MANILA, Philippines - Education officials in a
southern Philippine province have banned spider
wrestling, a favorite children's pastime in many rural
areas, to discourage students from skipping classes to
catch spiders, an official said Thursday.
The ban began last week after education officials noticed
that an increasing number of absences among school
children were traced to the game, said Isidro Valeroso,
superintendent of the Department of Education in North
Cotabato province. Valeroso said spider wrestling, in
which children collect spiders and have them fight to the
death on a stick, also encourages children to gamble.
The spiders wrestle ferociously for a few seconds amid
the cheers of children. The battle ends when the champion
completely wraps the vanquished spider in a cocoon of
webbing. Children often bet on the outcome. Children
usually go to meadows or farms at dawn or dusk to catch
spiders, sometimes skipping classes or coming in late.
They usually house their best "gladiators" in
Many aficionados spend large amounts of time searching
for the best spiders. Most of the spiders are collected
from trees but some children say the best fighters are
found on electric power lines. A prized fighter sells for
up to 100 pesos ($2.40).
"We have to teach children that spiders are a
farmer's best friend because they catch insects that
destroy or damage crops," Valeroso said. "We
really have to stop children from killing spiders."