Siatong-A A +A
Thursday, March 7, 2013
FOR those who entered elementary school before the late nineties, Siatong is probably familiar as one of their before-class, recess, lunch break and after-class diversion aside from patintero, holen, or some games involving tsinelas and lata. It is a game that can be played between individuals or teams. The rules are simple, do not need an elaborate training, and does not require sophisticated equipment. All that is needed are the stem of a runo grass or twigs from a tree, and a wide open space.
Two pieces of sticks from the runo or a twig, one around half-foot and another around three times longer, and a boat-shaped small hole on the ground which will serve as the base are the essentials for playing. To commence the game, the opposing individuals would agree on how many points would be needed to determine a winner, points to be assigned on a ‘catch’, and the number of sets of punishment for the loser. When all these are agreed upon, the players will resolve who would play the base first. This can be done through toss-the-coin but conventionally each player will be tasked to bat the short stick from the base with the long stick. The short stick will be placed in a slant position with one end protruding from the hole, the player will hit it with the long stick to let it fly in the air and hit it again attempting to land it on the farthest possible spot. If any player was not able to make the second hit (the one while the short stick is flying in the air), it will be as good as zero distance. The player who landed it the farthest will play the base and the other will play the field.
The game has three stages of advancement. Both the base player and the field player will have the chance to score in all of these stages. In the first stage, the base player will place the short stick across the hole and scoop it out with the long stick attempting to land it on the farthest possible spot on the side where the field player is but should not allow the later to catch it. If the field player catches the short stick, then he/she would get the points assigned for a ‘catch’ while gaining the chance to play the base. If the short stick was not caught, the base player shall place the long stick across the hole and the field player will throw the short stick from the landing spot attempting to hit it. If the long stick got hit, then the field player earns the chance to play the base. If not, the base player earns the chance to count some points. The number of ‘long stick’ measures from the hole to the short stick is the points for the base player.
After measurement of the score, the base player will advance to the second stage. This involves holding the short stick in one hand and the long stick on the other, releasing the short stick, and batting it with the long one towards the side where the field player is but again without letting him/her catch. If the field player catches it, the score assigned for a catch will be earned. If it was not caught, the field player will throw it back to base making an effort that there should be zero ‘long stick’ measure from short stick to the hole. The base player shall therefore guard the hole by attempting to bat back the short stick that the field player will throw. If there is zero long stick measure from the hole, then the base player will yield the base to the opponent. If not, then the ‘long stick’ distance will again be counted from the hole to the short stick which will add to the score of the base player.
The third stage is an opportunity for the both players to add to their scores. The procedure is the same as that used for resolving who would start as base player only that the field player should attempt to catch the short stick. If the short stick is caught, then it is the field player who gets the ‘catch’ points and also earns the chance to play base. If not, then the base player adds to his score by measuring the ‘long stick’ units from the hole to the short stick. If after counting, there is no one who reaches the required number of points to win, the stages will be repeated. If anyone reaches the required points or even exceeds it, then that player will be declared the winner.
The winner will be given the chance to punish the loser by batting the stick, like what is being done in the second stage. Such procedure will be done in the number of times agreed upon before the game. The loser will be required to run from the base to where the short stick landed shouting “SHAAAAAAAAAAAATONG” without taking a breath. If the player breaks his/her shout with a breath without reaching the destination, the procedure will have to be repeated until it is perfected. Sometimes a twist is added where the loser will be the one to ‘punish’ the winner. A loser can be allowed to catch the flying short stick, that when he/she caught it, then he/she punishes the winner. Also, the processes can be modified such that it can be played between teams, or for more than two people but playing individually.
There are many reasons or factors why Siatong is shattered from being played in schools and in neighborhood. One reason, perhaps very valid, is that it is not an Olympic sport. But what those who long played it should be distressed about is that Siatong can no longer be played because there is lack of shrubs or trees, and wide open spaces in schools. And the children, has computer games for their diversions.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 07, 2013.