While on commute yesterday morning, I came across this video:
It’s a video of me making a fool of myself singing live with a “band” (more like two guitarists and another vocalist) in front of some 30+ colleagues, as a farewell performance for our boss who was moving to another department. We had taken a popular song and changed the lyrics to suit him, hence all the laughter and cheers.
Now this was the sort of thing that we did all the time back in my former office in the Philippines. We liked to grab any opportunity to exercise our creative side by throwing surprises for all sorts of occasions, and when there are company events, you betcha there will be a performance competition of some sort.
And yes, I participated in my fair share of them, including that time I was coerced into auditioning for a rock star competition and that time I did a ballroom dance number in front of hundreds of people. I wasn’t a performer back in school at all, but I was forced out of my element.
No regrets, though, because I learned something each time. The first time I was forced to dance, for example, I was surprised when everyone asked me to be at the front and center, because apparently I had a talent for it. Who knew??
I remember there was one Christmas party some years ago which everyone complained was the most boring event ever because all we had were hired bands for entertainment. Our then newly-instated foreigner big boss had mistakenly thought that people would welcome the chance not to have to do any preparing for the event, just show up and have fun. He was wrong.
Filipinos relish all the hours spent practicing and preparing for these things, and for us there’s nothing more fun than watching people you know (especially big bosses) make fools of themselves break into a dance or song number on the floor.
This is not the case in my current office here in Singapore. One time during a social committee meeting, our leader, who is from Amsterdam, shared, “Someone told me that they had a singing competition in the Manila office last week! That’s amazing!” I nodded my head as I said, “That’s a normal thing to do in the Philippines. That’s what I’ve been trying to suggest here!”
I am part of the social committee, the group in charge of planning our office’s corporate events (like tomorrow’s masquerade ball). We are a pretty diverse group of people – locals and foreigners from different departments. When I first joined a couple of years ago, I tried to suggest competitions, Philippines-style, for our events, but everybody went, “Ummm… I don’t think people are gonna wanna join that.”
So our D&Ds, or dinner-and-dances, are just that, literally – dinners and dances, usually with a hired live band and DJ to play music. Which is great, really, but if you’re used to a different kind of entertainment, it will seem like something is missing.
You get used to it, eventually, but one rainy morning on your commute to work, you will come across a relic from your past life and feel a twinge of something that is quite like homesickness. And you know that you are happy where you are, but a part of you will always miss a little bit of something you left behind.