.

2. “Balot!” A balut vendor’s bellow topping the agenda. What used to be a nighttime goodie back in the days, now an afternoon delight. Perhaps due to its aphrodisiac power?

3. “Mais!” How about the shriek of corn peddlers for an icebreaker? Loud and clear: mah –iiiiss!

4. “Buko!” As in Harry Belafonte’s song: “coconut the woman is calling out, and everyday you can hear her shout.” Only — here in the Philippines — the men do the calling, as evidenced on our videoconference record files.

5. Fish vendors. Most of whom peddle a variety of catches. But they don’t need to shout out each and every sort. They cry ulam! instead.

6. Dogs. The snarl of an askal on the street. Or someone else’s dog getting frustrated seeing his master engaged with a silly screen instead of him. 

7. Garbage truck. The crash-boom-bang noise of trash cans and heavy duty hydraulic grinding, drowning out all conversations.

8. Motorcycle mufflers. Loud and ear-splitting. Whatever happened to the Muffler Act of 2016. We ought to have an anti-nuisance law.

9. Bote! The call of bakal-bote-dyaryo guy. The original waste management czar. A mainstay in the virtual meeting quorum.

10. Cock crows. In the Philippines, there’s always one sabungero in the neighborhood. So that a rooster’s tilaok becomes an everyday truth. Regular, as the air we breathe.

Fortunately, these are all merely fleeting sounds. (Not  to  mention the households who are sometimes extra loud.)

And they don’t come in altogether.

And there are many ways to shut these noises off. But that would be taking out the fun.





  1. Such an interesting list, not many of which I can say I’ve heard. I imagine it’s quite a unique experience, as is many occasions these days.

  2. So many noises, both positive and challenging all coming together in a day. You make the Philippines sound so rich and amazing with these sounds.

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