Manila - Samba Walker was here:
The Game Race. The country has more World Champions at this sport than they have in any other, with boxing and ten-pin bowling close behind. But at the end of the day the population is well into this game race. Billiards definitively takes pride of place with 8-ball and 9-ball players galore. The In-Crowd The Woodmanʹs Head is set along the main strip of this popular entertainment area, which is all within a short walking distance. A regular crowd of many different nationalities frequents this place, and the easy going atmosphere makes it simple to meet new people from all walks of life, most with interesting tales to share. Locals mix in regularly with the foreign-style bar, and many of these pitch up to play a game of pool or three.
Sometime in the 15th Century in France, the continuous rain and drizzle of a temperate climate, resulted in an outdoor lawn game, much like croquet, being brought inside and palced on a green covered table. A croquet-style mace (club) was used to shove balls around, and plank boards were placed lengthways, and acted as banks to contain the balls on the table. When a ball lay against a bank, the mace was turned around and the blunt end of the handle was used to strike that ball. The boards were also used to bounce the balls off, which became known as “bank shots”. These days there are many Filipino maestros who have mastered these shots over 500 years after the Europeans first tried them out. The game is played on all sorts and sizes of tables in the Philippines.
The Ermita end of Malate is down near the waters of Manila Bay, and tucked in behind the water is a popular entertainment area, where a lot of travellers pass through, and is a regular hang out for a lot of people working and basing in Manila and the Philippines. Definitively a few square miles where a good blow-out is not only on the cards but guaranteed. The area is littered with places to play billiards, each with its very own ambiance that is pleasantly different from the rest. The in-crow frequent the Manila Bay Café which is set along delPilar Street, which has several salubrious establishments worth visiting. The place is often heaving with activity, and to pass the time there are 8 pool tables set up on 2 floors.
The Game Race - The country has more World Champions at this sport than they have in any other, with boxing and ten-pin bowling close behind. But at the end of the day the population is well into this game race. Billiards definitively takes pride of place with 8-ball and 9-ball players galore. The Team Insider is set along the main strip of this popular entertainment area, which is all within a short walking distance. Locals mix in regularly with the foreign-style bar, and many of these pitch up to play a game of pool or three. The place is oozing with travellers flitting through via the Tune Hotel, and also has a keen local following with business foreigners based in the country using the bar and restaurant regularly.
An English version of billiards was reckoned to be around by the 14th Century. In those good old days Bill had a table down the road where mates played in Bills yard ...hence billiards! However, the French word ʹbillartʹ meaning a wooden stick, or ʹbilleʹ meaning a ball, have more definitive claims to the origin of the word billiards. Either way, during the 16th Century the cue stick was introduced with a better streamlined shape than the back end of a mace for striking balls. BUT initially women were not permitted to use this piece since it was reckoned they would be prone to tearing the green surface cloth. These days in Manila there are hundreds of excellent women pool players and in 2009 a Filipina Rubilen Amit won the Womenʹs World 10-Ball Championship.
The famous English playwright William Shakespeare mentions the game of pool in his works, and his line “letʹs to billiards” in Anthony and Cleopatra in 1607 even fuelled the fires of claims to the origins of the game to the Egyptians from thousands of years ago. By the late 17th Century in the first English book of Billiard Rules it is noted that there were only a few common halls “which hath not a publick Billiard-Table.” The game appears to have been introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish Era, and then blossomed into fame with the American Occupation after 1901. Throughout the islands the game is played at all levels of society. The swish Polo Club in Makati even has its featured pool table, and so too does the remote village far from the madding crowds.
The inventory list of King Louis XI of France records his purchase of a billiards table and billiard balls “for pleasure and amusement” in his court. These kings of France kept up with this tradition, since it is documented that Marie Antoinette, from the era of Louis XVI, was also a keen billiards player. Napoleon Bonaparte was another mainstream French enthusiast. It was another Frenchman who was responsible for the invention and perfection of the leather cue-tip. Captain Mingaud, Imprisoned in the French Revolution, and having access to a billiards table from his cell, he even extended his incarceration so that he could complete his billiards cue task. The leather cue-tip was perfected by 1823, and by then chalk was already used to improve friction.
Once the leather cue-tip was all the rage way back in the 19th century it wasnʹt long before chalking the tip became the way to gain improved friction and great control of the billiard ball. It took a bunch of Englishmen visiting the United States to teach American players how to perfect the spin on the ball...which became known as applying “English”, which is common lingo now heard when listening to all commentary about Billiards and Pool matches on TV. In 1826 John Thurston, an Englishman, invented the slate table bed, which was a massive improvement on warping wooden table bases. By 1845 Thurston the patent for pool table cushions that he made from rubber, cork and leather. Then Charles Goodyear introduced the vulcanization of rubber, and the modern cushion was born.
With the invention of vulcanized rubber by Charles Goodyear used for the side cushions,and John Thurstonʹs slate for the tables, by the later half of the 19th Century the evolution and the perfection of the billiard table had been well developed. In the mean time billiard ballas had seen their own evolution, having been made of stone, wood and even clay before the balls were perfected out of ivory. Eventually a number of tons of elephant tusks arrived in London, and thousands of elephants were being slaughtered for many different ivory products. Only about 6 billiard balls could be made out of a single tusk. This all became far too infra-dig, and celluloid and then Phenolic Resin arrived and came to the rescue of that side of elephant slaughtering at least.
The Philippines is essentially a catholic country, and low and behold, Pope Pius IX was himself a spirited billiard player. He had a billiard table set up in the Vatican, and used to play with the Swiss guards on a regular basis. He was born in 1792 and was Pope for 32 years from 1846 till his demise in 1878. Other public and famous figures who have been associated with the game of billiards and pool include the actor Paul Newman, the singer Bob Dylan, the writer Mark Twain, another actor Bruce Willis. The fact of the matter is that there are also many different types of the game coming under the banner of the names billiards and pool. There are also umpteen sizes of tables, cue sticks and a whole menagerie of possibilities for everyone to get involved.