Sometime this weekend I read about a documentary film being worked on in the US about music and life in the big city. Over 80 regular joe's and jane's are going around town being filmed singing songs from Broadway musicals or jazz pieces in public areas like the subway, or around a park, or walking down the street. I am fuzzy on what the raison d'etre of this film is, but what it's turned out to be is not just a delivery on people singing in public, but how the public reacts to overt musical activity. For the most part, most people seem to be ignoring the activity. And the singers are asked how they feel before and after their performance. Most mentioned that it was awkward to sing in a "anonymous" public venue, and they felt conscious at the beginning. But it was the non-reaction of the rest of the people around them that made them feel worse. Is it perhaps the choice of music? Or is it the cold-hearted nature of urban living that puts a barrier between singer and the prospective audience?
This morning, while walking through a large business complex in Makati, I crossed paths with people who looked like they had gotten off their call center shift. And one of them burst into song (from a recently reviewed Broadway musical shown last month). Somehow in Manila, where police dance while working, or janitors sing to keep themselves from the doldrums, or secretaries sing along at work, it doesn't seem out of place. The fellow singing his ditty this morning wasn't strange. And he put a smile on this urban dweller's face.