I’m getting quite the indoctrination in jeepney riding. After almost 4 months I’m not the pro that many natives are, but I’ve picked up a few tips and have continued trying new routes. At the rate I’m going I’ll be a seasoned veteran soon, whether that’s my intention or not.

A couple of days ago I experienced one of my most troubling rides yet. Not that it was dangerous, or that the driver was reckless (though he was), this concerned the music.

Rap music, christian music, pop music, country music, rock, the Philippine’s favorite hits (think – Making Love Out of Nothing at All, I Will Survive, Total Eclipse of the Heart, etc.), it’s like a different station every ride. That’s because most of these jeepneys and trikes are equipped with some kind of USB amp that feeds the various configuration of speakers in their vehicle. They just download whatever MP3s they wish onto their USB stick, and they have continuous, customized music. Unfortunately for the passengers it’s what the driver prefers, and not necessarily for the benefit of the passengers.

I’ve heard it all but the music I experienced the other day shocked me. Not that I haven’t heard some of it before, but the fact that it was playing in such an open, public setting was what troubled me. Even more shocking to me was that the older riders, male and female, and parents with young kids didn’t seem to notice or care. It is as though they are oblivious to it. It didn’t seem like they even heard it, though that wasn’t possible.

When I first got on the jeepney in my subdivision, I was one of the first to board. I noticed that the driver was playing rap, but it seemed pretty harmless, and I was even tapping my feet, as I was in a good mood. Usually I can’t stomach rap “music” at all, but maybe I am becoming oblivious and adjusted, too. No, that didn’t last long. As we continued through the subdivision picking up passengers, until the jeepney was completely full, I noticed the music getting nastier and nastier, emphasizing more and more hatred.

It got to the point that I was focused on the lyrics (not that you could avoid them at the volume it was playing), and I was astounded that anyone would play such mean, vulgar, senseless “music” in such a setting. Let me be clear, I’m not a prude by any means and I’ve certainly used many of the words myself before. This was WAY beyond that. I have no idea who the “artist” or “group” is, and I have no desire to find out. It’s not the point. I’m sure many of you have heard similar, but the graphic racial slurs, sexually abusiveness, and flippant talk of killing was more than I cared to listen to. Even still, it was the other passengers that baffled me.

This goes right to a trait that I’ve noticed within the Philippines that I feel has both good and bad connotations. Tolerance. The Philippine are a very tolerant group of people. They may have become so because they’ve had no choice, I can’t say, but I’m sure others can. I can just state without question that it’s night and day with the level of tolerance here versus the United States.

The lines in the banks that can exceed over an hour wait, the cutting in lines and pushing that is prevalent almost anywhere you go, the inconsistent requirements from government agencies, the poor customer service (or none at all) given at many businesses, the no return policies of most stores…. I could go on and on. The point, as I hope you see it, is that Pilipinos mostly accept the way things are, and at times tolerate things that border on the abusive.

I’m a newcomer and a visitor in this country, though I do have permanent residence. I don’t expect, or even intend to try to change anyone and/or the way things are done. That’s only good for frustration and anger. I believe there is a change coming to the country as the population of their youth is at an all time high. If they believe and see that they have the power to change the way some things are done, then they can make it happen. Possibly they will just accept as their parents before them have, the way things are. I’m sensing that will not be true, as I see something different in the youth that I’ve met.

I know some will read this and just say you Americans are so uptight and make a big deal out of everything. I can’t argue with that statement. There is a lot of truth in it. We are world class complainers. We could use a dose or two of tolerance. At the same time, maybe it is OK to look at things once in awhile and to say “some things are not right, and what can I do to make them better”? Each person has to decide what is and what is not worth their time and effort. The point is, while it may be a good idea to be more tolerant of many things and many people, you don’t have to accept something that is wrong. You must decide what wrong is.

Anyway, back to my jeepney ride. I didn’t have any intention of saying anything to the driver. I’m sure that would have gone nowhere, except bad. I was just hoping maybe one of the elder riders, or one of the parents would have spoken up and said “something”. I realized that wasn’t going to happen, but that was the feeling I was experiencing. Someone, please, just mention to the driver that the music is offensive.

I came away feeling that maybe the music wasn’t offensive to anyone but me, and that was the most disheartening feeling of all.

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