Geek Fighting is Manila’s latest sport. What’s a book geek to do? :D

(First published in Manila Bulletin, Students and Campuses Section)

The trivia culture has invaded Manila!

Pub quizzes, the quaint British tradition of publicly matching wits and exchanging useless information over drinks and bar chow, have been a great addition to the social scene around the city. On any given week, you’re bound to find one or two trivia showdowns in bars around the metro, and for geeks such as myself, the glory of being the geekiest of them all proves to be difficult to resist.

I’d heard about Geek Fight for some time now, and I’d always intended to join, as I’ve never been known to back down from any geeky challenge. So when I chanced upon the Facebook page calling for an all-Pinoy Geek Fight Friday of last week, I was determined to give it a good try.

On Friday night, the ragtag team I assembled met up at the Quantum Café in Makati for what (save for two of the members) was our first foray into Geek Fight: me, my cousin Dianne, our book club friends Czar and Marie (a writer and a geodetic engineer), my office’s finance officer Ate Chi, my lawyer friend Ryan (also a political science teacher), my long-time friend Joseph (who works in advertising), and his pal Norman (a banker).


Flips Flipping Pages + Friends Team

 

‘ALAM NIYO BA?’

The night promised a thematic, all-Filipino Geek Fight entitled “Alam Niyo Ba?,” sponsored by Yabang Pinoy, an organization promoting Filipino pride through entrepreneurship.

The Geek Fight host, Paolo Cruz, ran us through the general Geek Fight rules first: no half-points will be awarded, nicknames are not acceptable, wrong spelling is okay as long as it is phonetically correct, the option to draw lewd pictures on the answer board if we didn’t know the answer, and other technicalities.

And then we found out about the night’s trivia categories: music, politics, geography, arts, economy, and showbiz.

We began on a high note in the music category, with the question, “Which host and pop artist has the real name Gaudencio Aquino Sillona III?” We made a wild guess at “Jay-R,” which turned out to be correct.

 

The team in deep concentration.

 

We scored a few more coups in that category: the person depicted on the cover of Francis Magalona’s album ‘Free Man’ (Elmo Magalona); the singer known as the queen of ‘bodabil’ (Katy de la Cruz); and the popular Filipino folksong rendered by Eartha Kitt (‘Waray Waray’). We were faring pretty well in the first half, scoring almost regularly through the rounds.

In the politics round, we were able to identify what “RA” and “RJ” stand for in the political spectrum (reaffirmist and rejectionist); what BEI stands for (Board of Election inspectors); and the first UN  president (Carlos P. Romulo). We hedged on naming two of UNDP’s millennium development goals — we got poverty alleviation and wrote maternal health but erased it and erroneously wrote in ‘water,’ which cost us a point, but got back in the game by identifying the language in which the menu for Aguinaldo’s inauguration was written (French), and the president who espoused the Filipino First Policy (Carlos P. Garcia).

We named “geography” as our joker round, where we had the opportunity to get a double point for each correct answer we got. We fumbled around some questions – the original function of the site which now holds the Filipinas Heritage Library (airport); the theme room NOT offered by Victoria Court (Lord of the Rings); entry points to Mt. Banahaw (Dolores and Sariaya) and the setting of F. Sionil Jose’s “Po-on” (Rosales; we answered Rosario!).

We soon made up for that lost points by naming the body of water in the novel Ilustrado from which the corpse of the protagonist’s mentor was pulled (Hudson River); Pacquiao’s training gym in the US (Wild Card); the famous wave in Siargao (Cloud Nine); and the location of the Honesty Café (Batanes).

 

They had to ask!

 

We were also given the opportunity to score extra points by coming up to the stage and sharing related anecdotes about the answers, and I took my turn at the show and tell with Cloud Nine, as I’d been in Siargao last year covering an interisland race. By the end of the first half, we were at 26 points, four points ahead of the next team, and we were feeling pretty confident.

 

LONG ROAD TO VICTORY

The next few rounds threw us off, as the questions proved to be quite difficult for our team.

We bombed in the arts round, failing to identify Bencab as the artist of a particular painting; the title of the Luna painting recently acquired by GSIS (The Parisian Life); the graffiti artist who is the DJ of the band Drip (Caliph8). Our only saving grace was being able to name a Filipino master with Chinese ancestry (Ang Kiukok); and the founder of the photography event Headshot (Niccolo Cosme).

In the economy category, we fared a little better, scoring points for naming two Jollibee-owned companies (Greenwich and Chow King); the first SM Supermall (SM City North EDSA) and then sharing an anecdote on SM’s top three tenants.

We also scored some points in the showbiz round, naming the historical character Elizabeth Ramsay played in the Superwheel commercial (Cleopatra), and Cherie Gil’s famous line in Bituing Walang Ningning (“You’re nothing but a second rate, trying hard, copycat!”).

 

Written with much gusto!

 

As the questions ran out, we had no idea how we stood against the other teams, especially as most teams named the showbiz round as their joker round. We were on tenterhooks as they computed the scores and announced the top three teams, and the whole team broke out in squeals of delight as the hosts announced that we managed to squeak past the first runner-up by two points!

We took the stage to claim our moment of glory and receive our spoils: graphic shirts and goodie buckets from Yabang Pinoy, a round of drinks for the team, and the distinction of being champs for the night’s Geek Fight. Not bad, for a bunch of geeks, and on our first try too. Not bad at all!

 

Pinoy Geek Fight champs!