Zambales kids playing cashew "kasoy" "Tanching"
From the Spanish period up to the time of my childhood in the 50s, children from barrios throughout the Philippine archipelago were usually not allowed to play before three in the afternoon so as not to disturb their parents taking their siestas, or they would be required to take a nap themselves. It was also because of the heat of the sun. Parents in barrio Salaza did not want their kids roaming the hot, dusty roads at midday lest they turn darker than they already were like the Aetas from Botolan. Neither were we allowed to play after the observance of Angelus at six o'clock in the evening, when the cool night air settled in. We might catch cold. Despite such constraints, however, we, barrio kids, would find creative ways to sneak out of our nipa huts and meet our playmates to play a game of buga under the shade of a mango tree in front of Tata Kalting Ponce's hut in Daya, or assemble at the bridge on the northern edge of the barrio abutting the Salaza Barrio School to go swimming in the river below. Wearing our birthday suits, we would jump off of the bridge, fingers holding the nostrils, and yelling "yahoo!" on the way down. (If Al Gore invented the internet, I think it's safe to say that we, Salaza kids, invented the expression, "Yahoo!")
From the river below, we would flash the victory sign at each passing Victory Liner busses rumbling on the creaky wooden bridge above. The more audacious among us would "flash" more than the victory sign at bemused passengers, usually, pretty young ladies on their way home to Masinloc from school in Iba, amid much laughter and cheering. Come to think of it now, there wasn't a heck of a lot to "flash", coming from a bunch of eight-year olds!
In such a tropical setting, Salaza barrio kids played many games no longer familiar to Filipino children today. Some of the main features of these games involved physical or mental exertions that were conducive to a good night=s sleep. However, the most impressive recollection that I still remember about these games and the kids who played them were the natural skills of some of my playmates like Kuleng, Beyo, Atod, and Ugsa. If, somehow, these guys who are my contemporaries are still around and have a way to access the internet today and read these lines, I'm sure they will smile remembering at how they used to beat Johnny, the "Manila Boy", in buga, tanching, tumbang preso and other games that required a great deal of manual dexterity and coordination. I was the "rich boy" from Manila, visiting Salaza on a school break. As a "Manila Boy", I was soft and bumbling, but because I was "lighter" in complexion, due in part to a pampered lifestyle in the city than most Salaza kids who were inured to the hard life in the barrio, the prettiest girls of Salaza Barrio School's fourth grade naturally gravitated towards me. A couple of pretty girls that I remember were named Emilia Altares and Erna Amores, but they, unfortunately, were both related to me. Still, there were flirtings going on. That's how small Salaza was. (To this day, I don't know why this is the case - Filipinos in general are averse to dark complexion, while the blonde and blue-eyed of the West try so hard to look dark).
Happy smiles from Palauig
During the rainy season, when the unripened bugnay fruit was abundant, we played war games, called giyera in the local dialect. We used salbatana as a weapon. The hard, unripened bugnay, the size of green peas, was the ammunition of choice. Salbatana is a blow-gun made of a freshly-cut bamboo tube about a foot long and is tapered at the end. By placing a handful of bugnays in your mouth, one can fire the blowgun in rapid-fire fashion resembling a machine gun. Woe to the kid who is slow on the draw.
There were other games that were less dangerous than giyera. One of the most popular was called buga. In buga, kasoy (cashew) seeds are placed within a circle on the ground. Each participant uses a larger kasoy, called a bato, selected to suit the physical convenience of the participant's mouth to strike at the collection of cashew seeds on the ground by forcibly blowing the bato from the mouth. From a standing start, the participant slides the bato in and out of his mouth, using his tongue and fingers, occasionally spitting out the dirt, like a baseball pitcher on the mound. With arms stretched out sideways for balance like the wings of an airplane, the participant leans forward and slowly advances toward the circle, pointing his mouth at the targets on the ground. With a hard stomp of his leading foot, he blows the seed out from his mouth with all the pent up air his lungs can muster, sending the bato like a projectile at the targets on the ground. The cashew seeds that are thrown out of the circle become the blower's property. Some of the seeds are later roasted over glowing embers of coconut husks and eaten with much relish under a mango tree. Others are saved for another game on another day.
Tanching is the son of buga. It is virtually the same game except that the bato is thrown by hand, not by the mouth. Into a circle drawn on the ground are placed one-centavo coins. Whatever can be stricken out of the circle by the bato when it is hurled belongs to the player's property. The bato used in this game is also a centavo coin. The bato itself, incidentally, may be the target of one's opponent instead of the coins within the circle, if the bato fails to get out of the circle after a strike. If one's bato is hit, everything in the circle becomes the property of the one who made the hit. The failure of one's bato to get out of the circle, or to make any coins go out of the circle, gives the opponent his turn.
MOTHER OF ALL GAMES
The mother of all games Salaza kids used to play, however, was called bosohan. The game is played with the unknowing participation of pretty ladies from the ili (Palauig) who arrive in Salaza by the busload every Saturday morning to do their laundry in the karayan. But, that's another story, folks.
Do you remember these nostalgic games of long ago?
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