NO AMOUNT of intense emotion can equal, that of a moment, when one decides to gamble. Sometimes in the middle of the school year, I entered public service by way of replacement, from a colleague who assumed the position of Head Teacher. I took over her fourth-year advisory class. One lunch time, I went to inspect the cleanliness of the classroom and to my surprise, I caught some of the boys playing “pusoy”. I confiscated the card and the bet immediately. Being new and trying to foster constructive relationship, I decided to join them, with an accord to return the confiscated bet if they win. Hoping to instill positive reflection on them as we play, I narrated my gambling story.
Twenty years ago, in a mining community, we gamble in the school grounds by “Paris” or tossing pairs of coin. For example: a one-peso coin bares Jose Rizal on one side and a Carabao figure on the other; if both Rizal appears flat on the ground after tossing, the one who tossed won; otherwise, it belongs to the opponent; repeat the tossing if there are no pairs. Money that time is very difficult to earn. So, with my younger brothers, we complimented our allowances by collecting plastic and bottle scraps found in garbage bins.
When we sold what we collected, I was tempted to gamble in a “Paris” against their will. Being the elder, I swayed them to double our money. At first, I was winning but I ended up losing all the proceeds of our hard labor. I cannot spell their disappointed faces. With a penny consolation, I asked from my opponent, I went on to buy an ice candy to comfort them. Now boys, before you gamble your allowances, think of the hardship and sacrifices employed, before that money pop in in your wallet.
But just like you and your head as hard as the stone, my gambling vice has not ended. One time, I gambled the allowance or subsidy I received from the government. Modesty aside, I was a government scholar, courtesy of the Department of Science and Technology. It was a three to four move gamble disguised as a chess puzzle at the Igorot park. I ended up losing again, as those chess positions were carefully crafted to fool novice and even expert players.
Nevertheless, the most unforgettable gambling moments occurred when I gambled my salary at a time when I was already working in the private sector. This happened in one of the “peryaan” at the slaughter house. I went on to play Baccarat, dice, poker and even Bingo games. And the last of which is the “drop ball game” where I wrestled one of the players. I was accused of taking his one-hundred-peso bet. I am sure that it was my bet because I put mark on it. He was so determined to grab the money, but I took my stand, because it was also my last money. I lately realized that he was armed with a knife, and possibly without the intervention of other players, someone could have been badly hurt. I even lost my phone in that scuffle. From his side, one came to apologize and explained that their companion has been there for a long time and has lost several grands already. Not to escalate the tension, my friend lends me a hundred and was told to go home because It was almost dawn. As I went out of the “peryaan” I vowed with all the heavens overhead; it would be my last gambling activity.
With that story, I told the boys to mull over. I seized their coins as agreed upon since, they have not won in the “pusoy” game. I thought that with my story, it would be the last time I see them gamble in the school, but I was wrong.
One week thereafter, I went to their Technology and Livelihood Education Class to get one of the boy’s birth certificate and there it was, I caught them playing “pusoy” again. Their teacher was not around obviously. I pretended not to have noticed the activity, so I took the birth certificate and went out but I met their teacher along the way. I just said “the boys are having good time in your class”. What happened next was unexpected. (To be continued)