are a universal phenomena. Adult and children alike maintain their own kind
of games played at certain points in their lives. In its early development,
it is noted that gaming is intended primarily for amusement and played
whenever suitable opportunities arise. Scholars assess that games are
frequently simplified and are secularized ceremonies of older culture.
studies of games have brought us to the point of identifying these remnants
of older cultures. Most of the researches on the games have given us
knowledge on the origins of the games, how these were institutionalized and
how these developed through time.
Games among the people of
Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao share a commonality. The games selected here are
traditionally distributed all over the country and played by both sexes, at
certain ages. Toys and implements used in the games are also presented.
The Filipino 'Laro'
In the book 'A
study of Philippine Games' (1980), author Mellie Leandicho Lopez noted that
'laro' is the Filipino generic term for all forms of recreational play. The
closest word term for the game is the 'palaro' referring to a group of
special occasion games that take place during wakes, festivals and town
fiestas. This would also refer to games that are competitive in nature where
each contest is always brought to a conclusion.
Major studies of games
pointed out that traditional games are shared communally within Philippine
context. The same situation exists in neighboring countries, specially
It is also commonly known
that games play an important part in the learning process of the child. This
educational influence of games on the physical, mental, and moral vitality
of a child is a factor why games in the country are still being practiced
and observed by the general public.
In this connection, the
family plays a very important role in the transmission of traditional games
on to their children. The family, specifically the parents, reinforce the
child's learning process. Psychologically, it helps the child in building up
himself to use all possibilities that will make him grow normal. Lopez also
observed that the normal child's natural interests lead him to different
types of games at different periods of his development.
The family is a social
agent that builds the development of each member of the household. As
traditionally practiced in the Philippines and the neighboring countries,
children learn from their parents. It is the obligation of the parents to
help their children learn social customs, standards and values of his
culture. This system is also shared by other members of the family,
relatives, and, by and large, the members of the community, speeding up the
learning process of any child. Also, with this frame of attitude,
preservation of tradition is enhanced, and the children benefit from it. It
is in this process that whatever they learned is right away integrated into
Malay (1956) pointed out
that 'Filipinos like to play game,' and this is observed true. Traditional
and hightech games are simultaneously played around the country. As part of
Filipino pastime, specially in the rural areas and during moonlit nights,
the neighborhood gathers and shares games in the plazas, open areas, and
main roads, trying different sets of games and interacting with each other
as part of their recreation, socialization, and relaxation after a hard
12 Philippine Games
The selection is based on
the premise that these games share commonality around the country and that
of their neighboring Asian countries. Majority of these are common or
ordinary games utilizing physical strength, and classified as mock warfare,
racing games and formula games, most making use of dexterity and skill.
1. Patintero (block
the enemy game) - This game is played by boys and girls, ages 5 to 10 years
old in mixed teams. Adults though tend to rank themselves according to sex.
There are two sets of this game. One requires six players to a team while
the other needs eight players. The game is played outdoor at anytime of the
day and at night when the moon is out.
The game is prepared on the
ground by drawing a rectangular field (usually five to six meter with four
parallel lines inside) using either water, stick and charcoal on the ground
to define the boundary. To play, one set of taggers or the 'it' situate
themselves inside the lines of the rectangle while the runners will try to
get through both ends of the field and back without being tagged or blocked.
When caught, they right away change roles. The group that has lesser tagged
incidents is declared winner. The games is widespread in Luzon, Visayas, and
2. Karera ng Baong
Sangko (coconut shell stilts race) - This game is designed for racing.
This game requires two or more chidlren of both sexes ages between 7 to 12
years old or much older. This game uses coconut shells with string of abaca
rope inserted into the eyes of the shells. The strings are measured to the
height of the user. A set of starting and finish lines are drawn. The
players, with their feet on the coconut shells stilts, run at full speed to
the finish line.
3. Luksong Lubid
(jump rope) - This is another common game played only by girls between the
ages of 5 to 15. This is usually played outdoors when the weather is good
and indoors during the rainy season. The length of the abaca rope depends on
the players involved. The game is played first using two 'its' who are
replaced after a player touches the rope with his feet.
4.Taguan (hide and
seek) - This game has no limit to both boys and girls of ages between 5 to
15. This is played outdoors during daytime and on moonlit nights. Children
are most often discouraged by parents partly due to a belief in unseen
spirits that might harm their children. The game starts in an unidentified
base where the 'it' closes his eyes and counts to 100 while the other
players start hiding. After the count, the 'it' start looking for the rest
of the players. Once found, one is automatically out of the game. In some
provinces though, once a player is found, the 'it' will have to run to the
base and touch it while the found player tries to beat him to it. When the
found player beats the 'it,' he remains 'it' until everyone else is located.
5. Kolyahan ng Sarangola
(kite fight) - This is a game of dexterity and skills at manipulating
high-flown kites. Kiting is one the old games found in the repertoire of
Philippine games. This particular game is played by boys, ages seven and
older, outdoors during summer (March to June in most provinces and extended
to the month of October in other areas). The game is played by two groups
using their kites: either a big one (gorion) or a small one (small kite) to
engage in the 'kolyahan.' The players would try to damage the each other's
kite while avoiding damages to their own kites.
This game needs preparation
since the kite's string is coated with powdered glass, to help cut the
strings of the opponent's kite. The owner of the kite that is damaged and
plunges to the ground loses.
6. Dama (checkers) -
This is another familiar game and familiar pastime.that uses skill, usually
played by males 10 years old and above, and played either indoors or
outdoors. The game is played on a small wooden board with 10 squares and 14
end points. The checkers (dama) pieces are comprised of 24 pitsas made from
pieces of small bamboo, stones, or bottles caps, with the players having 12
pieces each. The players position the 12 pieces of pitsa on the end points
of the diagram. The players move alternately from from point to point. Like
chess, the game ends once the opponents pitsas are captured or literally
eaten, especially the dama or queen.
7. Turumpo (top) -
This is a popular game throughout the country. Each province has its own
shape and style of top but the most beautiful and biggest are those found
among the Maranao of Mindanao. The game is done with ordinary skill in order
to manipulate the top. The top is usually made of soft wood for those used
in regular games and hardwood for heavy competition. The top is played by
winding the meter-long string around the top. The top is held between two
fingers and the thumb and thrown to the ground. The competition is of two
kinds. One is to inflict damage on the opponent's top-- the top that
receives the heavy damage lose the game. The other one is to keep it
spinning for the longest time-- the one that spins the longest wins.
8. Yoyo - According
to early researchers and documents, this particular piece of instrument was
not intended for game purposes but as instrument in hunting or capturing
animals and as self-defense. Presently, yoyo is made of wood and acrylic
plastic though before it was made of carabao horn, ivory, silver, and even
The game is quite new,
played alone or by two, outdoors or indoors, by young and adult alike of
both sexes. The mechanics of the game is simple, the players only have to
outwit the opponent in reeling the yoyo continuously without interruption.
If the opponent did not complete the required style, e.g. 'around the
world,' 'walking the dog,' and loses momentum, or his yoyo stops in the
process, then he loses the match.
9. Sipa (rattan
football) - This is a common game that requires kicking skills. The game is
played outdoors during daytime with young adults participating in the game
varying in numbers from two, four, and eight players. Like the ball in the
volleyball game, the rattan ball is kicked by the players to their opponents
who kick it back and so forth. The ball should never touch any parts of the
body except the knee down to the toes.
10. Palo Sebo
(climbing a greased bamboo contest) - It traces its origins to a similar
game widely played in the Visayas that had men racing up a greased coconut
tree. It is also similar to the 'Pinang' game of Java, Indonesia. The game
is played by young males and generally done in an open space during fiestas
and other celebrations. A long polished bamboo pole greased with oil is
planted on the ground with the prize placed at the topmost of the pole. All
players, whether individually or as a team, try to climb the pole for the
prize. The prize, usually cash, is increased depending on the sponsor's
11. Luksong Tinik
(thorn hurdles). This is a very common game played largely by girls ages
between 7 to 12, though, in some areas, boys join in. This game is played
outside with players divided into sets, comprising of the mother ('inay) and
her child ('anak'). The 'it' are two players who seat facing each other,
stacking their feet and hands together, gradually increasing the height
while the opponents jump over it. Any 'child' player who touches any part of
this hurdle is saved by the 'mother' who would jump on the former's behalf.
If she, too, fails to accomplish the feat, both 'mother' and 'child' becomes
the 'it' who would assume the seated position.
12. Sunka or chongca,
sungca, sunkaan, sunca, tsunka (board game) - This is another set of
game widely distributed in the country and the rest of Southeast Asia. This
game is played both outdoors and indoors and is played by both children and
adults. This is played by two players with a wooden pea-pod shaped board
with seven small holes in rows on each side, and a big hole on each end
filled with an equal number of 'sigays' (small shells). Each player takes
turns picking up from any hole on his/her side, putting one 'sigays' in the
small/big hole to his/her left, then picks up all the 'sigays' from the last
hole that the last sigay is put and places them in the big hole to his/her
left. This is repeated until one person no longer has any 'sigays' to play
with and is declared the loser. The person with the most number of sigays is
declared the winner.