Culture

Filipino kid’s bloodsport aka spider fighting – Part 2


Bamboo skewers or walis tingting (stick that comes from the midriff of a coconut leaf) serve as the battleground. The warriors are placed at both ends of the stick and gently pushed toward each other. The death match begins with both kids hoping their spider would be the one to live to fight again.

Just like any other game, spider derby has its rules. The spider that falls off three times loses. Best of all, but seldom happen, the one who can wrap its enemy in silk will be the champion. I don’t remember if the owner of the winning spider takes the loser’s spider as a bounty. This is true in cockfighting though.

Fights are normally short but intense and happen on backyards or the streets (for kids who grew up in the city like me). We start cheering as soon as both spiders slowly walk toward its opponent. We get supercharged when our fighters start to wrestle and bite. Sometimes, with clenched fists and our matchboxes on the other hand, we jump and scream on top of our lungs. I guess that’s why we’re more exhausted than our spiders after a bout.

I learned from my cousins that the best way to prepare your gladiator for battle is to starve it. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t especially if your spider lost just because it fell off the stick.

Spider fighting was so popular when I was a kid. I am not sure if the same is true today – only to those who live in the rural areas, maybe. Probably the appeal of spider fighting (along with other games such as patintero (hopscotch) or taguan (hide and seek) started to wane with the advent of ‘Game and Watch‘ which really started the era of computer gaming. Aided with the emergence of high-tech games courtesy of PS3, PSP, Xbox, Gameboy and Wii, traditional games like these are slowly fading away. The banning of the game might have affected its popularity as well.

I didn’t know that Japan is also big on spider fighting, or ’spider sumo’ as they call it. In fact, just recently the Japanese Association in Northern Luzon, Incorporated (JANL) organized a ‘Spider Sumo’ called Baguio Children’s Spider Fighting Contest, during the Baguio City’s centennial celebration. I wish they had this when I was still a wrestler-manager!

It’s almost summer time in the US and bugs are coming out as well. I’ve been seeing a lot of spiders lately. They remind me of my childhood days, when for a while I have the unbeatable gladiator, my own Black Widow. Glory days!

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