I was 17 years old when I left Bangued, but before I leave it behind, I would like to recall some unforgettable experiences in my birthplace.
My father and mother were uneducated and did not go to school. They learned how to read and write the local Ilocano dialect from their parents. They could not multiply, divide, or do simple arithmetic except add and subtract using their fingers or match sticks or pebbles.
Their only recreation was playing the SUNGKA. It was a piece of wood with big holes on both ends and six small holes side by side. (illustrative drawing)
It started by both players facing each other and placing seven shells or pebbles in each small hole. When the game started, both players tried as fast as they could to pick up from each small hole as many shells as there were and deposit them towards the left, one by one, in each adjacent hole. After the shells were exhausted, each player again scooped up all the shells at the last hole, where the last shell was dropped except when the last shell was dropped in the left big hole.
The idea was to deposit as many shells as you could in the big left hole, which was your goal.
When the last shell ended in an empty hole, the player stopped and let the other continue until his last shell also ended up in an empty hole. Both players deposited shells only in their respective goal hole as they dropped the shells in their hands around their side of the holes, inside their goal and up to the other small holes opposite their holes, but not into the goal hole of his opponent. The one who ended up with no more shells to deposit was the loser. If he ended up in an empty hole with a hole opposite that has shells, he got those shells and continued depositing them one by one until he ended up in an empty hole and without any shells in the opposite hole. When both players could no longer continue dropping down shells in the holes, they could continue playing by simultaneously picking up shells from holes on their side and dropping them around the holes until they ended up again.
When there were no more shells in the small holes to pick up, the players could decide to continue by agreeing how many shells they would like to deposit from their good hole. When there were no more shells enough to put in the small holes on the player’s side, that player lost the shells to his opponent and also lost the game.
It was then an interesting pastime for people who had nothing to do.
My brother and I used to play this game and we eventually ended up throwing the shells or pebbles at each other, claiming that one of us had cheated!
Father was so good that he wrote a book called CHADERNO TI SUNGKA. He knew which hole to pick from and never “died” until he had all the shells in his goal. It was a case of mathematical calculation. Hence, he was good in CALCULUS! (Betty just told me that Joy failed in her calculus subject. 10/18/94)