Friday, July 24, 2009


I’ve been a member of a choir of the Church of our Lady of the Assumption here in Brunei for one year and three months now. But last night, upon receiving praises on my singing prowess, I came to ponder how being a part of the choir has helped me to not only develop my skills in singing but also has made me become selfless.

To elaborate, here are the TOP 10 REASONS why I love being a part of a choir.

FRIENDSHIPS. When I first arrived in Brunei, I had no friends. Apart from making bonds with my officemates/housemates, thanks to being a part of a group like a choir, I was able to make a lot of friends of different ages – from the physically young to the young at heart!

FILIPINO BOND. Most of the members of our choir are Filipinos. Thanks to that because it helps me to at least find “HOME” even in a foreign land. I get to talk in Filipino, laugh at Pinoy humor, sympathize with depressing overseas news, and even share comments on political or economic issues being thrown on free time before rehearsals. Seriously, being with a Filipino group reminds me of my roots which one should never forget and be proud of!

FOREIGN GROUP. Attending the choir on Friday rehearsals and on Sundays is like seeing a bunch of individuals tagged like “United Colours of Benetton.” Because of the multi-racial and multicultural nature of the group, I get to mingle with an Indian, a Chinese, a Malay and even with an Irish to know more about their country, culture and traditions. And seriously, being with them gives me a different kick to not only show what a Filipino is made of, but more importantly, to feel that in God’s eyes, we are all equal. On top of that, these people have become an integral part of my life especially in understanding differences and respecting views of the world.

FREE FOOD/ PARTIES. I’m not a fan of gatherings or sudden “tambays” especially if I’m new in a group. Believe me or not, I’m a shy type. In fact, it takes “three” invitations for me to come to an event or lakwatsa. But being with the choir which is packed with generous people, I get to experience “FREE FOOD” invites most of the time. Yes. Especially on Friday rehearsals, if a Filipino celebrates his/her birthday, expect some snacks and drinks. And seriously, with the Filipino’s kakulitan, you can’t say “NO” for an answer. On top of that, I had my share of Christmas parties in an Islamic country because of being a part of the choir. The food was awesome! Well, count those as reasons why I gained weight in Brunei.

HELPING HAND. My choir mates have always had a helping hand. They are very willing to reach out to the needy and in hard times. This is tried and tested on a lot of instances. When I was a newbie and I don’t know to drive, some of my choir mates would offer me a ride going to the rehearsals and sending me home. They would even text me if I need a ride. Relatively, after a news spread in the group that I was sick for weeks, a choir mate offered me to bring me to a clinic which is known for its best “Orang Puti” (White) doctor. I accepted the offer. Soon, I got well.

INSPIRATION. They say that inspiration comes on the things we’re passionate about. Truth be told, my passion on singing has been a moving factor for me to find inspiration in being a part of a chorale. It’s the inspiration to learn new songs, share to people, sing with all my heart and let that voice be heard and reach everyone’s heart. In fact, last night, my choir told me, whenever I sing, he always gets the “goosebumps.” He even asked me how I do that. My answer, yes I’m so flattered, but seriously, I don’t know. Maybe, I just sing from the heart.

SERVICE. Back in the Philippines, my friends could testify that I am very active in chorale. Growing up, I was an active boy in the school’s Glee Club. I also became a part of our Highschool Choir. IN college, I passed Concert Chorus but I didn’t pursue it because I was afraid that I won’t be able to concentrate on my studies. And so as an option, I just focused my likeness on choir singing at our Church in which I had been a part since I was 9 years old. With these experiences, I have always thought that being a part of a choir is a service and commitment. And I always love the feeling of touching other people’s lives with my gift on singing. It’s just so fulfilling.

COPING HOMESICKNESS. As we all know, for an OWF/Expat, homesickness is the greatest battle one must strongly cope up with. Thankfully, because of my active participation in the choir, I have toppled down homesickness. Learning new songs on weekends and singing on Sundays totally warded off such longing. The feeling is like, once a melody comes out of my voice, it’s as if my family and friends are a part of the sea of people observing the mass.

PRACTICAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENT. If you really want to develop your talent in singing, I seriously suggest that you join a choir at a very young age. It’s so practical because you don’t have to pay a training fee. All you need is your commitment on rehearsals and attending masses, plus your willingness to learn. Trust me, that’s my greatest armor in developing my gift in singing. Being a part of such group has made me harness my voice, compose my confidence and be more responsible on dealing with pressure and embracing diversity.

GOD’S LOVE. I’ve always put God as the center of my life. And seriously, the realization of my God’s presence in my life doesn’t only transgress on the blessings I and my family and friends receive, but it also manifests on how such group has helped to feel happy and contented with my life right now. Truthfully, my choir has taught me a lot of things. It’s not only making friends and embrace diversity, but it has inspired me to serve God more despite all the challenges that may come along in my life! Seriously, after each church service, I feel very light and positive.

Wish me luck people. Being a church soloist for a year and three months now, I was picked to sing Ryan Cayabyab’s Ave Maria in an upcoming special mass. I hope I can give justice to the song. To God be the Glory!

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