Growing up in a family with mostly male cousins, both on my father and mother side, was equally challenging and interesting. I wasn’t treated special just ‘coz I’m a girl. I had to be one of the boys to be able to join their games and activities, including spider fighting.
Spider fighting is a popular bloodsport for Filipino children. I used to go with my cousins to hunt for our would be prized gladiators either under the bushes, dark corners of the house, ceilings or if you have the money you can simply buy them from a bigger kid. Selecting a fighter depends mostly on each kid’s preferences. To me, if it looks mean enough I keep it. If I don’t feel like it’s going to be a winner I let it free. I also like spiders with a big abdomen.
My spiders are housed in a small matchbox divided into either four or six compartments. Houseflies, mosquitoes or any other small insects make up for their meal. Sometimes I would volunteer to swap flies in the house and purposely leave the front door open so I can find food for my gladiators while making my mom happy for helping her keep the house clean.
If another kid challenges one of my spiders and is kind enough to let me see and match his fighter my decision on ‘who’ to pick would again depend on how the challenger’s spider looks. Most of the time, the fight is announced among other kids, so there would be spectators – makes the game more exciting with cheering crowd. Expect them to take sides based on friendship and blood relations. Some kids play with money involved. I didn’t. I wasn’t allowed.
My best fighter was a black spider. I gave it special treatment and has its own matchbox. I call it the Black Widow. Well, all kids call their black spiders Black Widow and if you have one it makes you feel superior among your peers. It gives you the feeling everyone’s scared of you. You have the fiercest spider, that’s why!
I take pride with my spiders. I keep my matchboxes with me wherever I go. If my spider wins, I can’t stop talking about how it devoured its opponent.
On losing? Let’s talk about that later.