This is what I submitted for our Socio 114 final exam. It was a challenge (and a headache) for me to relate Philippine Social System with the picture(two tricycle drivers playing chess) I took! Anyway,I’m posting this because I have not received a very low grade from the terror Socio 114 teacher of mine(I was expecting that I’ll flunk in this course). My low grade is so enough for me now(knowing that he gives 4 or 5). Maybe, he was really in a good mood while checking my papers,maybe he really was.
THE TALLER PIECE
When I was just at the age that I find it hard to know which slipper is for my left foot and which is for the right, my father would usually teach me things that he enjoys doing. One of those things is the game of chess. That time, it was still hard for me to distinguish the role of a piece to the other pieces, so he began explaining by saying; “The taller the piece is, the more important it is to the game.”
So I learned that chess is actually a game of hierarchy. There are taller ones, considered to be more powerful ones and of course, there are shorter ones, who are there because their main purpose is to protect and serve the taller ones. These shorter ones are limited. They are part of the game but for the chess player, it would not hurt much losing them to the opponent.
The Philippines is actually a picture of a hierarchy and structure that unconsciously gives the people their own roles, whether they like it or not. We have the superrich, the rich,the feeling rich, the poor, the dog who eats the crumbs of the poor, and the “tambays” who eat the dog. We are all part of a game of hierarchy. We act in accordance of our tallness in this so called society. The fisherfolks fish, the farmers plant, the women dreadfully keep the house, the kids ask for allowance, and the politicians stay. Did we choose this role for them? Did someone teach us what role to play? Well, that I can’t answer, all I know is that I act according to my tallness in this game.
According to a capitalist, economist Adam Smith; “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” The individuals who seek to maximize their own profit may also give the community what it needs. Maybe, he was right. We do things according to our self-interest. For the fisherfolks actually fish so that they will have rice to eat. The farmers plant so that they could have viands such as fish. The women keep the house to avoid bruises from the husbands. The kids go to school for allowance. The politicians stay for the same reasons the farmers, fishers, women, and the kids have.
One day, I was curious about the role of the king. It is a tall piece, right? I think it is powerful because it is taller and it looks more special than the others. So why should it move only one square at a time? My father said;“It is a very important piece because the others work for him. One wrong step and the whole game will be over. ”
Then, it is possible that we might be serving someone. That someone, I do not know. But I am certain about one thing: One wrong move of that someone and the whole structure crumbles. It is then quite ironic that the structure made up of many, and maintained by many, becomes destroyable because of one wrong move of the tallest piece. Well, after all, the game of chess is a game of hierarchy.
In one of our games( wherein I am losing again), I realized that I only have pawns, the weaker ones, left. So I asked my father ; “Is it possible for a pawn, the shortest one, to be as powerful as the queen? He said “Well, it is very possible, all that the pawn has to do is reach the side of the opponent ,the other end of the board, but that won’t be easy”. Guess what, turning my pawn into a queen became my goal, and so I tried to reach that side, only to find out that the rook was there to eat my queen. It was so tragic, I almost cried.
Could it be that the social class and status we are in is changeable? Many thought so. Probably, half of them succeeded. But this also means that the other half did not. People remained where they were born in the first place. Why so? Maybe ,because they have not tried hard enough, or maybe they didn’t even have the opportunity to try. The structure dictates the “moves” that are allowed and those that are not. We have our limitations.
Now, let’s see the bigger picture. We have a photo of two tricycle drivers who, having no passengers yet, kills their time by playing this game so-called chess. This reminds me that chess can be played by anyone. It could be played by a father and a daughter, by politicians, by professionals, by students, by tricycle drivers or by any person on the street. Do the people know that the hands that move the structure are actually their hands? By seeing the bigger picture, we will realize who really are controlling the whole game. The structure is made up, agreed upon and maintained by the tricycle drivers or any ordinary people on the street.
You might be thinking that I now know how to play chess. Well, I don’t. I don’t have the patience and enough IQ to comprehend this complicated game of the grown-ups. In fact, I don’t like playing chess, maybe because I always lose, maybe because I am too lazy to think, or maybe, just maybe, because chess reminds me that the taller the piece is, the more important it is to the game.