Sungka Festival of Silay

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By Betsy Gazo


Saturday, July 12, 2014

THE 2nd Sungka Festival of Silay City held at the Balay Negrense Museum last July 5 brought in quite a crowd. It was unexpected to have young people lined up so early in the morning, some even in their school uniforms with their sungkaan tucked under their arms.

Exactly 100 students turned up before the start of the competition at 8 a.m. If the museum had allowed last-minute registrations, the number would have gone up but, nay, competitor wanna-be’s have to wait until next year for the annual sungka event.

The first festival last year had just over 50 participants from various elementary and high schools in Silay City. That was an exciting competition that reached its goal of stimulating interest in the present generation, and probably their parents, in bringing back sungka as a way to entertain and also to bond with families and friends. That must have been a big factor in drawing the crowd this year. Hmmm…or was it the cash prize?


Playing the sungka requires good eye-hand coordination, and both analytical and mathematical skills. It also teaches sportsmanship and is a good agent in keeping familial bonds strong. The game is easy to learn and play but tricks can be learned so one can be ahead of the competition. Quick thinking and thinking ahead are significant factors in winning.

If you think this game belongs to the Middle Ages, think again. The competition proved that playing the sungka carried the same excitement as playing a computer game. This time, though, no man-made machine is used. More complex than any robot and computer is the human brain which, as we all know now, needs more exercise ever since man begun to be dependent on computers. Take that, Candy Crush!

I thank the Silay United Group of Artists (SUGA) led by Ian Valladarez who was one of the sponsors for this event. The artists did a lot of work to make the event special, including beautifying the grounds and the Balay and giving a free art workshop for the participants while the latter waited for the results.

Sun.Star Bacolod (thank you, Mr. Jimmy Golez) and Andrew Peñalosa were major sponsors, too. Resource speakers for the awarding ceremony in the afternoon were Silay City tourism officer Ver Pacete, and Educational Program supervisor for Araling Panlipunan Florenda Artajo who both boosted the museum staff’s morale by explaining why the sungka is an important part of our Filipino culture.

My staff members Myrna, Edsie and Egod, JP Palma and my hard-working volunteers from La Consolacion College i.e., Liza, Camille, Dorothy, and Ian were instrumental in smoothing out the kinks of this one-day event. Thanks so much to you all!

So, who won? This year’s winners were, for the elementary category: Jamel Seratin of Don Eustaquio Elementary School (2nd runner-up), Mark Ian Laviana of Dominador “Oking” Jison Elementary School (1st runner-up) and Jastine Marie Lopez of Guinhalaran Integrated Elementary School (champion).

For the high school category, we have Beverly Jandongan of Doña Montserrat Lopez Memorial High School (2nd runner-up), Mary Ann Jimenez also of Dona Montserrat Lopez Memorial High School (1st runner-up), and Ella Eunice Casipe of Brgy. E. Lopez (champion).

Cash prizes of P500, P1,000, and P1,500 were given away for each category. The participating schools got a pot of rosal plant to beautify their campus, while the sponsoring barangays were given a pot of bugnay seedling. These were grown from the rosal shrub and bugnay tree of the Balay Negrense.

Aside from taking a piece of the Balay with them, we hope that the schools and their students would take with them the precious gift of knowing our culture and keeping the tradition for the generation after them.*

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 12, 2014.


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