Residence: Seattle, WA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2007
Primary Language: Tagalog
Other Language(s): English
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.