Multitudes travel the roads countless times they have lost count of their trips, but in their journeys, they surely must have noticed one particular “noise” when on board motor vehicles.
Like you, being on a short or long trip, in a jeep, taxi, bus, van or any private or convenience vehicle, it may have caught your distracted attention. And in noticing, as your case may be, depending on your mood swing, hearing, like or dislike, it could have heightened the trip pleasurable or depressed it unpleasant.
Or, even listening to it may have even transported you back to hopes you have dreamt but were quashed, having never materialized as the years marched on and instead added lines on your once smooth face. For who was that Cordillera highland troubadour who once sang to Daily Laborer that “music is the soul of broken dreams?”
Indeed, just listening to it may have made you realize it’s the language of the soul, seeping into your past and probably resonating into your future.
What Daily Laborer refers to, is about music percolating from the “car stereo” in the dashboard of a motor vehicle. If slurping coffee or kape barako remains a habit of many Cordilleran and lowlanders to the point of addiction, it happens, too, many engaged in driving along Cordillera roads are afflicted with this addiction of having their ears drink a cupful of music.
Of course, we hear countless times music being described “the speech of angels,” by people the world over. In truth, nothing among the utterances allowed to humans is felt to be so divine.
Except for those suffering from acousticophobia or melophobia (fear of music), we have yet to hear someone violently dispute such description. On the other hand, there’s in our highland midst a continual interchange and greeting of accidents, keeping succession of times of music drawn in bright colors. In short, it allows us meddled joy to listen to music.
But here come two posers: do drivers, listening to music, find driving more fun? Do motorists who listen to music find their journey more fun?
Local observers having a chance to pour their delight on this topic agree on the first question find drivers driving pleasant for they directly control the panel of the dashboard, or where radio stations they prefer to set dials of the radio. “Nu anya klase a music ti kayat da a denggen, awan maaramid dagiti pasahero nu agmutaleng laengen,” says Noria Gabildan, from La Trinidad, Benguet.
For the second, observers aver, “It depends,” arguing the ears of the passenger-listeners decide whether music wafting from the dashboard suits the fancy of the hearer to make their journey fun. The driver’s choice of music may well contrast with the choice of passengers.
Which brings us, indeed, to the types of music. Music can be divided into genres in varying ways that identify pieces of music as belonging to asset of conventions or shared traditions. We have many, to mention a few: rock, hip-hop music, popular music, Jazz, blues, disco, Christian music, punk rock, instrumental, folk music, country music, Igorot songs, Ilokano song, Tagalog song, among others.
Short of saying, one man’s meat maybe another’s poison, Leah Hagedon, working as a teacher in one of the private schools in Baguio City but regularly commutes from the city to Atok, Benguet, thinks, “What may be music to one, can be noise to another, or vice-versa.” Or, what music of chaos, can be divine to others.
Surprising why music you like may not be the preference of another. The notion that music is solely entertainment or just aesthetic entertainment is a misguided conception. Science has proven that liking for a form of music might have to do more with the culture existing around us, or in short, culture in origin.
Psychologists teach that even infants tend to prefer music and sounds they are most familiar with. Personality factors come into play for preference of a certain form of music. Hence, personality is related to musical taste, but other individual differences are arguably related more closely.
“Consider,” Hagedon continues, “When I’m aboard a vehicle and country music, folk music, classical, Christian songs, folk music, blues or folk music is played by the driver, I know I can get home to Atok well rested.”
Hagedon further relates: “I knew of a driver who, in the middle of travel to Atok, plugged to punk or funk music and while on the road, drummed his fingers to the tempo that unnerved everybody listening.”
“One time, one of the passengers politely asked the driver to change the music but the driver responded by saying that if we don’t like his music, he can’t do anything,” Hagedon reveals. “Bastos ang ugali talaga,” she adds.
Music as stimulus and relaxation can be beneficial for both motorists and drivers. The challenge here, however, is, what kind to be played in a moving vehicle cramped by people with different responsiveness, different characters and different ears.
Regular runs, like driving to and from work, are automatic that music makes a difference particularly when traffic is heavy and waiting becomes tiresome to passengers that fray their nerves. The stimulus provided by music can improve physical reactions on boring or demanding road runs.
Driver Gostelo Paliwas, known as “Mang Kanor,” at Baguio-La Trinidad route, has no problem with what music he pipes out from his jeep as he fully understands the passenger psyche. To put it mildly, Mang kanor holds a proposition that proper music to the lending ears of passengers will bear them through rut, muddy roads, road not asphalted or not cemented as he pokes fun at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) or unconcerned officials for such problems.
“Ka-adwan ti aglugan Baguio-La Trinidad wenno vice-versa ket taga ditoy. Ket ammo tayo met nga ti taga ditoy, Cordilleran ka man wenno taga-baba mas vibes da agdengngeg ti country music, folk music, blues wenno instrumental. Adda met mang-kayat ti Tagalog, Igorot wenno Ilokano songs,” Mang Kanor reveals.
“Apay agpatugtog ka ti tokar ti lugan nu mariknam kagura a mangdengngeg. Masapol met a nga sensitibo tayo iti rikna dagiti pasahero,” Mang Kanor explains.
Another, Mecio Dayao, driving a van plying the lowland route and himself a lowlander, speaks volumes of times passengers would prefer listening to songs that sing the praise of God, struck-tones that are echoes of sphere harmonies and inspire him to drive carefully.
“Ti kina-agpaysu na, Sir, awan oras ko makimisa panggep trabahok nga drayber. Ta uray aldaw Domingo ket agpasada nak. Ngem nu request dagiti pasaheros nga agpakanta nak ti Christian songs, kasla nak met lang a nakimisa,” Dayao says.
Other drivers say on tougher and unaccustomed routes, music can have an opposite effect and may endanger a driver, whose attention is divided. Some happenings have happened to those accustomed to lowland roads or roads in Manila and have tried traversing the challenging Cordilleran routes and music distracting them.
Overall, however, experiences by many Cordilleran drivers reveal for themselves that listening to music while driving influences their behavior, reduces driver stress and positively impacts good mood. Many instances happen when they, chasing schedules for stopover meals for passengers and themselves, these drivers would switch on the radio, find a radio station airing soft music and latch on to it till they arrive at a road restaurant. It chases away bad mood growling at empty stomachs pervading among hungry passengers.
Still, another, Gino Altamiro, also driving a van, relates an incident that occurred when one aggressive truck driver challenged him to a fight down the road going to the lowlands. Now, it happened that time one among his passengers was a Philippine National Police (PNP) officer who hails from Cordillera and is assigned at Region 01.
When the aggressive truck driver alighted from the truck and strode towards the van while spitting rough language, the police officer calmly got out of the van, introduced himself and confronted the yelling truck driver, saying, “Sir, sika la ngaruden ti gistay mang-sideswipe daytoy van nga nakaluganan mi, sika pay ketdi ti adda rason na nga ag-karit. Ayna ti lesensyam?”
After citing the truck driver for violation and ticketing him, the stern but fair police officer advised the truck driver, saying, “Sir, nu adda man personal a problema yu a nakunam tattay, saan yu kuma ikuyog ditoy kalsada, ta ad-adda nga addu madangran. Nu adda man problema yu, mabalin met nga ag-luwalo ka, wenno agkanta-kanta ka wenno agdengngeg ka ti music habang agmanmaneho ka,” Altamiro relates.
And Altamiro adds, the truck driver sheepishly nodded to the police officer’s advice.
Cordilleran, lowlanders and others from the rest of the regions in the Philippines, have prized song and music as a vehicle for worship, prophesy, hope, enjoyment, entertainment and whatever in them are divine. Even one, who forsakes herself/himself, is wont to pour in a song in midst of adversity.
Well, the same goes true for drivers who find solace in a song, as the same goes true for passengers listening to a song. For music – to drivers and passengers, – begins where words leave off.
Hearing a song while traveling these smiles and tears of the month of May, isn’t a feeling far off, in your heart, what it was once to others, divine. To attempt to croon it, not knowing the words is possible, knowing it was once sung, with unspeakable reflection, what humans now sing.