Karaoke Singing in the Philippines (also called Videoke)

karaoke I’ve not only been a victim of bad karaoke singing for more than a decade, I’ve been an instigator at various family parties (mostly birthday parties). While there are more than enough karaoke bars in the downtown areas of most cities, people usually rent karaoke machines and do their singing outdoors in the rural and suburban areas. Not all the time, of course.

The Karaoke Invention

The first time I researched it, the information I found told me Karaoke was invented in the United States, not in Japan. A Japanese man supposedly coined the term. The specifics were later disputed, so I won’t be repeating any of it.

As far as I know, Filipinos invented the word “videoke”, which is a scoring system added to video karaoke. All the machines we’ve ever rented are set up for videoke.

Karaoke Machine Rentals and Specialty Microphones

The machines people rent are huge boxes containing a television, audio equipment and a control panel that resembles something you’d expect at a video game arcade. The speakers are included, but sometimes plugged in separately. A computer controls the song list and the video on the hard drive, which has thousands of sing-along songs.

My wife bought a “WOW Magic Sing” microphone in 2006. We still have it and it still works. It looks like any other microphone except that it has a control panel on one side. If you open it up, you’ll see places where song cartridges can be plugged in. The standard mikes have a limited number of songs included on the chip and the cartridges are a way to extend that number.

Filipino Karaoke Singing

I don’t have anything against people bringing out the karaoke machines and singing on special occasions. There are some things that bother me though.

Karaoke singing is usually reserved for special occasions. Filipinos, however, can create special occasions if they really want to sing. In those cases, it’s usually something they do to go along with heavy drinking sessions.


Nighttime is for sleeping, not for listening to others practice karaoke. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been kept awake by karaoke machines blaring in the neighborhood at all hours of the night because I lost count a long time ago. I can’t say that thoughtfulness and respect for the sleeping go hand in hand with talent, because it’s not always the case.

It’s going to change now that Rodrigo Duterte has been elected as the President of the Philippines. He’s served several terms as Mayor in Davao City (on the island of Mindanao) and established a karaoke curfew there. I’ll be extremely happy when it’s established in Olongapo City.

The most annoying thing is that a lot of people who have absolutely no singing talent can’t be helped by karaoke machines. Add excessive alcohol use to the mix and it gets even worse. Some people sing so badly that it actually hurts my ears. In fact, the men all start sounding alike (horrible) after a few hours of drinking.

I don’t know if my poor ears will be able to handle it if karaoke machines ever get as ubiquitous as regular televisions.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of talented singers mixed in with the untalented and I really enjoy listening to them during the daytime. I’ve been told that I have a lot of singing talent (singing in Tagalog vs. English, no less) but unfortunately, I need a few drinks in me to loosen up enough to enjoy myself.

Originally published on August 18, 2013 – Some information has been updated and corrected.

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