(Un)common Sense by James Veloso
(Un)Common Sense

Noise Pollution

Feb 2, 2023, 11:50 PM
James Veloso

James Veloso


"Dito sa Pilipinas, hindi masyado binibigyang pansin ang noise pollution, no? Like ingay ng tambucho ng motor na feeling big bike, asong tahol ng tahol at madaling araw na karaoke ng mga lasing, etc. Concern [sic] lang ako sa mga pagod sa trabaho na hirap makakuha ng tulog, esp. mga WFH." - Princess Rabulan Iñosa, netizen, on Facebook

Picture this: you’re either a call center agent working from home on the night shift, or a mother trying to make your baby go to sleep, or an ordinary employee relaxing at the end of a tiresome day at work.

All of a sudden, the peace and quiet in your neighborhood gets disturbed — either by motorcycle riders taking advantage of the lull of the roads to power up, or the neighbor belting out loud in a karaoke machine with the noise reaching up to the next block, or even a “rambol” perpetuated by random youths in the neighborhood.


Let’s face it, we Filipinos are being bamboozled with noise — whether we are commuting, or at work, or at a crowded marketplace or restaurant, and sometimes even inside the privacy of our homes.

You can’t even eat in peace at a restaurant or carinderia without a group of boisterous eaters acting as if they own the place, or even sleep on your commute without someone talking too loudly on their phones that you know their life story by the time you get off the bus.

Metro Manila has become one big “noisy” neighborhood, with the noise levels exceeding the standards recommended by authorities.

A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021 showed that noise levels in Metro Manila averages 99.3 decibels (the standard measurement of noise), way above the ASEAN average of 83 decibels and the 30 decibels recommended during the night for a “sleep of good quality.”

No wonder many of us are always frazzled nowadays — imagine enduring heavy traffic, a hellish commute and stresses at work during the day, only to stay up all night due to that drunk “sintunado” singer belting out his blues on the karaoke!

Take note, too, that according to the WHO, prolonged exposure to 70 decibels of noise “may induce hearing impairments.”


The problem with neighborhood noise is that it has already impacted the work of those who have opted to “work from home” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With many restrictions on gatherings already relaxed in past months, those who have decided to work at home to escape the hassles of commuting now have to contend with the excessive noise in their neighborhood.

What’s worse is that there is currently no national law against noise pollution in the Philippines, although many local government units here in Laguna province have enacted ordinances against noisemakers — particularly karaoke machines and loud “mufflers” in motorcycles.


A former college classmate of mine noted that unfortunately, Filipinos seemed to have “normalized” noise as part and parcel of our daily lives.

“Feeling ko kaya hindi na natin to napapansin is because naging norm na siya and parang naging part na ng lifestyle/tradition natin. Given na rin siguro na may rooted belief na kapag mas maingay, mas maswerte, eh hindi na natin to iniinda,” he commented on my Facebook page.

My response to that? Welp.

If that superstition of noise being a bringer of good luck — an apparent Chinese import that Filipinos have adopted, especially during New Year’s Eve —is true, the Philippines should’ve been a First World country by now.

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