Last month, I was on a tropical island in the north of Cebu, Philippines. It is called Bantayan.
It is one of those original laid-back islands. Guys in shorts riding bicycle taxis. Children running around on flip flops. Palm Trees.
And here… I learned about a shocking urban myth…
But I am getting ahead of myself. It started as you would expect.
During the day, we went with a group of friends on a typical Filipino catamaran boat to a remote beach called Virgin Island. We snorkelled, we had a barbecue with fresh fish and I finally learned how to cut a mango.
At night we sneaked onto the beach. The ocean was filled with illuminating plankton that lighted up when we splashed around like children. The palm trees gently waved at us.
The bright starry sky approved…
…One night, we wanted to go out…
But the entire island was covered in darkness. The electricity had broken down. You ever had that?
I grabbed my flash light and we walked into the dark…
In the centre of town a small restaurant was still open. Candles were their only source of light. Fishing nets on the wall. A detailed model of a three masted ship on display. It was very cosy.
I would even go as far as calling it …romantic…
We had a -very fine- dinner (I had fresh sea food paella).
Suddenly the electricity popped back on. And with it the flashing disco lights and a karaoke machine. And immediately a Filipina girl starts screaming off tune tearjerkers into the microphone.
Wow! You didn’t see that coming, huh…
But it was fun and after a few beers it was my turn. I chose Frank Sinatra. My way.
And oh my, did I poor my heart and soul into that song.
And I did really well.
At least, I got a good mark from the machine. And a drunk English family cheered.
Then again, they cheered for everything.
The next day we told our Filipino friends about our experience.
And that I had sang my way.
“Nooooo. You should not do that. You can get killed!”
“I you sing my way, you’ll get killed.”
And it wasn’t just them.
Every time I brought it up people said the same.
Wondering where they were aiming at?
I did a bit of research.
Apparently, a couple of years ago there was a series of incidents were people were getting killed while singing my way in karaoke bars.
One theory why it happened is that it is such a popular song that people would fight about who could sing it. Others say that the song is so bombastic that it unleashes a lot of emotions and grievances under drunk short fused Filipino men.
It was national news and karaoke bars started banning the songs. It kept going on and the story made it to major Western newspapers like the New York Times and the Guardian.
There is even a Wikipedia page called “My Way Killings”. It gives this example:
“On May 29, 2007, a 29-year-old karaoke singer of “My Way” at a bar in San Mateo, Rizal, was shot dead as he sang the tune, allegedly by the bar’s security guard, who was arrested after the incident. According to reports, the guard complained that the young man’s rendition was off-key, and when the victim refused to stop singing, the guard pulled out a .38-caliber pistol and shot the man dead.”
Am I the only one who is laughing when reading this? (Freak!)
Luckily, I am still alive (I should get a T-shirt).
Although it has something poetic.
Beats dying alone in some old pensioner home in your own faeces.
It is as close as you could come to a memorable end in our urbanized whatsapped world. Not like the old days when you could walk into the woods and wrestle it out with a gigantic bear. Like “Legends Of The Falls” (great movie).
So expect me to return to the Philippines in my final days.
An old wrinkly turd frequenting karaoke bars. I might even find a young girl that REALLY loves me.
And during my final night, I will stand up and waddle to the middle of the room.
I will straighten my back. Throw away my stick. Wipe the dust of my Hawaii shirt. And look at the karaoke machine with watery eyes.
The music starts playing. And I will sing My Way. Perfectly on tune. Tears drip down my face when I take my final breath…
Myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (BANG).
I grab my stomach. Gasping for air. Collapsing to the ground.
Before I die I will see the images of a life well lived –flashing– before my eyes.
…And that will be it…
The last the world will see of me is a paragraph on Wikipedia.
And a smile on my face…
Stay frosty and start spreading the news…
I did it My Way
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