Games

Cock-fighting is the great Filipino pastime for Sundays and holidays, and every little township has its tupada or cockpit, which attracts crowds of spectators. In these combatants the local peasants bring the precious cocks that are given the best care until near age of two years old. The arena, 2 metres square, is surrounded by banks from which the spectators make their bets in sign language to the bookmakers (kristos); nothing is written down, the practised eye of the kristos recording the name of the punter and the amount of the bet without further ado. The fights are arranged by agreement between two owners in an annexe (ulutan) where the cocks are weighed and their spurs are fitted. The result of the fight, which seldom lasts more than three minutes, depends on the angle and height at which the spurs are fixed. The cocks are classified into carefully defined categories on the basis of their plumage and height.

Another gambling game which is very popular with the middle classes in the Philippines is mahjongg. Mahjongg is a game for four players. It involves skill, strategy, calculation as well as luck. The object of the game is to collect sets of tiles according to the number and type shown on the face of each tile. The game can go on for several hours at a time, and large sums are staked on the result.

Also popular are lotteries and sungka, a traditional Filipino game played by two protagonists. The object of the game is to amass stones or shells in the home base (bahay) by moving the small shells around the 14 holes. Another game which visitors will often see being played at street corners is dama, a simplified form of draughts board in which the uncrowned pieces (men) are usually bottle caps. Then, for more skilled players there is jai-alai, a game like the Basque pelota, played with a short-handled racquet in a court with two walls; the rules are closer to squash than tennis.

Children play a kind of hopscotch (piko) in the street, and are also fond of basketball, usually played in the square in front of the church. Another popular children’s game is sipa, this is a version of Sepak Takraw in which metal washer covered with cloth, gets kicked. Points are scored based on the number of kicks without the ball touching the ground.

Finally the Filipinos have their own martial arts known as arnis, the art incorporate empty handed fighting as well as techniques with a variety of weapons specializing in short sticks and knife techniques.