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HONORING MY MOTHER: My quarantine playlist

Uraya mornings. If you could only choose one to use as your six o’clock alarm, which one of these three would it be? The loud chirping of birds atop the lush Blue Ternate wall by our window, the sing-song holler of hawkers in the street, or last but not the least, the old-fashioned but still equally-disturbing alarm clock app on your android?

Me? I am just so lucky, I have got all three. In that order even. Let’s see, the birds (I think there’s three kinds) always liven up our waking up, except of course when it is a rainy morning and they have to stay dry up in nearby trees perhaps or be somewhere else.

However, the average Disney version of birds chirping peacefully in the forest, is a far cry from the one that is constantly played (with reruns) at our house.

Here, expect that the first thing to leave your lips will be a grumpy “what the…?” snarl, as you are suddenly awakened from slumber. On several occasions I have done that. I have also stood up, looked out and investigated what was going on. At those times, I’ve watched in disbelief as a group of “bully” kingfishers ganged up on another, with all of them loudly screaming bloody murder. By our window, several minutes to six, punctual as a swiss watch, I just have to die. Reality bites.

My second set of alarmists, them roving peddlers, (or rather, the ambulant sellers, as they are officially called in technical gov lingo) makes me hesitant or ambivalent whether I could say that I like them or not. There is this part of me that views them primarily as invaders from Mars, encroaching into my private space. By always breaking through the silence of the early morn with their shrill cries demanding that you listen, and often during really bad wakey moments before coffee, I can say I honestly do not like them.

On the other hand, I can also appreciate the manner by which each has managed to creatively peddle their wares, especially through the years. They are actually musical in many ways, if one cared to listen. Their sing-song style, almost like rap sometimes, is the thing, and even during our singing years in Manila, I have admired their styles, if one could call it that.

There was this one guy who would call out “balut…balut…” in a high pitch, then follow it up about five seconds later with a low baritone “babeh”, imitative of Rico J. He had been a favorite alarm clock in our post gig mornings in Quiapo. Of course, there are also those who could narrate machine gun style all the wares that they are presently selling, be it hopia, mani, pepsi, blade, sinulid, panty, bra, nailcutter, candy, and whatever else. A capella rap and ageless.

My android’s alarm application is the last and most short-lived amongst the three, lasting only about three to five seconds past six o’clock. However, whenever it gets way beyond that duration, I would have to contend with the fourth and final wake up call, my mate’s reprimand, which could also be called the mother of all alarms. I am always just too aware that it never gets to that. Birds, peddling rousers and Asus, throw me all you’ve got, I can take it.

There you have it, the accumulated sounds of my quarantine. In many ways than one, they often merge to become more like a soundtrack really. So swell to at least look at it from that perspective, creating a movie atmosphere in this our individual moments of isolation.

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