Daily Archives: 1 April 2005

The Old Betelnut Trick

In Tondo [a district of Manila in the Philippines], quite a few people raising fighting chicken, and it is their habit in the evening to take their fighting rooster out and gather around the street under the light where they talk and exchange experience how to raise fighting chicken. Sometimes a few of them would let their rooster fight, just like sparring (practice) and we kids use to gather around and watch the rooster fight.

One evening as usual this people are gather around sitting in circle petting their rooster while we kids, about six or seven of us, is standing outside the circle watching. Among the group there was an old man, oh, he’s about 70 years old and toothless, sitting among the group in the circle. This old man always chew nganga (bitternut [= betelnut] leaves with lime mix together). Well, he cannot chew it as it come, so he got a bamboo pipe about 12 inches long and about 1 and ½ inches wide, and he got a long chisel knife very sharp at the end. He would put the nut and leaves inside the pipe, and would crush it with the chisel knife, and when it is crushed, he would tap the pipe on his palm, put it in his mouth and chew it.

Well, this evening as usual, he was very talkative telling which rooster is good, which rooster should be a winner. Well, two of the rooster owner decide to let their rooster practice, let them fight without knife, so they step in the middle of the circle and let their rooster loose. One was white and the other was red in color. While the rooster were circling around poised to fight, this old man with the bamboo pipe pulled the chisel out of the pipe, point it to one of the rooster, and shouted, “Sa pula ako, sa pula, sa pula,” meaning, “I am for the red, for the red, for the red,” at the same time he was holding his pipe high by his side. One of the kid who was standing behind the old man, I notice he drop something inside the bamboo pipe. I was not far from this kid, so I saw it but the old man didn’t notice it. He was too busy watching the fighting chicken and keep shouting and cheering the red rooster. After a few moment the fellows pick up their rooster and the practice is over. So the old man resume his business, put his chisel in the bamboo pipe, and start crushing the nut and leaves while talking and laughing with the groups. While he was talking he tap his bamboo pipe in his palm, while he was saying, “I tell you that red is very good, I’ll bet on that red any time, that red is good,” and at the same time he put his nganga in his mouth and he says, “That red … phew, phew,” he says, “sa lintic sa lintic” (meaning, “The hell, the hell …”) and he start spitting his chew out. The fellows were surprise, and ask, “What happened man, what’s wrong?” “Sa lintic,” he says, “Sa lintic. Some body put lot chile pepper in my nganga. Sa lintic.” By that time we were already away from the old man. We were afraid he might start swinging with that sharp chisel and, instead, he stood up and start walking for home still mumbling, “Sa lintic, phew, sa lintic,” and when he is gone the fellows start laughing, some rolling on the ground, laughing like mad.

SOURCE: Tomorrow’s Memories: A Diary, 1924-1928, by Angeles Monrayo (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2003), pp. 208-209

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The Old Rock-into-Chair Trick

This is one of all the fun we were having in those days. Here is another one. In those days the Moro they are very popular. It use to be the story of Prince and Princess, the Christian Prince and the Princess against the Moro Royalties. They were shown in the local theatre and the actor and actress are pickup among the young woman and young man from the locale resident. This show was always sponsored by the Pampanga people and about 305 of the resident of our district are Pampanganian people, so that show was very popular in our district especially when the actor and actress were among the local resident. They always rehearse their act in the backyard of the group of nipa houses, which was very common in Tondo and those backyard mostly are good size, enough room for their act and quite a few people use to watch the rehearsal and that’s where we kids gather around and watch, usually in the evening.

One evening one of the rehearsal was in progress in one of that backyard of those group of nipa houses. You see, these houses are about six feet high on bamboo pole and no fence around it, so we kids, if we want to watch this practice, we just go through under the house to the backyard, and there they are shaking and dancing and doing their action like nobody’s business. (You see, most of them kids in those day if they are playing around they have only camiseta, no pants, no drawers, the lower half of the body is naked). The rehearsal continue about the life of the prince and the princess. So come the last act, they put a artificial rock on the middle of the yard and here come the princess walking slowly as if she is walking under the moonlite and a little while, here come the prince too and come toward the princess and express his love to her. The princess answered, “I cannot love you. You are a prince, yeah, but you have no ability at all. You have no power. Nothing at all.” And the prince says, “I have no power? Well, watch this.” He draw his sword and says, “Sa bisa itang encanto, maging silla itang bato,” meaning, “The strength of my power this rock become chair,” and sure enough, the rock split open, and come out a beautiful chair and the prince ask the princess to sit down on the chair. Soon as the princess was seated, here come a little kid from under the house, his lower half was naked. He was just a spectator like us. He was carrying a little paper bag, he walk right in the midle of the yard, and everybody was watching him then. He drop the paper bag on the ground and say, “Sa bisa itang encanto itang tackla manging puto,” meaning, “The strength of my power this shit become bread.” Soon as the prince heard this, he start chasing us with his sword. Believe me, did we move. We sure ran so fast we were hitting our head on the bamboo posts, but keep on running for dear life and everybody around there are all laughing like anything.

SOURCE: Tomorrow’s Memories: A Diary, 1924-1928, by Angeles Monrayo (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2003), pp. 209-210

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