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Of stray dogs and loud karaoke singing

American expatriate Bud Brown uploaded to his YouTube channel a conversation with another American resident of Dumaguete City. Both had Filipino wives and were settled in typical communities.

“Let’s talk about what’s most annoying in our neighborhoods,” one said and, in a jiffy,  both readily identified two: proliferation of dogs and, aha, loud karaoke singing.

There’s a law that’s supposed to stem the issue of stray dogs with prevention of rabies infection as the apparent top objective. That’s good. Rabies leads to gruesome death. But the means to get the law obeyed is soft; it merely requires animal owners to get their pets vaccinated. There’s no provision to inspire rigid implementation nor pecuniary motivation to get pet owners or law implementers obeying.

The law author was then Sen. Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo to whom I  later casually broached the idea of amendments if not better implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to put sharp teeth to the pet mandate. Okay, she told me, draft it. Somehow, I never did.

But had my sublime streak been up then, I would have lashed negligent pet owners with cruel fines every time their animal is found roaming around the neighborhood. This, coupled with a provision that barangay tanods legally partake of a handsome slice of the monetary penalty. Of course, phone cameras would help ensure against abuses. 

As for loud karaoke singing, any law against it would be with my backing, heart and soul offered.  I live not far from Clark Freeport and SM Clark, in a neighborhood where assorted people — with assorted shades of souls — board and lodge for proximate access to jobs.

I know of a person,  with much respected reputation, who landed in jail after, woken from sleep late into the night, jumped from bed to shoot a neighbor dead for ear-piercing karaoke abandon. It’s beyond reasonable decency to grasp how someone in a residential neighborhood could posit his or her high-decibel caterwauling as talent for the wonderment of every household despite the need for peace deep past dusk.

Way back in 2018, the House of Reps committee on public safety and order entertained a bill filed by Quezon City Rep. Angelina Tan to limit karaoke and such noise in residential areas. Other similar bills had been presented for passage, but it remains for me a mystery why they never made it into being law, although some pointed out that noise pollution via karaoke is already covered by the Philippine Environmental Code (PD No. 1152) and the National Pollution Control Decree (PD No. 984).

The laments of Bud Brown and his compatriot, however, are clear testimony for a specific need to address endemic karaoke noise. 

A few years ago, with Congress unminding of karaoke blares, I urged the local government of Mabalacat, Pampanga where I live to pass a local anti-karaoke legislation. Nothing happened.

In a letter sent online to local lawmen, I pointed out that loud videoke also touches the sensitive nerve of health, as I cited common scientific  agreement that noise pollution affects both health and behavior. Scientists, I stressed, have no doubt that unwanted sound (noise) can damage psychological health and can cause hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects.

“Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life,”  I quoted a science journal as warning.

The flood of medical quotes I unleashed also cited experts concluding that “high noise levels can result in cardiovascular effects and exposure to moderately high levels during a single eight-hour period causes a statistical rise in blood pressure of five to ten points and an increase in stress, and vasoconstriction leading to the increased blood pressure noted above, as well as to increased incidence of coronary artery disease.”

If the quotes do not sound scientific enough to local lawmakers, I am eager to hear a list of reasons finding logic in late-night, high-decibel croaking in my neighborhood. Meanwhile, I just want to down my nightly medicines sans scandalous Tom Jones loudly seeking his Delilah.