Sagada Fiesta - Sports, Cheering, and School Rivalries

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sagada Fiesta(Above photo is a collage of icons from the Paul Villegas' Sagada Fiesta Galleries.)

During my elementary years (and that was in the mid to late 80s) and I believe until now, Sagada fiestas were filled up with sport competitions. The fiesta program shows the schedule of volleyball, baseball, softball, and basketball games and watching or participating in these can be enough to fill up a day. There were also the sprinting races generally held at the last day of the fiesta. I only knew of 100-meter dash at the baseball ground; Sagada doesn't have a track for the longer events. If one is near the town center, the PA system is heard broadcasting matches that will soon be starting or about to start. The calls would go like this - "First call for boys baseball. Sagada Central School vs Antadao Elementary School." or this - "Last call for women's volleyball. Sagada ECW vs Besao ECW". I don't recall if they ever broadcast the results over the PA system.

I probably am included in the less than 1% of Philippine males that do not play basketball. (This is a noteworthy blog post in the future if someone is interested.) But I was fast enough to finish fourth in the 100m dash against taller opponents. I probably would have won had I not started school 2 years earlier and had to compete with boys a year or two older than me. (Now that's a good excuse, hehe.) I also had good hand-eye coordination enough to make the volleyball team as a regular player when I was in 5th grade. That means I beat out some 6th graders for the team. That would have been enough to make me proud if I didn't have a teammate who was in the 3rd grade. This boy, who goes by the initials FK, is probably the youngest ever volleyball player from our school. He was short for the team but had very good anticipation and placed the ball well. His mother was the high school principal and I saw him practicing with high school students before he even entered elementary school. Not fair.

CHEERING. Sagada didn't have the drum-beating-boosters-and-pompom-type-squads that constituted the cheering I learned as a student in Manila. What was there were normally a group of mostly women and girls, normally led by a teacher or so, and they would sit outside the playing area and sing some jingles. The opposing team, if they're fortunate to have a cheering group too, would sit in the opposite side. So if you're watching a softball game, you'd hear the following being sung while a player would walk up to bat:

"Bat that ball, bat that ball,
Name of School would bat that ball,
Name of School would bat that ball,
And we will win, the game today."

Gee, that sounded lame having to hum it while writing it down, hahaha. Still, I remember it sounding just right at that time. It probably is not that bad if delivered as a chant, as opposed to a jingle, and accompanied by drums. Anyway, that particular cheer would be cut off had the player actually hit the ball and was running towards the 1st base. Or, the 3rd line would just be muted had the player struck out. That cheer applied also to volleyball to basketball. Just change the lines to "Serve that ball" or "Shoot that ball" as needed.

One of the funnier cheers though, especially if a player hit a clean ball and the opposing team is scrambling to get that ball is this:

"The ball went over the mountain, the ball went over the mountain,
The ball went over the mountain, (high note being held here...)
To see the carabao. To see the carabao, to see the carabao.
The ball went over the mountain, the ball went over the mountain,
The ball went over the mountain, To see the carabao."

Ah! That was fun. I've also actually heard it sang as a taunt when a volleyball player overhit a serve or a return and it went way beyond wide.As a student of Sagada Central School, a.k.a. Bomabanga, and since we lived in the central barangays of Sagada, it was natural for me to cheer for my sisters' teams from St. Mary's School. With the creation of the Sagada National High School, there are now 2 high schools in the central barangays. It would be interesting to know which high school someone from Bomabanga would cheer on.Of my 3 sisters, only one was a varsity in high school. St. Mary's had dominating teams while I was growing up, but there were years where I'd wish we lived somewhere else. The softball team of our oldest sister during their senior high school year was really terrible. They'd lose by more than 10 runs to teams that they used to dominate in previous years.

School Rivalries. I remember a couple of interesting rivalries. In volleyball - it was Tetep-an versus the central schools, for both boys and girls volleyball in elementary and high school. St. Mary's High was virtually untouchable in high school male volleyball thanks largely to the Balanon-trained Guinaang imports. Female volleybelles from St. Mary's, also trained by the same coach, also won 99.99% of the time, but Tetep-an always gave a worthy challenge. In provincial meets, Sagada would most of the time be represented by St. Mary's teams, with one or two players from Tetep-an.

The girls from Bomabanga were also as formidable as their high school counterparts, but the talent was somehow missing for the team during my 6th grade. I will not identify the team. That year, the Tetep-an girls team was vastly superior in all aspects that it was an achievement for Bomabanga to get a third of their total points. As for the boys team, our Bomabanga team beat everyone, including Tetep-an, handily. Eherm!

Another interesting rivalry was between the All Saints Mission school, Bontoc's Anglican elementary school, and Bomabanga. These schools are rivals in Mountain Province in a lot of competitions, both sports and academic. The All Saints team were very strong in softball girls. They've beaten the Bomabanga team several years in a row. On my first Sagada fiesta when I was in 2nd grade, they visited Sagada to play against the Bomabanga team that included my second eldest sister. Somehow that year, the Bomabanga team beat them. If I remember right, it was an ill-tempered game where the losers failed to acknowledge the winning team and just left for Bontoc.

Girls volleyball was also hotly contested between the two teams. I believe that the most talented volleyball's team that Bomabanga has produced was the 1986 team. My sister belonged to that team and in high school, they represented the Cordillera Region in the Palarong Pambansa. However, during the division competition earlier that schoolyear, the All Saints team initially lost to a Sagada team missing their tallest player because apparently, she was deemed overheight. (Yes, there was such a thing!) The match was held in Bontoc, and the losing team complained to their supervisors and wanted a rematch. Somehow, the Sagada coach agreed to a rematch late in the afternoon, and the visiting and fatigued Sagada team lost in 3 tight sets. (Ok, I wasn't there but I knew the players involved.) The second result stood so the All Saints team became the division champions. When they visited Sagada for the fiesta, the Sagada team beat them easily in two straight sets. The whole affair was so bizarre I remember all the details after 20+ years!


SaGaDa-iGoRoT April 15, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

A reader named DIKLAWAN reminded me that if someone fails to bat a ball, the cheer would go like this:

"Never mind that, never mind that!That's the way how to play..
To be happy, and gay."

I remember that cheer too, but I forgot to include in this post.

Another friend from Texas corrected me on the "Balanon-trained" description. It should be "Banganan-trained". I stand corrected.