“Mga ate, kuya, magpa music lang mi kadiyot. Ayaw lang mo kahadlok kay dili mi mga kawatan. (Aunties and Uncles, we’ll just give you a little music for awhile. Don’t be afraid because we’re not thieves.)”
After their introduction, Jeffrey Purisima, 11, and his 9-year-old friend Guam Heyrosa start singing Christmas carols to passengers of the PUJ they board with hopes of getting coins for a Christmas gift.
Singing mostly Tagalog songs like “Sa Araw nga Pasko” and “Pasko na Naman”, they earn P150 to P200 daily from their caroling. They use flattened soft drink caps nailed on a piece of wood and utensils like spoons and forks as musical instruments.
“Amo bahinon among kita para naa mi ikapalit ug pagkaon (We divide our earnings so that we could buy food),” said Purisima.
The boys said that if they earn more they bring food home to their families in barangay Mambaling in Cebu City.
But with the amendment of the city’s anti-caroling ordinance which now prohibits caroling on city streets and on board public utility vehicles, both boys worry if they can still earn money.
“We hope they dont arrest us so that we can still earn money,” said Purisima in Cebuano.
The city council passed on final reading the amended ordinance during their Dec. 14 session.
The ordinance sponsored by Councilor Augustus Pe Jr. imposes a P500 fine or imprisonment or at most five days on those caught caroling on city streets and on PUJs.
An option is for the arrested violator to render eight hours of community service or any of the three penalties or upon discretion of the court.
Pe said he thought of amending the city’s caroling ordinance with the proliferation of young boys on city streets and those who go after PUJs to sing Christmas songs on passengers.
He said children may get hurt or even lose their lives if the practice wouldn’t be stopped.
“In order to avoid future accidents and prevent the immense pain it will bring to the children and their families, there is a need to regulate caroling per se,” said the ordinance.
Pe’s ordinance amends City Ordinance 1931 passed on March 2002, which declares as unlawful caroling done between 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and requires the carolers to secure a mayor’s permit.
The original draft of the amendatory ordinance sought to prohibit caroling on streets and PUJs during the Christmas season from the months of September to December.
But Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young told the Council during their Dec. 14 session that PUJ carolers proliferate on Cebu City streets the whole year round.
“Caroling at homes is part of tradition. What we should prohibit is caroling on the streets and on PUJs made the whole year round,” said Councilor Jose Daluz III.
They asked Pe to delete from his proposal the phrase “during the Christmas season” so that implementation of the ordinance wouldn’t be limited to the “ber” months.
They also asked Pe to omit the requirement for mayor’s permit.
Since the ordinance prohibits caroling on the streets, the activity should not be covered by a mayor’s permit.