29 July 2012

Who is Jack n' Poy? [did you know?]

Image from Wikipedia
"Jack n' Poy. Hale hale hoy! Sinong matalo, s'yang unggoy!"
(Jack and Poy. Holly holly hoy! Whoever loses, he's the monkey!)

If you're Filipino, you know how that chant goes, and what we do while chanting it.

Yup, in English, it's actually called the Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) game.

Of course, now, we also call it "Bato, Bato, Pick" (Rock, Rock, Pick) where basically we start out with two pumps of the rock (fist) before making our final pick between rock, paper, or scissors.

But did you know that RPS originated in China somewhere around the first century?

And then it was brought to Japan and almost instantly became very popular there in the 1700s?

Now, guess what they say, instead of "Bato, Bato, Pick."

It's "Janken Pon."  (Or sometimes, "Jaiken Pon," and a few other variants.)

And there goes the origin of "Jack n' Poy."

The "ken" there actually means fist. Prior to "janken," there were already actually many "ken asobi", or fist games, in Japan. "Pon" means stone, but the pronunciation is more based on its Chinese origins. "Jan" sort of means "start." So "janken pon" sort of means "starting with a stone/fist."  The game itself is just simply called "janken," and it is usually written in Hiragana (and not in Chinese characters or Kanji), i.e. じゃんけん.

So now, if you are a relatively new Filipino in Japan, don't be surprised when you hear Japanese play a game and say "jankenpon" and know exactly what to do. Right now, I forgot though if they do just one fist pump, or two like we do when we play "Bato, Bato, Pick," before making their final RPS selection.

Bonus Trivia: Rock can crush scissors, scissors cut paper, but how can paper beat rock? 

Rock supposedly can also destroy paper right? Well, the idea is, paper can cover rock. When you don't have a rock or any tool in sight, that rock or tool is practically of no use.

Sources: Wikipedia, and Tofugu.com.

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