Kwento Kwentuhan

Karaoke on Maui

Liza A Pierce of “A Maui Blog”

As I sit down to write about one of the most cherished modern traditions among Filipinos, I cannot help but feel a surge of nostalgia wash over me as I remember some of my favorite songs while growing up in the Philippines. Karaoke is more than just singing along to favorite tunes; it is a cultural phenomenon embodying the spirits of joy, camaraderie and passion deeply ingrained in our Filipino soul.

In the Philippines, where gatherings are incomplete without the sound of music filling the air, karaoke became an integral part of our culture. This love for fun gatherings with music such as karaoke is also an obvious part of the culture of Filipinos living here on Maui.

From birthdays to reunions, weddings to simple weekend get-togethers, the karaoke machine is often the centerpiece of Pinoy celebrations. It is not just about showcasing vocal prowess; it is about creating lasting memories and forging bonds transcending generations.

Singing karaoke during Balai Pata’s First Friday events is fun … it brings much needed outlet for laughter, joy and celebration.
Photo courtesy of Balai Pata

What sets Filipinos apart when it comes to karaoke is not just our love for singing but the sheer exuberance and fervor with which we embrace it. Have you heard a Filipino sing “My Way” during a karaoke party? Oh, so full of passion in his or her expression!

It is not uncommon to witness even the shyest individuals transform into confident performers once they hold the microphone in their hands. There is something about the hypnotic glow of the screen, the pulsating rhythm of the music and the supportive cheers of family and friends igniting a fire within us, urging us to unleash our inner diva or rock star.

Karaoke is more than just entertainment; it is now a form of self-expression deeply rooted in our cultural identity. For many of us Filipinos, singing is a way to convey emotions words alone cannot capture. Whether it is belting out power ballads to express heartache or crooning love songs to profess affection, karaoke provides a platform for us to share our joys and sorrows, hopes and dreams, with those closest to us.

What makes karaoke truly special is its ability to bridge generation gaps and foster a sense of belonging within the Filipino community. It is common to see grandparents dueting with grandchildren or cousins engaging in friendly sing-offs, each taking turns to showcase their vocal prowess. In a world which often feels fragmented and divided, karaoke serves as a unifying force, bringing people of all ages together in harmony.

Beyond its social and cultural significance, karaoke may also serve as a form of escapism for many Filipinos living on Maui, offering a brief respite from the challenges of daily life. Karaoke provides a much-needed outlet for laughter, joy and celebration. For a few precious moments, all worries are set aside as we lose ourselves in the music, finding solace in the familiar melodies that have accompanied us through life’s ups and downs.

As I reflect on karaoke’s role in shaping our Filipino identity here on Maui, I am reminded of its enduring legacy as a symbol of resilience, creativity and unity. Whether performed in the confines of a family living room or on the grand stage of a karaoke bar, the spirit of karaoke lives on in the hearts and voices of Filipinos here on Maui, serving as a testament to the enduring power of music to unite, uplift and inspire.

Anna Sable Matsui is shown here enjoying the karaoke during Balai Pata’s latest Filipino First Friday event.
Photo courtesy of Balai PataPhoto courtesy of Balai Pata

Filipino First Fridays at Balai Pata

What inspired me to talk story about the significance of karaoke in the Filipino culture here on Maui, are the wonderful reviews and stories I have been hearing about the “Filipino First Fridays at Balai Pata.” If you have not heard about it yet, every First Friday of the month, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., Balai Pata by Joey Macadangdang hosts a Filipino Night. This gathering offers a chance for karaoke singing, a taste of Filipino Street Food and it is a BYOB party.

It started in January 2024 and the first four months were a blast! Have you attended any of their previous four karaoke parties? If you have not and want to see some video clips of these gatherings, go to Balai Pataʻs Instagram Story Highlights @balaipata.

The gathering is open to everyone. Letʻs go, bring a friend and letʻs experience the fun the Filipino karaoke party brings!

(And if you want to win $500, do not forget the Barrio Fiesta Voice contest during the 55th Annual Barrio Fiesta® on Friday, May 24 at 8:30 p.m. at Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center.)

Liza Pierce of A Maui Blog is an Interactive Media enthusiast. She started blogging in 2006 and she loves talking story online and spreading aloha around the world. She’s been living on Maui since 1994 and considers Maui her home. A wife, a mother, a friend … and so much more. She loves Jesus; Maui Sunsets Catcher; Crazy About Rainbow; End Alzheimer’s Advocate. Her life is full and exciting here on the island of Maui. Liza is currently the Digital Media Specialist with Hawai‘i Life Real Estate Brokers. She is the author of the book Maui 2021 and Beyond.