Thursday, 1 May 2008


Last night Edson and I were invited by our friend Gino to see a dance production at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for which he had designed the set.

Cost: free admission. Cool. We can watch DVDs some other night.

It was to be a first performance and audience feedback was solicited. We were handed forms to complete and return after the performance. We were not handed a writing implement of any kind. Pricking our fingers for blood with which to write was deemed too messy. Stationery stores and their writing implements were too far away. So we folded the comment forms and tucked them in our pockets where they remained until we returned home.

Before we went home, we did watch the performance. So let's backtrack to that.

But first, let me show you our ticket stub.

For free admission, did we really need a ticket?

Well, I guess by counting them they know how many were in attendance.

And no, it wasn't Coppelia!

And while I guess it is good to find a use for leftover ticket stubs; I can't help but wonder how many were printed for that production of Coppelia. You'd think they would have run through them by now! I'm thinking someone sixteen years ago ordered way, way, WAY too many tickets, lost their job (or worse!) or it's been a while since the theatre had a good Spring cleaning (which would not surprise me, as there is no Spring in the Philippines!) and these were part of the treasure found when someone finally did clean the place.


The performance was basically a showcase of the variety of traditional ethnic dances and costumes of various regions of the Philippine archipelago. Some interpretive dance was also involved to portray the chaos of Manila traffic and the sea life of Boracay.

About three-quarters of the way through the performance the couple behind us were not so busy watching the show as they were yapping at each other. I had felt happy that the group of ten or more people who had amassed in front of and beside us before the show started had moved elsewhere just as it began as they were all loudly talking from one row to the other. Now we had two behind us who were busy yapping and giggling.

I'd hear, blah blah blah blah blah giggle blah blah

Then blah blah blah giggle blah blah giggle blah

Or blah giggle blah giggle blah blah giggle giggle

Then turn to blah giggle blah giggle blah giggle giggle giggle

The music was soft at this point and neither Edson or I could shut out their yapping, so I had to put on my teacher/disciplinarian persona not used in over ten years, turn to them and scold them for their rude, undisciplined behavior. I don't remember what I said exactly; but it had something to do with them conducting conversations outside the theatre during the performance.

They shut up.

I hadn't had to interrupt an inappropriate conversation like that since my days teaching English as a Second Language courses in Japan. Yes, even in Japan there are 'problem students'. The stereotype diligent, dutiful, overachieving, study-till-they-drop Japanese student is largely that, a stereotype. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble on that.

I was reminded of this (undisciplined behaviors) a bit on the way home tonight from one of our favorite restaurants in Glorietta, Aveneto. Edson mentioned that it was the undisciplined behavior of Filipinos that is the reason Ayala Avenue has a long fencing running along the entire length of sidewalk on both sides (save for a few breaks here and there for bus stops) and underpasses at all crosswalks. Without the fencing, people would be all over the streets, constantly being in the way of vehicles or being run over by them. Drivers are no better, forever ignoring basic traffic laws, crosswalks, lights, signs,'ve heard that from previous posts.

So there you have it. Jay the disciplinarian.

On the way home after the performance I kept wondering how weird it would feel having a foreigner be the one to have to correct your rude behavior in your own country.

But I did come to a conclusion: If they didn't like it I don't care. I shouldn't have to compromise my right to enjoy a performance because of their behavior, whether other Filipinos tolerate it or not. As far as I'm concerned I was as much the 'ugly American' and they were the 'ugly Filipinos'. And Edson and I, as well as those around us, got to enjoy the rest of the performance sans blah giggle giggle blah giggle....

1 comment:

Edik said...

i don't know if this undisciplined behaviour has become a part of filipino culture. i am filipino and i experienced almost always, in theaters and moviehouses, the uncultured trait of yapping and giggling including the standard coughing during important scenes by pinoys. it irritated me always and i scolded offenders everytime. but sometimes scolding everytime is no longer an option when you get used to the blah blah blahs during shows.