LIVING ALIVE By Dero Pedero
It's no secret that music and singing relate to man's health and well-being. Historically and internationally, music forms a part of the healing systems and rituals of many cultures. It has been observed that singers tend to live longer lives. Could it be because they have stronger breathing mechanisms strengthened by habitually holding longer breaths? Or that they express their emotions more and thus release much internal angst and tension?
We are a lucky people because almost every Filipino can sing. Lately, there has been a surge in singing mainly because of the karaoke craze and the natural, irrepressible human desire to get up on stage and be a star. Many baby boomers find much satisfaction joining friends, setting up bands, and having soirees. singing songs from the '50s onwards. I believe that a song a day keeps the doctor away. And indeed, a singing nation is a healthy nation. Here are what some top singing devotees have to say:
Chairman, Metro Manila Development Authority
Whenever I sing, I feel good. It is an emotional drain through which one can flush the stresses of the day. By nature, we have different emotions we want to express, and we can do this by singing. You can release negative emotions like anger, you can communicate your innermost feelings to others, and most of all, singing brings you in communion with yourself. I look forward to our singing sessions, which we hold at least twice a week. If I were not that busy, I would be a member of a band or musical group. Music keeps me young — it is the elixir of youth!
Secretary, Department of Energy
Before, to ask me to sing was really difficult. You had to physically carry me to the stage. However, when I reached the rank of general in the Armed Forces and I had a captive audience who seemed to applaud my singing for whatever reason, I started to enjoy singing. I learned that almost anybody can sing. What is important is that you can carry a tune, have a sense of timing, and that you can feel the song with the proper emotion. You must not only sing the melody; it is important to convey the message of the song. I do a lot of public speaking and appearances, and singing in public has helped me reinforce my confidence on stage. You can't sing well if at the time you are singing, you are unable to cast off your worries and emotional baggage. For people in high-pressure jobs almost nonstop, singing is extreme relief and supreme joy.
President, Manila Hotel
Of all stress-relieving activities, I enjoy singing the most because through songs, I am able to express myself. Singing is expressing. Furthermore, it is thoroughly relaxing and makes me forget the worries that plague my day. There are times when singing brings me a real high, transporting me to another level of consciousness.
Mayor, Marikina City (and wife of MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando)
Ever since I have known BF, he loved to sing. He had a weekly night out with his singing buddies, which was his stress reliever for the week. If he didn't get a chance to sing enough that night, he would sing in my ear in bed. Now, we continue to sing as a family one night a week and we have a good time. There is something about singing that makes you focus on your performance, tone, words, and expression; makes you forget your many problems; and takes you, if only for a brief moment, to a place that's carefree, beautiful, and all that we were meant to be — happy.
Lenny de Jesus
Professorial lecturer at UP (and best remembered as the iron lady of Malacañang during the Estrada regime)
My basic stress relief practice is to meditate twice a day for at least 20 minutes each time. I have resumed my yoga practice and started playing the piano again. I have also taken up the flute and the guitar and, of course, sing for fun. Music has definitely not only de-stressed me; it has enabled me to discover much more joy in life. While playing music, I get lost in the wonder of the sounds that uplift my spirits.
To manage stress, I keep a personal attitude that life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. I meditate regularly and practice tai chi, which I now teach. I believe that everything can be meditation if you are totally into what you are doing right here, now. I always try to be total, not necessarily perfect. As much as I can, I live totally from moment to moment. And I try not to take myself too seriously! Singing is a great stress reliever for me. It is like opening and emptying oneself, then, a silent state happens.
One evening, I had one of the greatest stress-relieving moments of my life singing one Beatle song after another with a live band. It brought back my youthful days, carefree and singing my heart out. I felt like some imaginary steam was being flushed out of my body system, like a cleansing process. Even simply listening to old music I grew up with gives me the kind of mental state one gets from yoga — relaxing and peaceful. Laughter, of course, is the universal medicine for stress. The real cure, I surmise, is the subject matter that we laugh about. Music and laughter, indeed, are the best stress relievers. And you don't pay any doctor!
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