The local office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has stopped a spider game called “Gagambattle” from being staged by the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) of Barangay Sicsican because they are living creatures that are important to the ecosystem.
The spider battle was supposed to happen on Monday at 6 p.m. but the Sicsican SK was ordered by the DENR to stop it, said its chairman Velly Vanne Somosierra.
“Tinawagan ako ng DENR na bawal daw ang gagambattle kasi raw buhay-ilang sila. Kasi sa amin hindi rin namin alam, nakasanayan na ‘yan na laro. Hindi ko alam kung sa Sicsican lang pero baka kahit saan naman,” he said.
Spider fighting is among the traditional rural Filipino children’s games where the arachnids are made to clash with each other from opposite ends of a stick usually from the dried midrib of a coconut leaf or a twig.
Usually, the derby ends when a spider paralyzes its opponent.
He said it was originally a part of the Palarong Pinoy, Linggo ng Kabataan 2019 event of the Sicsican SK from August 24-26.
Somosierra said that the initial purpose of the event was just for amusement without money betting involved.
He said after the DENR told them that the spiders are part of the ecosystem and should not be caught, they agreed to help the agency instead in conducting an information drive to stop the game from being played among the youth in their barangay.
“Parang kasiyahan lang sana siya sa mga bata kasi pagtapos nila sa school ay maglaro naman. Na-suggest lang naman nila kasi ang focus naman ng Linggo ng Kabataan natin ay buhayin ang musika at saka wikang Filipino,” he said.
Somosierra said the information and education campaign against spider derby must be strengthened because not all children are aware of the law.
He also explained that in terms of awareness regarding the Philippine Wildlife Act, the youth in their barangay still has a lot to learn.
“Parang naging wake up call na rin sa kanila (DENR), naalarma sila na dahil sa post na iyon ay hindi pala aware ang mga kabataan kahit mga matatanda na bawal hulihin ‘yong mga gagamba,” he said.
It was explained to him, he said, that even house spiders must not be collected at home because they help lessen the presence of mosquitoes that commonly brings dengue and malaria.
He said they will work closely with the DENR so they can help disseminate the information to elementary and public schools in Sicsican.
“Makikipagtulungan na lang muna kami sa DENR para i-tap din ‘yong mga schools. Dito sa atin magsisimula ‘yong info drive, ‘yong promotion ng batas na ‘yon para hindi na hulihin ‘yong mga gagamba,” he said.
“Huwag na natin i-tolerate yong gagamba battle, yong paghuhuli at pagbi-benta dahil parte sila ng ecosystem at malaking tulong sila sa atin bilang tao dahil napipigilan nila yong pagkalat ng dengue gaya ng sabi ng DENR at sana focus na lang tayo sa ibang projects,” he said.