Quiz Nights around the World: Cebu City, Philippines

In April of this year, my travels took me to Cebu City in the Philippines. I wasn’t there for quiz business, but why not make the most of the opportunity…

I discovered a company called Cebu Trivia Nights and once it was clear that everything at their quiz night would be in English, I managed to organise a team of colleagues to go along. I was particularly satisfied that the quiz was being held at a restaurant that was, so I was told, famous for its crispy pork.

This was a quiz night unlike any other I have ever attended. This was to be no typical pen and paper quiz. Each team had a small whiteboard and a marker pen. All answers were to be written on the whiteboard, and held aloft after 10 seconds, at which point the glamorous assistants around the room looked around to work out who had got the answer correct and updated their scoresheets there and then. After each question the whiteboard gets wiped clean ready for the next question.

The quiz was split up into rounds (or “sets” as the host called them) with varying numbers of questions, but on a generally very specific topic. The host was amusingly camp, and an excellent presenter, and I think he may have also been the question writer (at least judging by the first two topics of the evening). The night I was there, the topics included: Characters from ‘The Sound of Music’, Contents of ladies’ handbags, Corporate Headquarters, Famous Explorers, Figures of Speech, In the News, and various others that I can’t recall now (but all, bar one, very accessible to a non Filipino like me).

There was a good variation in question difficulty – but a couple on the Figures of Speech round struck me for being extremely tricky. This is a topic I am quite good on, having done Latin and Greek A-Levels and enjoyed collecting a range of little-known terms for different figures of speech. I was very very surprised not to be the only person in the room to know Synechdoche and Tmesis.

My main frustration with the quiz was that every question was “either you know it or you don’t”. And because the answer to each question had to be given within 10 seconds there was very little time for conferring (more a case of thrusting the whiteboard and pen at the team member who looked the most likely to know it), and absolutely no time for trying to work something out or dig it out from the recesses of memory. For me, this is one of the joys of quizzing – working stuff out, rather than just knowing something straight off. I think this kind of quick-fire quiz is fun, but I would always enjoy a bit more variety in the pacing of the quiz.

Despite this frustration, I absolutely loved the quiz, as did the rest of the crowd, and these guys clearly have a massive following in Cebu and beyond. It was very interesting to take part in a quiz that operates in a completely different way to what we are familiar with in the UK.

The closest we come to this kind of “instant feedback” quiz is interactive keypads, which we use in some higher-end company quiz nights but we tend to use them in moderation and only for very specific types of round, rather than for the sake of the technology. For example, we’d use them to reward teams specifically for speed of response with their correct answers, or to allow them to gamble points on each question.

Does the instant whiteboard answering quiz format sound like something you would enjoy?

3 replies
  1. Jewel
    Jewel says:

    Thank you soo much! This is one of the most wonderful post about Cebu Trivia Night. I especially like this part – “at which point the glamorous assistants around the room looked around to work out who had got the answer correct.. ” LOL!

    By the way, the glamorous assistants also make the questions. 😉

    Thanks again!

    Cebu Trivia Night

  2. admin
    admin says:

    Multitasking glamorous assistants!

    Glad you enjoyed the write-up, and good luck for the ongoing success of the business.

    You have no idea how happy I was to discover I could go to a quiz night while in Cebu!

  3. Jigs Arquiza
    Jigs Arquiza says:

    Cebu Trivia Night is a very popular form of , shall I say, “alternative nightlife” here in Cebu. I’m proud to be a follower of Alexis (the host) and Jewel and Leica (the glamorous, multi-tasking assistants and creators of Cebu Trivia Night). Jewel and Leica also contribute to my newspaper section, Sun.Star Weekend (www.sunstar.com.ph), where they take care of the questions on “Pop Quiz”, which comes out whenever the girls have time to think up questions. LOL. More power and congratulations to CTN!


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