Filipinos are loud…as in very loud. When they talk, they shout. When they laugh, they scream. And when they sing Karaoke, they make sure the whole neighbourhood can hear.
I am surrounded by loud sounds day and night: the people, the traffic, the nonstop music everywhere, the roosters, the dogs, the pigs, the sound of the aircon, the playing children, the chickens, the ice cream and bread-shop bicycles, and the list goes on and on.
Coming from probably the most silent country in the world, these wall of sounds hit me even from the beginning. Now, after 2 and a half months, I’m still not used to it. It seems the theme for basically any occasion here is: the louder the better.
There are moments where I try to escape to get some silent moment for myself at the beach or at home. It doesn’t take long when people come and start asking why I am sad and alone, while in fact, I enjoy having a moment of silence for myself, taking time for my own thoughts and take it all in.
The Finns are famous for being silent, no unnecessary words are spoken, so the stereotype goes. And also, they respect other peoples right to silence, so you would not hear loud music from neighbours, especially not in the middle of the night.
I am not here to judge. I do not find it offensive, I find it amusing and interesting how our cultures are so different; how every part of the world has its own rituals, cultures, and yes, sounds.
If you decide to live abroad, you have to be willing to make compromises. You have to learn to respect that country’s culture and their ways of doing certain things.
So, why the title “A moment of silence”?
I was just in a 7/11 store to take a short break and literally chill out with air con and chilled juice. While sitting there, I was wondering why does this feel different. I go to this place very often, but this time, it felt different. I was relaxed and watching the busy street of Bogo city center outside the window. The only company I had was the woman at the desk, the security guard, and a young woman wiping the floor.
And then it hit me: It was silent. No sounds, no music (usually they, as every other store, play loud music), people weren’t talking loud. Everybody was just minding their own business, lost in their own thoughts. I couldn’t believe it. These silent moments in public places are rare, so rare, that I was strangely entertained by the silence. And then five minutes later a group of school kids entered. They were shouting, laughing and, yes, singing inside the store. I almost took it as a relief…everything was back to normal 😉