Friday, March 27, 2009

Traditional Filipino Games (Larong Pinoy)



marikina cityAs a young child growing up in the Philippines, I remember a lot of interaction with peers, friends, relatives, and just other people in general. And one of those ways of interacting, or form of socializing, was through games--and in particular, traditional Filipino games.

As you might imagine, being accustomed to such socialization and that type of cohesive culture plus having such moments strongly embedded as part of my formative childhood years, the migration to the US when I was eight years old shocked and transformed me into a whole other animal.

Gone were the familiar faces and the familiar ways of the Filipino. Gone were the friends, cousins, and relatives. Gone were the birthday fiestas. Gone were the play-filled afternoons. Gone were the socializing and interaction. Gone was the sun. Gone was the Philippines.

I was now alone in black and white America. Friends? Cousins? Games? Gone. Americans sit on the couch and play video games. You want a physical game? In America, you can pay a monthly fee and join a team, where a coach will bark at you, where team mates will give you a hard time for being a loser or sucking at the sport, and where the competitive stress overwhelms the whole joy from playing the game.

Whatever happened to just playing for fun? What ever happened to...

Taguan (hide and seek)--when my friends and I would slyly find the perfect hiding spot, agilely and acrobatically molding ourselves to the locale, silently waiting... the excitement building. Until wah! We're found, with so much laughter ensuing from the joy of this game and with others to play with. And the more people there were, the merrier!

Sipa. The national game/sport. Simply made with a washer and cloth or even with a metal bottle cap and plastic strips through its center (or even rattan strips made into a ball), this game is a test of speed, agility, and control in which the player(s) kick the ball repeatedly without having it touch the ground or kick the ball to each other until someone fails to keep it from hitting the ground.

We were active; we played in the sun. We played patintero (tubigan or harangang taga), Chinese garter, habulan (taya or chase), luksong lubid (jump rope), agawan base (agawang sulok), piko (buan-buan or hop scotch), luksong baka (literally, "leap cow"), and luksong tinik. We used our muscles to jump, run, and just move. Never was it a chore. The school system never needed to worry about obese, diabetic, inactive children. It was daily exercise that was fun and never had to be forced.

We played simple games using simple objects. We played with sticks, stones, cans, balls... There was no need for expensive, fancy gadgets, play grounds, or video game systems to keep us entertained. What was the need? We had each other!

We played holen (jolens or marbles), jack stone (siklot, jacks), sungkit-goma (rubber bands), chato (siyato or shatong, stick flinging), and tumbang preso (tama tsinelas or presohan, basically targeting cans with slippers).

I remember playing teks (cards with cartoon characters on it, eg. X-men), pogs, and trumpo (spinning top). My schoolmates and I would collect such things and play with each other after school before going home.

Birthday parties or fiestas were always something to look forward to. Everyone would be there--friends, relatives, neighbors. It made the day different from others, where unlike overseas, it's usually just like any other day. Childhood games that would be played during such occasions include paluan ng palayok (piƱata using a clay pot), luksong sako (sack race), sayaw ng bangko (musical chairs), and takip silim (langit lupa). There was sound in these events. People laughing, talking, cheering. There was music playing. It was noisy, and we loved it.

Even on rainy days, we kept ourselves occupied. You would never hear the American kid's phrase/whine "I'm bored..." from our mouths. When the weather was not cooperative outside, we made our own fun indoors, playing games like sungka, baraha (cards), eroplanong papel (paper airplane), and chopstick (pick-up sticks).

And actually, if it wasn't too stormy, even when it rained we would still be playing outside! My cousins and I would dance in the rain and stand beneath the rushing water of the roof gutters. And when the rain stopped, the water left behind made perfect little "rivers" for our bangka bangkaan (bangkang papel, paper boat).

We were one with nature. Not including sleep, we spent more time outside than we did indoors. And that's how it should be! Today, here in the US, virtually the only time I spend outside is when I have to get into my car in order to go to work or school. In the Philippines we used to akyat ng puno (climb trees) and catch abaw (beetle) and salaginto (June bug). We chased tutubi (dragonfly) and tipaklong (grasshopper) in the bukid (fields). And we refreshed ourselves and rekindled our energy at the nearest bomba (water from well-pump). We used to play pitik in which we flicked at honeysuckle flowers to see who could be the first to remove all petals. And then we'd sip on its sweet nectar. And if the wind was blowing, we'd play with the breeze by flying a burador or saranggola (kite).

And games need not be only for the children. I think games should be played by adults as well (like they are in the Philippines), as it's good for the mind and body regardless of the age. Not only that, but it also maintains a social connection through friendships, camaraderie, and interaction, and it also counterbalances work/school to prevent it from consuming our lives (like what has happened to me).

Adolescents and adults in the Philippines remain active and often gather at plazas or get together elsewhere to play games/sports like basketbol (basketball), badminton, and putbol (international football, aka soccer). Bilyar (bilyard, or billiards/pool) is also often played and for the many who can't afford a real billiards set and table, they improvise by creating makeshifts by creating a square wooden table and using plastic pucks as "balls."

The games were one of our most powerful instruments--in communicating, connecting, and interacting with each other. It kept us together.

No one was ever left behind. Even when we went biking, we would angkas (hitch) our friends--on the bars of the backwheel, the front wheels, the handle bars, and the bar in between (we were talented!). In fact, sometimes one would do the steering and the other would do the pedaling. We worked together, we would enjoy the journey together, and we would all get to our destination together. And that's what I lost when I left the Philippines long ago.

Our activities nourished us, heart and soul. We were healthy. This is the way our children and their children should grow up. The games we played were not only an important part in our learning process as children, but they had a positive influence on our physical, mental, emotional, and moral being. And these are benefits that can be reaped throughout our adulthood and our entire lives, if only we would seek it, revive it, and maintain it, if we are not doing so already.

Do you remember those times? Or have you forgotten over the years/decades? But they're there, forever, in our most deepest memories. Do you miss it?

I've missed it. I've been missing it for more than fifteen years... throughout my later childhood, adolescent life, until now... I still miss it...

Can we go back? Can we relive? Yes, most definitely, we can. If you really want to do it, if you really want to go back, if you really want to see the homeland and your people once again, you will return like I will. Even if it means less money, so be it... because Happiness has no price anyways.

And so, I'll meet you there!

44 comments:

Goddy said...

Hi there! I enjoyed reading your piece. It made me feel real nostalgic! I remember the good old days when I was worry-free. I never left the country but leaving my hometown (Gapan, Nueva Ecija) for Olongapo to work (U.S. Naval Base in Subic Bay) made me feel just the way you felt when you migrate to the U.S. So many things--childhood friends, neighbors, all those games you mentioned, all those familiar things and people in my life (except my loved ones, of course)--were gone. And, oh! How I miss them all! Thanks for your wonderful post. It brought me back to the time when I was happier. - Goddy

Sidney said...

Nice pictures of those children having fun !

jose_joel said...

ive been a follower of your blog for years. but i must say this one touched me the most. i just graduated from college and am working in the metro. reading your post took me years back to my early chilhood days back in the grumpy manila alleys and windy cavite streets. as i was reading your blog i was transported back to my childhood and i almost cried. now im gonna contact my childhood friends and ask them to set a date when we can play our childhood games again... if you ever get back here and want to play these games just contact me and ill be more than happy to supply you with kalaros. thanks!

biyahengpinoy said...

i thought my childhood was so boring, but after reading this post and musch thinking, i realized that my childhood was a blast. i've played every single game mentioned in this post.

thank you for visiting my blog.

Katz said...

Nakakatuwa. I remember playing some of those games (although not everyday was fun because when you play rough with guys, you get bruises and all that). But apart from traditional games, I also remember playing Nintendo in grade school! Thank God, I grew up learned to read books instead hehe...

charmie tamba said...

hey! love your post!

i was googling for filipino games we can use during our homecoming this year when i stumbled on your site... :) nice one!!! been feeling the same way too!!! i had a really really fun childhood in zamboanga (actually even until highschool)... it all ended when i moved to manila for college and work....

now iv made a choice similar to yours... iv moved back to zamboanga to settle here for good and hope to raise a family soon... :D i just wish my kids would also experience what i had in my childhood... it was really really awesome! ;D

charmie tamba said...

hey! love your post!

i was googling for filipino games we can use during our homecoming this year when i stumbled on your site... :) nice one!!! been feeling the same way too!!! i had a really really fun childhood in zamboanga (actually even until highschool)... it all ended when i moved to manila for college and work....

now iv made a choice similar to yours... iv moved back to zamboanga to settle here for good and hope to raise a family soon... :D i just wish my kids would also experience what i had in my childhood... it was really really awesome! ;D

Niles said...

Man, I just gotta say, we have like the same life story! In a nutshell: Have a blast in the Philippines for a good number of years, and then for some odd reason move to America, where we'd (we, meaning everyone out there who knows they can relate to this entry) hang around, wasting time you could be spending being happy. And then, going back to the place one can truly call home! Family, friends, everything. Happily ever after!

Sometimes I really wonder why our close ancestors moved to America. Opportunity? Exciting experiences? If it's true, it wasn't worth it. We share the same presentiment about leaving everything we loved and still do, and that's what touched me the most, it's the fact that someone out there was able to tell our story in such a great way! I know I've said a lot, but I haven't said nearly enough! You absolutely hit the nail on the head in this entry.

Philippines, here I come, this time to stay! See ya there!

Anonymous said...

these traditional filipino games really brighten up my childhood memories...i remembered when i was in elementary, walking without sleepers after nang maghapong laro sa skul.well, minsan lang maging bata!

Anonymous said...

This is a nice blog, I just can say that we Filipinos are so blessed having the opportunities to experience those simple but fun-filled games. We moved here to the US now and being a mom, sometimes I feel bad for my daughter coz for her to have someone to play with aside from me and her dad, I need to set play-date with other kids, go to the park, go to playgrounds, unlike before when I was a kid, my playmates were just right beside our house, we can play anytime we want to play.

Anyway, maybe my daughter will not have the same experiences but I'm certain that her childhood will be be filled with happy memories too :)

Anonymous said...

love your post... those were the days that I missed so much...

see you there!

gentots said...

geesh! i wish i could write like this...i can only write with full emotions in filipino, but when i use english all feelings are lost!

nice one...*kudos to you*

i miss being a child *sniffs* :)))

Edward said...

I blog this article though I am not a good blogger. I used the backlink from this article. Thanks for writing this one.

Anonymous said...

i love this article..

Jhebe said...

Well, all we can do now is to reminisce the past. That's why for those who are young, you should enjoy every minute and play all those tiring games for you cannot do this for sure when you are old!=)

Anonymous said...

The best years of my life was playing on the streets until wee hours. No expensive toys back then. With a piece of chalk or even a piece of a broken clay pot (paso), a cheap plastic ball, rubber bands, or even small can of evap or condensed milk, presto! the game is on! O how I miss those days ;)

chetzmosa said...

I had fun reading this entry.. It reminded me of my childhood years, the fun times. I agree with your nostalgia. I felt the same way when i migrated to the US. I even tried to recreate the same experience when i got here... But it wasnt the same. It wasnt home. The people are different. Everyone's caught up with work. I share your sentiments. My husband and i always talk about our childhood years because it was fun and memorable.

Anonymous said...

haha, very informative and i was amazed of your memory, after the very long years, still you were able to remember all those games...I enjoyed reading your article dude :p...very nostalgic moments. Affirmed, the true essence of HAPPINESS is really priceless...

jes said...

wow,, love reading your blog,, i missed the old days with my friends playing in the rain,, simple but overwhelming.

Observer said...

hi, maybe you'd be happy to know we have traditional games played in the Philippines during summer....we invite children over to Museo Pambata to learn and play traditional games..i enjoyed this article...written in 2009 but still great to read..thanks for sharing your childhood.

janjan said...

I was looking for larong pinoy when my search lead me to your blog. I read it and I can't help but feel the nostalgia. I just realized how happy my childhood was. Unlike today, I can see all my pamangkins fighting over a computer or TV. I'm glad I was born in the 80s. I get to enjoy all of these things.

Anonymous said...

man i really miss those days....so sad the present generation haven't experience it...

Anonymous said...

Howdy, YA'LL!!!Hey kababayan! It was nice reading your post. I am an expat living in Austin, TX but grew up in Bataan, next to Subic. My family had moved to the US since the fall of the Marcos regime. But growing up in the province and reading about your blog, makes me reminisce the "good ole days."

As I venture to start my own family here, I would like to be able to teach my kids the games that we played as kids, namely the ones you've aforementioned. Being traditionally Catholic, I also miss the Holy week and Christmas celebrations that we had in the P.I. Here in the US, it is all about commercialism and the "bottom line."

Congrats on your endeavor back home. I hope someday I can bring my kids and spend the summers back home and go to our mango plantations in the mountains so they can ride the carabao-pulled carretas.

BTW, did you mention the "tirador" and this game which name I forgot. But you have a ellipsoidal hole on the ground and you put a smaller piece or wooden rod there. You hold a longer wooden rod and you strike the smaller one that is in the hole on the ground, to make the smaller one go up in the air. And while it is suspended in the air, you use the longer wooden stick to hit the smaller one as far as you can. I used to be bad-ass at this game....sadly I dont remember the game anymore.

Thanks,
Giovanni Paolo Altobelli

Anonymous said...

nice blog...brings me back to my inner childish feelings...just like to mention some other traditional pinoy games such as "bending bodies (using slipper), pating-patingan, monkey-annabelle, kalog (using 3 pcs of tansan) and touching ball" as additional...proud to be born during the late 60's!

Anonymous said...

ang sarap ng feeling ko while reading your articles about our child hood....

Anonymous said...

these really gave me a wonderful view of our past and present..though I'm at my late fourtys..ouch!!!can we go back to those days!!!..Luv reading this article..memories lingers...pati yung mga comments....worth reading...good job!!!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully crafted :)

Maritess Silverio said...

I truly enjoyed reading your article. That brings back memories of my energetic,hyper and fun childhood.

Michelle Carurucan said...

i love the post, it made me realize how lucky i am to be a filipino. I love Philippines! I'm proud to be a Filipino
 

Reneth said...

I just came accross your blog for we are doing a presentation about child-play in our country. Thanks for doing this....we sure enjoyed the blog and remembering the olden days.

Brucewaynebenjo said...

thank you for this article. one of the reasons why we refused to leave the country for work is about just that. Less money, more life.  come back.

Shiela said...

This brings me back to my childhood days and the fun and the laughter. I miss my homeland. 

suziel said...

This is a wonderful article. It brings me back to my childhood days. True we spend more time outside than indoors. I have a 4yr old son and I want him to experience some of these games. Tumbang preso is no.1 in the list.

suziel said...

This is a wonderful article. Every word brings me back to my childhood memories. 2
thumbs up!

suziel said...

This is a wonderful article. It brings me back to my childhood days. True we spend more time outside than indoors. I have a 4yr old son and I want him to experience some of these games. Tumbang preso is no.1 in the list.

Bilay79 said...

very nice article!

mon said...

 sir it's called "SIYATO"

dekhl said...

this article are all so true and im very proud to say i did experience all of those games and i realy wish to impart it to my kids by going home and have them experience how much fun i had as a child.

Bluelinead said...

nice aricle... truly awakening. today's children really miss a lot. i love to think that one day everything will go back. ang sarap maging batang pinoy. thanks for this sir.

urugyas said...

nice article! I did not left the Philippines but still i am missing the games we used to play here in Borongan way back the 80's. And this led me also to a little research for different games we have here in Eastern Samar, ..even for more primitive games and toys from our ancestors like batso, kasing, kuslim, kudu.. to name some. That later on.. we decided to try to revive the games through a humble "sport fest" in 2007 and named it "URUGYAS" a term in our dialect that we use when 3 or several person are playing ...Hopefully we all succeed our dreams for our traditions to regain its power! :D.

marby said...

Wow! Super like! I really miss those days..

y3y8games said...

This is so wonderful article. I have experienced almost all the Filipino traditional games in my childhood and I really really missed everything in the past, if given a chance to go back to my childhood times then why not! But the technology nowadays are so strong specially for kids who loves computer and the games on it like y3 games. This will help our kids motivate and think wisely.

detdet_kulet :) said...

perfect! :) we can use this on our thesis :D

Joan Rabino said...

very inspiring blog!

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