Microphone - Picture used for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Creative Commons

Dubai: We Filipinos love to party – and there are two things that have to be present to make our celebration complete: karaoke and boodle fight (or hotpot for some).

Singing and dining are quintessentially Pinoy culture. When in a party mood, a good meal should be followed not only by burping but also by belting out a favourite song or two.

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At a Filipino-Chinese restaurant recently, I saw one customer who, after putting down her chopsticks, soup spoon and consuming a sumptuous hotpot meal, headed for the mic; looked up at the TV screen and belted out Celine Dion’s ‘To Love You More’. She played up to the crowd – they loved her histrionics – and it did not matter if she could reach half the range as the popular Canadian singer, she just had to raise her voice at the top of her lungs to get a high score. (Videokes give out a score and the key, some say, is to sing loud to get nifty points).

Weeks earlier, at another popular Filipino hotspot, the restaurant did not only serve original and authentic regional dish, they also showcased a live band. Face mask down, the lead singer gave his own rendition of Journey’s popular anthem, ‘Don’t Stop Believin’. He did not stop there and handed out the mic to a customer who excitedly delivered his own version of ‘Buwan’ (Moon) by Juan Karlos Labajo.

Now that got me thinking. Restaurant owners claim they sanitise the mic after every song number. “The customers are also conscious to take precautionary measures against coronavirus (COVID-19),” one restaurant manager told me.

But is it really time to party?

We all know that the virus is spread through droplets. Doctors and medical researchers say the higher we raise our voice, the more we exert effort and therefore increase the chance of spreading droplets in the air. This is the reason why authorities advice against playing loud live music in eateries – to avoid raising of voices to decrease droplets and tiny aerosols staying aloft longer in the air.

When singing – mind you, one cannot be timid when he/ she has the mic – the louder you sing, the more particles you spread from the top of your lungs (pun intended).

Putting the mic down for a little while longer may be good idea. Live music can wait - there are other avenues to listen to our favourites. My recommendation: Tune in to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Sound of Silence’ with a firm resolve to follow safety protocols and don’t be petrified to listen to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’. Yes, let’s all be responsible – time after time and make no mistakes – so we can come through, and together we can sing Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ at the top of our lungs very soon.