Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monte, Mahjong, Panguingue Atbp...

When I recall my growing-up years in Silay, one thing stands out...gambling.  As a young child up to my early teen years, I was exposed to Monte, a Spanish gambling card game, Panguingue, a rummy variation using Spanish cards or Baraja Español and of course, Mahjong. This was at a time when gambling was not yet illegal and my grandfather saw that he could earn money from it since he never gambled himself. I was fascinated with the copas, bastos, oros and espadas and would eagerly help my grandmother put docu cement (this has long disappeared from the Philippine market) on the side of the barajas to preserve the edges. I remember seeing men sitting in the monte table who were identified as "personal"..although to this day, I do not know what their roles were. In this house and my grand-aunt's house next door, I saw properties exchanging owners and fortunes lost. I remember someone arriving in a car and leaving on foot since he put up his vehicle as collateral.  After a few years and some ruined lives, government put a stop to monte and that was that for my lolo.  Of course, my lolas continued their panguingues and mahjongs with close friends but limited only to afternoons and family gatherings.  Still other houses both in and outside our neighborhood continued to hold these monte sessions which by then have become more uncontrollable and contentious since it was opened to the public unlike ours which was by invitation only. One weekend, while my lola was having one of her recreational sessions with her amigas, rapid gunfire was heard!  We all ran into the bathroom and huddled together.  Later we learned that one of the gamblers (a policeman) was losing and in his rage walked out and started shooting his gun in the air. Since it was happening a few houses away from ours, it was scary to say the least. But in spite of this environment, neither our parents nor us learned how to play any of these games.  And we are all the better for it.  My one regret is that I should have asked my lola for those fascinating barajas...now-a-days these are rare finds and I could probably make money out of them today ;)

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