Honestly, I do not know how to play dama, that includes billiards. If ever I tried to play, I would surely lose to an opponent. In my youth, playing dama is synonymous with being an idler, lazy, truant, or worse, nothing but a trouble-maker. The only billiard joint in our town was located in in the vicinity of the public market, where school drop-outs and trouble-makers go. And, whenever someone loses in dama, he usually picks up a fight. So, I had the impression that dama, just like billiards, is a game of people who had nothing to do in their life. Of course, billiards gained popularity when Efren “Bata” Reyes became a billiards champion.

Hence, back then, I would rather do productive chores like reading old books, tend to our small backyard piggery, water our guava trees that bore fruits bigger than my fists, play scrabble, and help clean the house and do other household chores.

Unlike chess, dama was never introduced as a friendly game. It was just a pastime. I am glad that dama has transformed over the past years. We know what we have called Dama to speak of. Indeed, we can say, just like what winners usually say, naka-dama, that dama has naka-dama [has advanced or taken a lead].


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