Native Filipino Games

The new generation of kids are losing out. Prime example: my li’l sis. It’s the middle of summer and she’s hating it. She’s bored. She does nothing all day but watch television and play games on my computer. She wants summer to be over NOW so she can go back to school and have classes all day.

I don’t get it. Bored? During summer? Impossible! When I was a kid, I loved summers. Summer meant going to the beach. Summer meant sleeping all morning. Summer meant outdoor games. Summer meant F-U-N.

I remember playing patintero (also known as tubigan) with my cousins. We would play during the night, under the light of the full moon. We always had a pail of water and tabo nearby, so that we could mark out our territories every 10 minutes or so when the wet lines turned dry. Usually my team would win because I had very long arms, and I could “out” or “tag” anybody trying to run past me. Unfortunately also, this resulted in disgruntled cousins telling me I couldn’t play with them anymore because I was too old. Then I would get mad and throw the pail of water at them and then we’d all have a big water fight.

Another favorite was tumbang preso, where we would take turns in trying to hit an old empty can with a tsinelas, or slipper. I forget now what would happen when somebody missed. All I remember is how fun it was, and how mad my mother would be when I came home dirty, smelling like the sun, and refusing to take a bath because I was too tired to do anything but sleep.

Then there was Chinese. I don’t know what it was really called but we called it Chinese because the main ingredient was the Chinese garter. To play it, one person on each side has to pull the garter taut, and one person jumps over it. It was a girl’s game, but the boys loved to watch. What is it about boys and peeking at panties anyway? (I’ve never had the urge to peek at briefs, just so you know!)

And so many more games like palo sebo (greased pole), langit o lupa (heaven or earth), escondihan (hide and seek), sipa (something like sepak takraw), luksong tinik (jumping over pairs of hands), sisira ang bulaklak (chasing each other around)…

So how could summer ever be boring? Kids these days… How about you? What’s your favorite native game?

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  1. True. No amount of hi-tech gaming (what with the advent of on-line gaming, PS2s, and what-have-yous) can replace the fun native games have brought to our generation. I’m a child of the early 80s, too, a few years before Nintendo Family Computer reached the Philippine shores.

    What I value most in playing native games is the social skills it introduces to the kids–how to have teamwork, how to play fair, how to accept victory graciously,and how to lose without losing face. Fail to learn these skills and you’ll spend a few days or weeks being the group’s outcast. :)

  2. wow, the times they are a changin’. kids don’t want summer now? i used to look forward to it.

  3. my fave game was tagu-taguan. i liked the chant. hehe.
    about chinese garter, remember “jumper” where you had to jump over the garter without making it move. one time, fatima nandu was at her turn just when michelle taup (God bless her soul) was walking by. they colided and fatima ended up with broken front teeth that she had to bear with all her life. ouch!
    yeah, our childhood games were so much more exciting.