I already know some Visayan songs, yet I did not much get what this old man was playing. I just knew it was also a Visayan song. I listened in and watched him bang those strips to create his music. The left hand even has two sticks! Hmm, while I did toss a coin into that small box on the left end of his instrument, I think I helped him a bit since my watching (and taking a video clip) attracted other passers by who in turn tossed coins to the box. His wife, equally old was just beside smiling at everyone and greeting them “Pit Senyor” or thanking them for the coins.
I asked who made the instrument and the wife pointed to the husband who is blind on both eyes. Husband added that the wife took charge of nailing the bamboo strips to the base as it would be hard for him to do being blind. I asked how he learned to play this instrument and he said he just kept practicing and testing every tune out on the keys until he could play a full song. This old man even allowed me to take a try and so I did! Tapping all the strips, I got a real do-re-mi on the last octave (smaller strips) but as I went to the bigger keys, they were not perfect “do-re-mi”s. I did not have to ask why and the old man said he needed the sharps and flats for playing Visayan songs. Hmm, I think I’d believe him on that!
I wish to see more (normal) people playing this kind of instrument. It has a nice crisp though ethereal sound reminiscent of the mountains and the music of our forebears.