My little sister, M, came home today with a big story to tell.
She had just participated in the PEiesta 2009, it’s an annual all-day PE event for students of the Ateneo.
She was ecstatic that her team won, and I gave her my congratulations. And then I asked her what games she participated in.
Her answer made me cringe.
There was this one game. Let’s call it the chicken game, one for the boys and one for the girls. M wasn’t exactly sure what the rules of the game were (I’d been asking about it the previous night, see). All M knew was that the person who got the chicken first won. I had visions of a chicken running all over the backfield while girls screamed and chased after it. It seemed pointless, but at the same time terribly funny to watch.
Back to the PEiesta. Let’s do this bit present-tense.
The girls go first. Someone, the referee maybe, carries a live, clucking chicken into the gym, in the middle of a gaggle of girls. The girls are antsy and excited. And maybe a little too strung up.
Suddenly, the man throws the chicken high into the air. The chicken drops to the ground, and instantly the girls rush into a frenzy. They pull and push and claw, each trying to keep ahold of the panicked animal, screaming and acting like a crazed mob, intent on ripping the animal alive.
M doesn’t even remember how it ended, whether somebody had succeeded in keeping most of the chicken to herself, or if the mania just gradually elapsed. All she remembers is that at the end of the madness, the chicken was a broken carcass, feathers and blood flung carelessly over blue cement.
I was horrified at M’s story. I couldn’t stop laughing, at first. But, migod, when she told me about the poor chicken and how it had died… It was just very shocking to me, that something so cruel and inhuman could happen at the hands of these young and innocent girls. And that it was encouraged and instigated by the school. (Read a firsthand account from an Atenean student here.)
You would think that the boys’ event would have been canceled at the very least. But no. The only difference was that this time, the chicken wasn’t thrown into the air, and the boys managed to keep the chicken alive.
It was just a chicken.