Frank Sinatra's "My Way" was blared from the loudspeakers as Air Force One began to roll on the tarmac after then-outgoing President Donald Trump and his family departed from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after his four years in office. He left for a Florida trip to start his post-White House duties minutes before then-President-Elect Joe Biden was sworn into office.
The whole scene amused the CNN anchors who could not hold back their peals of laughter. Yahoo! describes the choice of song "on the nose," The Guardian calls it "painfully fitting," while Deadline names it "inevitable." Nevertheless, if Sinatra has his way, the music seemingly would not be linked with Trump at all, even if the former president used it before during his inaugural ball.
But Sinatra's 'My Way' did not only bring a four-year disaster to the United States of America. In the Philippines, the song brought a threefold tragedy of what the land of the free experienced in almost half a decade.
In the land of the morning, people sleep and wake up with karaoke. Every community in the country has an interactive entertainment machine that keeps them alive when the sun goes down until the sun goes up. However, the huge prevalence of public singing has led to some strange circumstances. Several people have ended up dead singing Frank Sinatra's 1968 hit.
Written by Paul Anka, the song is often associated with nostalgia for an individual's lifetime of events. While the song has been the most frequently played at funeral services in the United Kingdom since 2005, in the Philippines, when you sing "My Way" among drunkards, you might get killed.
There were probably around twelve "My Way" karaoke-related killings since 2002. One of the earliest and most well-documented of them happened in 2007. When the 29-year-old Romy Baligula was halfway singing his "My Way" rendition in a karaoke bar in San Mateo, Rizal, the 43-year-old security guard Robilito Ortega complained the first was off-key.
After Baligula ignored the latter's annoyance, Ortega immediately took his .38 caliber pistol and shot the singer in the chest. Baligula died right then and there, and Ortega was jailed by an off-duty policeman afterward.
As a result of the incident, the song was reportedly banned in many karaoke bars in the metropolis. Some may have liked the song before, but later on, stopped singing it after all the trouble, and if they do want to sing it, they must get a private room so that no one would be agitated with their off-tune vocals.
In 2018, partly due to the widespread killings, Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina Tan filed a bill seeking to limit the use of the sing-along equipment in a specific time in residential areas.
According to the lady legislator, “One major source of noise [in] residential areas in the country is caused by the use of videoke/karaoke systems. Everywhere in the Philippines, many local residents or groups are accustomed [to] utilizing public streets or roadsides to gain wider area for a private activity or function, often making use of videoke/karaoke systems, amplified audio devices sheltered on collapsible tents as a form of amusement, recreation or for a private audience," she added. Tan also cited several negative effects of noise such as hypertension, loss of efficiency at work, and reduced creativity and learning.”
"Hindi pa po kasama dito ang mga buhay na nasayang dahil sa pamatay na kantang 'My Way',” see added at a committee hearing.
Butch Albarracin, Center for Pop's owner, has linked the lyrics of the songs to the violence it brought to its unhappy listeners.
"'I did it my way.' It's so arrogant. The lyrics evoke feelings of pride and arrogance in the singer as if you're somebody when you're nobody. It covers up your failures. That's why it leads to fights," Albarracin said.
Meanwhile, former UP College of Mass Communication Dean Roland Tolentino regarded the song's "triumphalist" nature as a factor in the sequential incidents. According to Tolentino, "The Philippines is a very violent society, so karaoke only triggers what already exists here when certain social rules are broken."
Even Frank Sinatra himself came to hate the song. According to his daughter Tina, "That song stuck, and he couldn't get it off his shoe. He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent."
Flagged with many loose firearms, the Philippines has long submerged from all sorts of violence, from the political to the private. It only makes sense a five-peso-per-song karaoke can bring most of its people temporary happiness to forget life's struggles for a moment.
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