Whisper to a Scream

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By Roberto P. Alabado III

Planning Perspectives

Thursday, February 13, 2014


THAT is the title of my favorite new wave song, I guess that speaks well of my age. But it also speaks loud of the growing sentiment of our citizens against noise pollution.

Walk in the downtown area and you always hear the noise of a typical urban area - the hustle and bustle of vehicles inching their way around, peddlers shouting the prices of their wares, and the constant chattering of people doing business in the streets. These I accept as normal noise of the streets. What I cannot stand is when they use mechanical means to amplify their sounds to try to get the attention of people who are still far away from their locations.

I remember once complaining about the loud music emanating from outdoor speakers of a burger fast food chain in Ilustre. Their loud music can be heard across the street and just imagine the volume if you are just passing outside their store. Why do they need to play loud music to attract people to their place? Don't they trust their large and bright signages to draw the crowd in? If I wanted to listen to their kind of music then I would just enter their store to enjoy the music but please do not force me to listen to your music if I am just a pedestrian.

Another case was when someone tried to establish an outdoor pub and restaurant near our house in Marfori Heights. How can they plan to put up an outdoor pub with live and loud music in the middle of a subdivision? Well, the zoning of their location was commercial upon my investigation but they were surrounded by residences so who should prevail? Of course the original zone - they can set up commercial activities as long as it is compatible with the ambiance of their surroundings. If they planned to set up an indoor pub with adequate sound proofing then the neighborhood would have even supported their enterprise. But alas they chose to have an outdoor pub so complaints poured in and they were never given a permit.

We now read in the local papers that there is now a proposed ordinance seeking to limit the noise pollution coming from videoke and bars. I have nothing against videoke and pubs as I enjoy listening to the music of local bands and local talents. What I am against is the senseless battle of videokes and pubs in some areas of the city which actually disturbs neighborhoods and even business. I recall the watering holes along Torres St a few years back where pubs were side by side, each with its own live band and all playing in full volume. I enjoyed the ice cold beers they served there but I just couldn't enjoy the music since it was just total chaos with all the bands each playing their genre of music simultaneously.

At night, our police are busy responding to calls from sleepy people complaining of banshees in their neighborhoods. I just could not understand why people can’t tone down the videoke in their houses when it's way past bedtime. Just because the source of the sound is within your property doesn't mean that you have the right to sing to your heart's content, the issue is the sound. If you think that it is your right to sing and make some noise, well your right ends within your property line. So you should ensure that you do not step on the rights of your neighbor to have a good night sleep by confining the sound within your property only. So tone down the volume, close all windows and sing your heart out.

Now that noise pollution is now brought to the forefront with the banning of the "bora-bora" mufflers and the loud stereos of jeepneys, it is now time to regulate the unwelcome noise emanating from videoke bars and other commercial establishments. Noise should be confined within the premises of their business and should not affect the neighboring stores and neighborhoods. Let us have fines and penalties to cover the administrative cost of the enforcing the law to stop the ruckus.

These days, my sister tells me that her mornings are filled with heavenly music coming from our neighbors. We have neighbors who play the piano and the violin and they fill the mornings and afternoons with classical music. I once listened to them play Ode to Joy while I was sitting in our garage.

A few years back, there was another house in the vicinity that was rented by a newcomer who always played loud music into the night. Our neighborhood complained about the loud music but it fell on deaf ears (sorry for the pun). We tried complaining to the police who then paid a visit to him but peace only lasted a few days before the ruckus started again. A week after that, some citizen decided to take direct action and silenced the noisy villain with a much louder noise - about a half a dozen bullets thudding on the gate of the noisy villain. After that, peace and quiet once more reigned in our neighborhood.

If it takes the force of the law to achieve some tranquility in our noisy city then add my voice of support to that.

rpalabado@gmail.com

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 13, 2014.

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