an educational afternoon

A couple of weeks ago M, from Organization C, informed that she would really like to take L, the Social Worker, to Manila for an exposure trip – to visit some facilities and to see some of the conditions in which the street children there are living.  As such, there would be no one to run the office, so she asked if I would be willing to do so.  I readily agreed – it wasn’t a problem in the least for me, and I quite liked the idea of having the chance to get to know some of the kids a little better.

What I didn’t know was that many of the kids didn’t have school the first day – something about testing for the new students in the school – and so they spent the whole of the day at the office.  Aside from being a little noisier than they are when M and L are around, they were perfect angels, and I learned a lot!  I thought I’d teach the girls a couple of those hand-slappy games (Miss Suzy had a steamboat…the steamboat had a bell – DING DING!), which they really liked…and then they taught me a couple as well.  They had this one in which they played 3 rounds of rocks-paper-scissors within the course of the song, and the one who got two out of three (or 3/5 if there were ties, and so on), being the winner, asked the other to choose.  The loser chose an animal, and the winner emulated that animal by inflicting pain on the loser!  So if the loser chose ants, for example, the winner would then decide on a number (not sure if this was ordained or random), and would then pinch the forearm of the loser that number of times.  If the loser chose elephant, the winner would call out the number and then raise a fist to drop on the loser’s forearm – much like the trunk of an elephant – that number of times.  There were more – fish (slapping), cat (clawing), etc…but please don’t worry – it wasn’t nearly as violent as it sounds…

There were two things, however, that I thought were just stinking awesome.

The first was a game, similar to Chinese Jump rope: the girls – four of them – took off their flipflops and lined them up, about 10 inches apart on the ground.  Then one girl would straddle one flipflop, and jump to the next and the next and so on, while the other two sang a song.  When the song ended, the flipflop she was on top of would be removed, thereby increasing the distance she had to jump.  This went on until they were trying to jump 4 feet or more…hilarious to watch an 8 year-old girl try to jump a distance bigger than she is.

The second thing I learned was a way to curl the notoriously obstinate  straight Pinay hair I have envied my whole life.  One needs:

– Several hair ties (elastic bands)

– Several sticks of an outside Filipino broom

Inside brooms look like this:









and outside brooms look like this:









So they take two sticks from the outside broom, and then wrap a hair tie around and around and around one end until they are firmly held together.  Then the curler takes a lock of the curlee’s hair, and puts it between the two sticks right at the very top, near to the hair tie.  She then weaves the lock back and forth like on a loom, kind of, and when that lock runs out, she starts a new one, until it looks a bit like the fishtail braids we used to do in the ’80s.  Then she does the same on the other side, so there’s these really pretty things running down both sides of the curlee’s head.  These will later be removed, like any curlers, and she will have crimped – if not truly curly – hair!  The problem is that the elastic bands break, and the sticks break, so this takes several attempts.  Presumably the older girls are a bit better at knowing which sticks are the least brittle, or how to wrap the hair ties just so.  Nevertheless I found it spectacular.

So much to learn…so little time!  But I will have you know that those kids – boys included – are playing “Down by the Banks” to a tee…and they get a real kick out of the nonsensical lyrics.  For your nostalgic enjoyment:


Down by the banks of the Hanky-Panky

Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky

where the EEPS!  OPS!  Soda Pops!

He missed a lily and he went “ker-plop”!

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One thought on “an educational afternoon

  1. […] market are little stalls built into its exterior selling pirated DVDs, cell phones and the like, brooms and plastic buckets of all sizes and shapes…even malongs and sandals (called chinelas […]

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