Greased Pole Game:
This is a game in which a large pole of bamboo is erected, greased, and children take turns to attempt to climb this greased pole.
The informant described her experience playing this game on many different celebratory occasions. This game requires a bit more preparation, and is not necessarily one that children could just go outside and play themselves. The necessity of an adult presence to take all the necessary preparations made this a relatively special and much anticipated event. The informant highlighted one particular festival where this game would be played, every year in Abukay we would have this
sort of, 4th of July celebration, it was just an official fiesta to commemorate Abukay, there would be food and singing and dancing, a very catholic parade with all the nuns and accolades and everyone marching behind them with their veils over their heads and in there church dresses
but anyway, there was a bunch of different activities for the kids to run around and do. The Greased pole was among these activities. The informant said that on the day of the festival the pole would be already set up usually by the people of the small town. Once the pole is greased, it remains so for the entire day, allowing many groups and many children to have their turn throughout the day. The informant said that yes, occasionally kids would go up themselves or with just a couple other friends, but usually it was done in a more organized fashion. An adult would be there to chaperone, a group of kids would line up and take turns trying to get up the pole. Those waiting, and others who would crowd around only to watch would yelp and cheer each other on throughout the process.
This game is a very simple, and resourceful. It requires only a large bamboo pole and some kind of grease, typically animal lard, or now, the informant said that she thinks it is more common to use vegetable oil. Like many games, this one uses materials that are always readily available, it requires no theatrics, no expensive gear, it is simply an innocent, village game that is very challenging and appeals to all children and people regardless of social class. In the Philippines it is as universal as the children themselves, for this I think it is particularly important to treasure such activities especially in a region like the Philippines and even in the Village of Abukay themselves, where there is such disconnect between socio-economic class. This is simple enough to where if is ripe for variation, rules may be added or taken away at any given point and in any given area, it includes anyone and everyone and serves as a mode to bring otherwise separated groups together.
Folk game- tradition
A live pig is covered in grease. Children chase it around trying to catch it.
This is a variation on the Greased Pole. It is played interchangeably with the greased pole on all occasions. It too is a game that transcends the nation of the Philippines and can include children of all ages and regions. I imagine it is a variation played in rural regions more frequently than the pole, simply because a pole is typically more accessible than a pig. The informant described this as a very fun game, a chance to get dirty and, quite literally, act like a pig. She described that this would be done right inside the pigs pen, all the children would file in and flail about trying to grab and hold on to the pig. She told me about this just after tell me about the greased pole, often both these greasy games were offered simultaneously, as was the case on the Abukay Commemorative celebration.
A slightly more aggressive variation, this game must have been very much a special treat. It requires very few materials, simply pig, grease, and chaser. It makes use of items readily available in a Filipino and shows a resourcefulness that we see in many games. For example, throwing a ball through something is quite a simply concept that has led to fanatic industry and incomprehensible amounts of wealth. Perhaps in the future, greased pig catching will evolve into something of a more sophisticated game.
Cow, if you eat, hot will become of you
In Hinduism, the cow is considered a very sacred and revered creature, so much so that those who follow this belief also tend to follow a strictly vegetarian diet. Though in communities where those who follow this practice are mixed with those who do not, it is often useful to have a more simplified or at least practical justification for this practice. Particularly in the case of providing a more explanation to and between naïve and curious children, a biological reason that reinforces the religious reason are two forces which combine to be very persuading. The biological explanation is as follows: because it is very humid in India, meat in general, which conveniently for this belief system includes that of cows, very often goes rancid. Should one proceed to eat this bacteria infested meat, one will become sick with a fever. Thus, this little superstition is a perfect compliment to the Hindu belief, simply a different means to the same end.
The informant did mention he began to hear this more frequently when he moved from India to the United States, where the eating of cow was much more prevalent. In an environment where a childs practices at home are very different from those he or she experiences elsewhere in his daily life, the fear of sickness evoked by this superstition would quickly eliminate much of the initial curiosity by the child to indulge in what the activities that surround him.
Gae ggol jang ee
When we would go to sleep or something, my kmom would tell me a story and say, do you want me to tell a story about a frog who is similar to you? and we would say,
yes! and then she would tell us this story. Well this frog would never do what his mother told him to do. He would never take out his trash when his mom would tell him do, when she told him to do his homework, he would just go outside and play
um, ya know, he had a couple siblingswhich of course was my brother and they would always listen to their mom and grew up to be really successful but Gae ggol jang ee , the naughty one, would never do what he was told. Then one time, the mom was really sick. So she like knew she was going to die and so she gave each sibling a task, like what to do, when she died. To gae ggol jang ee, she knew he would not do what she wanted him to do so she told him to bury her by the river because she knew he would do the opposite .. instead of burying her on the hill or whatever
so she died
and he finally decided to obey her. and so the mud and the rain washed her a way and
thats why you should do what your mom says. ISNT THAT SAD!?
This is the informants mothers version of quite a common Korean tale. For this informant, it was told only as a bedtime story, or upon request, for another informant it was read in school, for another she memorized and rehearsed this tale to recite for her extracurricular Korean classes. After reading and hearing other versions of the tale, this variant is quite clearly pedagogically tailored by the informants mother to suit her particular purposes. For example the specificity of the taking out the trash chore, and the running outside to play rather than doing his homework, and the model older siblingthese seem to be very particular to this familys variation. In hindsight, the informant is able to clearly recognize herself as the frog and her brother as the model older sibling, but in her youth admitted that she wrote them off as mere coincidences.
This tale quite mercilessly poignant. The suggests the ultimatum, obey your mother, or she will wash away in the riverwhich seems a tad dramatic and deeply guilt-inducing, especially when compared to the fluffiness of American and western tales. In addition to highlighting the value of obedience, a complientary element is the respect for elders. The informant discussed the reality of these cultural values reflected in the tale by confirming that everything in her childhood for the honor and pride of her parents, to obey them, respect them and please them. Why do you think the Korean kids work so hard? Because theyre worried that if theyre parents DIE or something they wont be proud of them or theyll die thinking about what a shame you were!
I have attached a more formal version of the tale that can be found on this website:
Or in this book:
Suzanne Crowder Han, 1991, Korean Folk & Fairy Tales
And here is another, which I took from the PDF of what seems to be a standardized reading packet for elementary schools in a Washington State school district (I provided the text following the citation) :
Federal Way Public Schools, 2005, retrieved on April 24th, 2007, http://www.fwps.org/dept/ell/koreanstories.pdf
Chung Kayguri, the Green Frog
A long long time ago in a small Korean village, there lived a little green frog
called Chung Kayguri with his old widowed Mother. Chung Kayguri loved his mother,
but was a troublemaker. He always did the opposite of what his old mother told him to
do. When his mother told him to go east, he went west. When she told him to do this, he
Momma Kayguri said, Kaygul. Kaygul. (Ribbit. Ribbit.) It is very warm and
sunny today. Why dont you go outside and play in the stream with your friends?
Kaygul. Kaygul. So Chung Kayguri, instead of going with his friends to the stream,
went by himself to the hill.
The next day, Momma Kayguri said to her son, Stay close to home today. I
heard there might be some snakes out there. Instead of doing as his Momma asked,
Chung Kayguri went to his friends. Kaygul. Kaygul. Lets go for an adventure and
find some snakes.
This kind of behavior went on and on. It was very frustrating for Momma
Kayguri. Eventually, she became ill. Even then, Chung Kayguri didnt heed his mother.
She would ask him to speak softly, and do you know what he would do? Thats right, he
would yell loudly. Momma Kayguris health continued to decline. She became so ill
that she knew she would not recover.
Before she died, Momma Kayguri called her son to her bedside. When I die,
she pleaded, bury me by the stream. Please dont bury me in the hill. In fact, she
wanted to be buried in the hill. Knowing her son well, though, she requested the opposite
of her real wish.
Kaygul. Kaygul. Momma, please dont die. Kaygul. Kaygul. But it was too
late. Momma Kayguri passed away. Chung Kayguri was very sad and said to himself,
Kaygul. Kaygul. My mother got ill and died because I never listened to her. I will grant
her last wish. Chung Kayguri buried his mother by the stream, thinking he was finally
doing the right thing. Every day he came to her grave to pay his respects.
One summer day, a heavy rain called a monsoon arrived and continued for many
days. With all the rain, the stream began to flood and rose up to Momma Kayguris
grave. Chung Kayguri was worried that the rushing water would soon wash his mother
away. He cried aloud in a mournful call, Kaygul. Kaygul. Mother is going to wash
away! Mother is going to wash away! Kaygul. Kaygul.
Ever since then, that is why green frogs cry whenever it rains. That is why people
in Korea who do the opposite of what they are told are called Chung Kayguri.
Question: what do lesbians bring on a second date?
Answer: a U-haul.
The informant said she has both heard and told this joke on multiple occasions, by and among members of the Los Angeles gay and lesbian community. She also noted that, this is the kind of joke thats reeeaaaallly funny when everyones drunk.
The joke here is not a play on words. The incongruity is appropriate not by logic, but by being such an exaggerated stereotype. It is poking fun at the stereotype of women being over trusting, emotional and overly eager to commit, and therefore have a tendency to prematurely gauge the depth and seriousness of a relationship. According to this joke, lesbians are ready to move in after just having met their partner just one date prior.
This joke could easily be varied by replacing lesbians with women, and would still have a similar effect, but because the lesbian relationship is stereotypically seen all the more wrought with drama, jealousy and bitchiness simply because there are only women involved, the female stereotype is more exaggerated with the use of the lesbian demographic, and thus the humor is more exaggerated as well.
Nojor, loosely translated, the Devils eye
This is an act performed by elder women of the family to the children. The woman will simply take the hand of the child, and firmly bite the smallest finger to prevent Nojor.
The informant explained to me that the idea here is that someone will look at the perfect, angelic child and will therefore become resentful and jealous. Consequently, to protect the child from this curse, the mother or grandmother or other women of the family will bite the childs finger, cause the child to cry or somehow distort their face. The noise and facial distortion elicited from the child now make it imperfect, thus protecting it from the devils eye.
It is interesting how this is a demonstration of such a deep, ingrained superstition has actually become very ritualistic. While most superstitions are nothing more than a verbal warning, the mother, in this case, skips the warning all together and simply takes it upon herself to prevent the curse that is surely approaching.
This act may be performed on any occasion, but in particular, according to the informant, on occasions that would warrant jealousy of the child. For example, before the child is to perform or appear in front of a crowd in a any public display of talent or beauty. The informant recalled one instance, quite late in his life, when his mother bit his finger before he went to his highs school prom. You know, I can remember when my mom stopped doing it to me
yeah, there is a direct correlation between the time I stopped parting my hair on the side and the time she stopped biting me. Apparently for the informants mother, un-parted hair was enough imperfection so as to ward off evil on its own.
The cultural reflections of this act are dichotomous. On one hand there is a great deal of pride, I would indeed say arrogance that is shown by the older woman acknowledging that the child is worthy of jealousy; on the other hand it as if she is preventing the consequences of hubris in her own child. With her older wisdom, she indeed can recognize the angelic qualities of her child, but sill forbid them naively over-displaying them. Additionally, because this is such a common practice, from serfs to royal upper class, there is a cultural assumption that generally all children need protection from evil. Thus we see the sacredness of children in this culture.
I slept, and I dreamt that life was all joy. I woke, and saw that life was but service. I served, and discovered that service was joy.
When I sat down with my informant and began to describe folklore, and to encourage him in the right direction I asked if there was any game, riddle, or saying that was repeated to him as a child. Without hesitation he began to translate this short poem. The informant described the prevalence of this item among the folk group of the Bengali people, by emphasizing that every child learns this poem. Every Adult tells it at some point to every child they know. You have it in school, in your home
everywhere. He went on to tell me that it can be found, as in his own home, written and framed in his bathroom, on refrigerators, scratched into public benches.
Upon further discussion surrounding this poem, the informant was praising it as a perfect demonstration of Bengali socio-cultural values. In Bengali, we dont have a word for funny. My mother has no concept of a punch line. I couldnt think of a Bengali joke if I tried. But it doesnt mean we are unhappy. We are taught that we must find and work for our own joy ourselves, we dont have the quick, escapist kind of humor that Americans sometimes rely on too much to bring them joy. And thus, in a culture that produces a twenty one year old who can readily admit to an inability to tell a joke, this fantastic alternative finding joy and is repeated and put into action by the Bengali people.
So ingrained in the cultural and so integral are the values in describes, I believe this is the absolute statue of artistic communication among Bengali people, it so precisely articulates values which the entire culture shares, it is the answer to the search for happiness. The mere fact that it is values and pieces of wisdom like this which ultimately replace typical humor and ephemeral joy we see in American and other cultures.
Quack diddly o-so quack quack quack,
sing it, sam-a rico, rico rico rico
fa-lor-a fa-lor-a, fa-lor fa-lor fa-lor
One! Two! Three! Four!
Everyone sits in a circle with their hands held out two their sides, with their right had atop the left palm of the person sitting to their right. One person in the circle starts, and with their right had, claps the open palm of the person to their left. The claps continue to go around the circle until the song is over. On Four! the object is to avoid being clapped. The person who is about to be clapped must aniticipate this and move their palm away, while the person who is doing the clapping will try and be as fast as possible to hit their hand before they move it away. Whoever fails, moves into the center of the circlethis is called going into the potwhere they simply start up another mini circle and play simultaneously with the larger circle.
With two people, each person faces each other, each curling their right had into that of the other to make a joint fist. Each person holds there free left hand about eight inches away from their joint fist, and together alternate clapping the fist against each of their free hands. The escaping on the last count still applies.
This is a hand game played with anywhere between two or more people. The informant learned and played this game most frequently when she was a girl scout, but being so catchy it quickly transcended her elementary school
This is done both as a dance and as a game. Two people hold each end of two bamboo poles and beat the pole on the ground in repetitions of three. The first two beats are done with the poles apart, and on the third the poles are brought together. The dancer does series of foot movements to compliment the rhythmic beating of the poles. The most basic foot movement are as follows:
First beat: One hop on one foot in between the poles
Second beat: One hop, bring the second foot in to meet the first
Third beat: Jump back on to one foot, jumping back to the outside of the poles as they have now been brought together
The informant described this as quite a prevalent practice. It can be done as elaborately as possible, with women in costume balancing glasses with candles in them in their hands and on their head. Or one can find young girls and boys playing this at any given time of the day, more to resemble an American tradition of double dutch jump-roping. It can be played with one dancer, partners, or as many dancers as will fit across the poles.
The informant did not know the history of the dance, or was aware of any details as to its origin. With a bit of internet research, I found many versions of stories and places of origins, ranging from imitations by peasants of birds, to something involving field workers during Spanish colonization. I think that this discrepancy in itself emphasizes the significance of the practice itself, in isolation from whatever history it may have. Additionally, because this is such a widely practiced activity among all ages, regions and social groups, its accessibility lessens the necessity of an explanation. This is not a tradition that comes out only on special days or to commemorate some historically significant occurance, it does not require special training or practice (although there are obvious different degrees of complexity), it is something anyone on any day. It is a national game of the Philippines not because of historical significance, but is truly national because of ongoing popularity and accessibility by all.
Annotation: There is an encyclopedia Brittanica entry on Tinikling that can be found with the following link:
tinikling.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 26 Apr. 2007 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9072567>.
A university class that was taught in a lecture hall was taking a final. And all of the students handed in their test except for this one guy. When he finally finished his test he brought it up to the professor, but his professor told him he had taken too long on the exam and that he couldnt turn his test in. The student was really mad at first and argued with the professor to try and get him to accept his test. But the professor still wouldnt let him turn in the test, saying that it wasnt fair to other students who had finished their tests within the time limit. So the student asked the professor, Do you even know my name? and the professor replied, No. So the student stuffed his test in the middle of the stack of the other students exams and left. He passed the class.
My informant told this story in his Musicianship class that is full of students who were high school seniors. I was unable to ask him his personal thoughts on the legend. However I believe that it reflects how impersonal the experience at a large university can be. Professors often have class sizes that have over 200 students enrolled, especially in lower division general education or introductory level courses. For most students their professors in these large classes will not know them personally and wont be able to match their face with their name. The tone of this story also seems to be a bit negative. It basically says that in a large impersonal environment, like college can be, you can get away with a lot more because no one knows who you are anyway.