Category Archives: and OTHER THINGS

Other things that caught my attention during the week

Bato Bato Pik

Rock, Paper, Scissors is Bato Bato Pik

When we were kids, this is the game we played to determine who will go first inside a dark room or who will get the last piece of candy. When playing team sports (like tigso, softball, or basketball), we used it to group ourselves into opposing teams (one group consists of all the losers and the other group, all the winners). I had three grade school classmates who were very good at winning the Rock-Paper Scissors game: Henry Lovitos, Reynaldo Idea and James Asahan. They claimed there is a secret behind their winning streak. I always thought it was sheer luck. And of course, we broke their streak when we pitted them against one another!

It is a simple game with many names and variations. During my childhood days, we call it sambara, although we also call it jack–en-poy because of the chant we use while playing it.  In Manila, they call it bato, bato pik. In English, they call it Rock-Paper-Scissors or RPS for short.


How Bato Bato Pik is played

This is a game where two opponents toss out hand gestures. The opposing players move their fists up and down three times while shouting a pre-agreed chant. The fists come down each time a word is said. Fists should not touch each other; the motion being performed entirely up and down in the air in front of each other.

There are 3 chants I know:

Jack en poy./  hole hole hoy. / sinong matalo, syang unggoy./

Bato,/  bato, / pik!/


One,/  two,/  three!/

Presentation2 Small2 Bato Bato Pik


The players make the gesture after uttering the last word of the chant.  There are three gestures to choose from:

  • Rock – a closed fist.
  • Paper – a flat, open hand
  • Scissors – index and middle fingers extended.

You win, lose or draw depending on what gesture you used versus your opponent. Rock wins over scissors; scissors wins over paper; and, paper wins over rock. Tossing same gestures results in a tie, and you have to try again. Most of the time, it is a best of three (2/3) game; the first to win two games, wins.


A Bato bato Pik Society and World Championships!

I thought rock-paper-scissors is  one of our indigenous games and only us Pinoys play it.  I was wrong.  I chanced upon an article which talked about the game, including real tips at how to win it.  That caught my curiosity so I did a bit of research on the subject. The new insights I learned about the game surprised me:

  1. The game dates back to the days of the Chinese Han Dynasty(206 BCE – 220 CE), and was called The Gestures.  In 18th century Japan it was called Jan-ken-pon. Could this be why we also call this game Jack-en-Poy?  Was it the Japanese who brought to the Philippines this game or the Chinese who has traded with our ancestors way before the Japanese and the Europeans came?
  2. In 2005, an RPS win secured auction house Christie’s a 10 million deal. Here is the story as narrated by Telegraph, a UK publication (

A Japanese art collector who could not decide whether to sell his Impressionist paintings through Christie’s or rival auction house Sotheby’s instructed them to play the game against each other.

Christie’s consulted its employees on strategies and, on the advice of the director’s 11-year-old daughters, chose scissors.

The little girls, keen fans of the game, explained that “everybody expects you to choose rock”.

As predicted, Sotheby’s went for the open palm in a bid to beat the expected clenched fist, and lost the deal

  1. There is a Rock-Paper-Scissors World Championships. There is a cash prize involved. It is held in Toronto, Canada and attracts competitors from countries as distant as Norway, Australia, and Singapore.  The World Champions are Bob Cooper of the UK in 2006, Andrea Farina of USA in 2007, Monica Martinez of Canada in 2008 and Tim Conrad of USA in 2009.

The 2010 world championships was cancelled because of the passing of Wojek Smallsoa, the then Chairman of the World RPS Society Steering Committee and the acknowledged “Father of the modern RPS.  The 2011 championships will be held this November.

  1. The US version of the tournament, the USARPS Championships has a big sponsor in beer company Anheuser-Busch. It features tournaments in bars all over the US of A. The regional winners eventually compete in Las Vegas for a $50,000 prize.
  2. There is a World Rock Paper Scissors Society and it has a website ( This is the group that sanctions the World Championships described above. And there are various Rock, Paper and Scissors Groups and Pages on Facebook!
  3. There are mobile apps on RPS. I was testing a blackberry tablet this afternoon and I browsed through the apps installed in the unit and one of apps was rocks, paper, and scissors!  Similar apps are also available on Facebook.
  1. An article written by Natalie Wolchover for Live ) gave the  following tips on how to win in Rock-Paper-Scissors:
    • Inexperienced RPS players tend to lead with a Rock (so use paper against them during the first toss)
    • Experienced players won’t lead with Rock (so use scissors to win or tie)
    • People don’t come out with the same throw three times in a row.
    • Gesture over and over with the move that you want your opponent to play next. Unconsciously, your opponent will often accept your suggestion.
    • Announcing your next move is a good trick. Because your opponent will think you will not.(so use the gesture that will beat the move you announced)
    • People try to come back from a loss or tie by throwing the move that would have beaten his last one.

It has been decades since I have seen Henry, Rey and James. I could have told them that I have finally cracked their secrets. But better yet, I could pit their Rock-Paper-Scissors skills versus a computer program; or versus mobile apps.  But if they are already abroad and near North America, maybe I could encourage them to join the world tournament?

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The Choice that Man Made for Himself

They say that the reason man is in a mess he is in today is because when he had a choice, he wanted to get the best for himself. Below is one such account which I got via email  from Reynaldo “Bembot”  Española  of Compostela Valley, Mindanao:

 On the first day, God created the dog and said: “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.” The dog said: “That’s a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten?” So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said: “Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.”  The monkey said: “Monkey tricks for twenty years? That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?” And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said: “You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer’s family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.”  The cow said: “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I’ll give back the other forty?” And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said: “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you twenty years.”  But man said: “Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?” “Okay,” said God, “You asked for it.”

So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves.

For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family.

For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren.

And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

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This is this blog’s 49th day


Blogging Cartoon This is this blogs 49th dayThis post serves as a documentation of my blogging experience since June 28, 2011 when  I  posted by first entry…

I have published 14  posts in this work-in-progress blog. The blog has now 76 tags and 9 categories.

The first post was about the pointers I got before starting this blog.

The next two were earlier works:

  • Alon – a Filipino poem I wrote in 1979 and was published together with other art and literary works of various Davao born and Davao based artists and/or writers. I selected this  because was looking for a personal literary work I can type quickly,  but good enough to show readers.
  • A Homecoming Speech was an attempt  at copying and pasting an existing word file, then inserting an image  from the media library.  I used a speech I delivered in December 2004 during the 50th annual alumni homecoming of St. Michael’s School of Padada. Later on, I discovered that the same material was posted in a website about my hometown ( http:\\

Kanin CLub at UP Ayalaland Technohub talked about  a most recent dining experience. Here I tried to insert images I posted in Flickr. Unfortunately, I was not successful in making the plug-in  work. Which tells me that I should spend more time reading the WordPress tutorial or I hope I could get some pointers from friends on how to do it better.

I could have written on similar categories/topics  as the blog about P-noy’s  first year in office  but I don’t want this blogsite project to become political. Or maybe, not at this stage, yet.

I also started posting articles or speeches of some people’s life stories. I always liked sharing these types of materials since I want my readers to pick up some life’s lessons out of it. In fact, this is the same reason I write about some anecdotes about my life.

The ones that generated the most number of reads so far, are the puzzles. The blog ideas came from a recollection of those logic twisters I encountered through my TV-less days in my hometown. So, I posted puzzles about “the missing peso“, how best to bring “a cabbage, a cat and a rabbit” across the river using a limited capacity boat, etc.

I have also been experimenting on various themes for the site. I also toyed with some plug-ins and widgets.  Indeed, for somebody who has no idea about the various blogging program’s languages, I oftentimes end up in a dead-end. And my search for the best theme and design is still ongoing. Would I try buying premium themes? Which one has the best fit with my site?

I have started to invite some friends to view my blog via facebook and twitter. I specifically used the posts containing puzzles and invited them to answer. This upped the site visits, although most of those who answered the puzzles did it in my facebook page. Only a few used the reply section of the blog.

So far, the blog has 811 views over the 49 day period June 28 to Aug 16.  I could definitely increase this using some inbound marketing strategies but I want to manage the traffic number slowly until I will have learned more technical aspects of maintaining a blog.

Moving forward, I will start insert media into my blog – pictures, video and slide presentations among others. How best to do this is something I should be reading about.







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The Rabbit, the Cat and the Cabbage

Up to the early 70s, there were no television and daily newspapers in Padada- my hometown. Our main form of information and  entertainment during those years was radio. So we listened to radio dramas, to the radio commentaries, and to songs played over the radio. Radio announcers were celebrities, and radio characters were our heroes.

If we don’t like the radio program(s) and for lack of anything else to do before bedtime, we spent our time telling stories; or more accurately, the adults telling the stories and us the younger ones listening to them.  On some of these occasions, they played games of wits – the most popular of which are challenging the other people in the crowd if they can solve a puzzle. The dynamics of the puzzle game was amusing. As one person gave his solution, the other people in the group retorts back why the solution is wrong.

Here is one of the puzzles I remember being discussed in one of those. Lets see if you can solve it!

The Rabbit, the Cat, and the Cabbage

A farmer is returning from the farm. With him is his cat, a rabbit and cabbage. On the way home he must cross a river. His boat is small one, allowing him to take only one of the three things. He can’t keep the rabbit and the cabbage together (because the rabbit would eat it), nor the rabbit with the cat (because the cat would eat the rabbit).

How shall the farmer get everything on the other side (without any harm)?


And for my kababayans, the original version  is as follows:

Ang Rabbit, ang Iring, ug ang Repolyo

Ang magbabaol pauli na gikan sa iyang umahan. Duna siya dala nga iring, rabbit ug repolyo.  Bag-o sya mo-abot sa iya nga balay, kinahanglan nga molabang siya sa usa ka sapa. Pero gamay ra ang iya nga baruto mao nga usa ra sa tulo nya ka dala ang pwede nya nga makarga sa baruto. Dili nya pwede unahon ug dala ang iring unya  biyaan  ang rabbit ug ang repolyo kay kaunon man sa rabbit ang repolyo. Dili pod nya pwede nga biyaan ang iring ug ang rabbit kay kaunon man sa iring ang rabbit.

Unsaon man iyang himoon aron malabang nya ang  rabbit,  ang  iring ug ang repolyo sa tabok sa sapa nga walay mahitabo sa bisan usa sa tulo?



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How to Choose a Hair Cutter

The Haircut Puzzle

You are a stranger in a small town and desperately needs to get a haircut. There are only two hair cutters in town – located on opposite sides of a street. On one side is Pedro’s Barber Shop and on the other side is Renee’s Hair Salon.

Pedro’s Barber Shop is a mess, and Pedro, the owner of the shop has the worst haircut you have ever seen.

Renee’s Hair Salon on the other hand is neat and clean, and Renee, the owner of the shop has a haircut that looks as good as a movie star’s.

Which hair cutter would you go to for your haircut, and why?

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Limpya Bota Series 2: The Shoe Shine Box

The Shoe Shine Box

I got my shoe shine box from a cousin during the summer months of 1970. He knew I wanted to have one. I told him that there is an opportunity to earn money shining other people’s shoes. He promised that one day, he will give me a shoe shine box. And on that summer, he did!

Inside the shoe shine box was a shoe brush and a can with a little shoe polish left on it. I bought additional items to complete my shoe shine kit:  a shoe brush, two packs of shoe dye or dyobos –one black, one red. I mixed these with water and put the solution in an empty medicine bottle. I also got a fresh can of shoe polish, two used toothbrushes and an old white cotton T-shirt.

I practiced with the shoes at home; first with the old ones, and later, with the relatively newer pairs.  I simulated various types of grime or dirt a pair of shoes could have, and made sure I ended up with a clean and shiny pair of shoes. Only when I was very confident with my skill did I declare myself ready.

On my first two days as shine boy, I tagged along with Sammy – a neighbor who has plied the trade for more than a year.  Sammy was my on the job trainer. He gave me pointers on how to approach customers and emphasized that I should converse with the customer while shining their shoes.  I also learned from him how to set the price of  shoe shine services by pricing levels based on a pre-agreed quality of polish :  one application of shoe polish was 25 centavos; two to three applications would cost 50 centavos; and a charol (a wet-look finish) was at least one peso. We also charged a premium depending on how dirty the shoes and/or how bad the customer’s foot or socks smell!

As “payment” for his efforts at showing me some tricks of the trade, Sammy made me swear on the following: I will not poach on his regular customers, I will maintain the pricing levels of the shoe shine services; he can borrow shoe shine materials from me during emergencies; and, he can tell people that he taught me how to shine shoes.

For the next four years, I was a shoe shine boy during weekends and holidays! I was charging from a low of 25 centavos to a high of one peso per pair of shoes.  I had my stable of regular customers.  Some of them told me their life’s stories; a few shared to me their fears; and, quite a number talked about their dreams. Normally, I just listened. But when they asked for my opinion, I did not give them straight answers. I normally give my opinion by asking them what-if questions. Or, I share with them anecdotes of what another person did under similar circumstances. I was not the best shoe shine boy in the market, but a lot of customers looked for me when they want their shoes cleaned.

I also introduced my younger brothers to the ins-and-out of making money in the public market.   Rey also braved the alleys of the market as a shoe shine boy for more than two years. But when the fuel crisis erupted, he shifted to selling kerosene on retail. Alan did not want to shine shoes. Instead, he sold fruits and other food products to passengers in the town’s bus terminal.

As a shoe shine boy I stayed in the public market during weekends. In doing so, I met and dealt with various types of people. By observing the actions and listening to the stories of the store owners and the commodity traders, I got a very good idea of how they manage their business:  where they source their goods, their source of financial capital, and the margins they made.

From shining shoes, I earned around ten pesos on Saturdays; and fifty percent more during Sundays. That was a lot considering that in the early 70s, we could buy a bottle of soft drink plus a big piece of bread or a stick of banana cue for 25 centavos. To be sure, I earned more money from selling and attaching spikes to shoes, and from commodities and livestock trading.  In the early seventies, the money I earned on weekends not only covered my day-to-day allowances and other needs, I was also able to share these earnings with my family and my siblings.

I still relish the opportunities that the shoe shine box has opened to me.  In the years after my stint in the public market of my hometown, my playing field has expanded several folds. But the set of skills I learned during my shoe shine box days were all put to good use during my professional and business career.

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