What were your favorite games as a child? Whether it’s playing a game of tag or hide and seek, it’s no doubt you’ve had fun playing with other kids on the street or on the playground. Here in the Philippines, many can gladly look back to the years sans smartphones, video games, and computers, playing a variety of games (or ‘laro’) with other children in the community.
According to the book “A Study of Philippine Games” by author Mellie Leandicho Lopez, ‘laro’ is defined as a generic term, encompassing all types of recreational play. Many of these characterized by their shared experiences taking place within the community, similar to other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia. In the process of a child’s growth, these games would contribute many Filipinos’ physical, mental, and moral development.
Let’s take a look at 6 popular street games which have been played by many Filipinos for generations:
A rather easy game, tumbang preso means “knock down the prisoner” when roughly translated to English. Despite its rather harsh name, it’s a relatively harmless game that has the player who is “it” guard an empty can, with the opposing players taking turns trying to knock it down with their own slippers.
Once a player gets to hit the tin can, the one who’s “it” will put it back in its position. However, should one fail, he or she will then become the next “it”.
This is one highly popular game you will still likely come across on the streets of many Filipino neighborhoods. Involving many kids, it divides players into 2 teams – one defending, and one opposing.
Each member of the defending team has to guard their own positions, marked by a horizontal line drawn by chalk. Meanwhile, the opposing team has to cross all these said lines and head back without getting caught by anyone from the defending team. Once an opposing team player crosses a line however, it’ll be up for the player guarding the next line to tag him or her.
Often played by elementary schoolgirls, Chinese garter combines the fun of jump rope (but with the use of a long garter instead) with the slight challenge of the high jump. It comprises of two teams taking turns to play, starting off easy with the garter placed very near the floor.
In every round, each member of the playing team has to cross from one side to another by jumping over the garter. As the game progresses, it will then move higher and higher. Should one member fail to jump across, the opposing team will then get their turn to play.
Langit-lupa, or “heaven and earth” when roughly translated to English is a unique form of tag. Here, one player is tagged as “it”, staying on the “lupa” (in most cases, the street pavement) while chasing after other players looking to get to higher ground or “langit” (this could mean anything from a step on a staircase, to a tree.
The fun here comes when players have to get away from the one who’s “it” by transferring to another higher place.
Literally meaning “jump over a cow”, luksong baka requires a bit more physical strength than other games. One player who is assigned to be “it” plays the “cow”, crouching as low as he can while other players jump or leapfrog over him or her. As the game goes on, the person playing “it” rises up, making jumping over him/her a lot more challenging. As with tumbang preso, the person who fails will then become the next player tagged as “it”.
Agawan base literally means “seize the base”. It involves two teams, both of which have to guard their respective bases, which could be anything from a street sign, lamp post, or tree, or any similar place. Here, players have to tag the base of the opposing team without getting caught. Should one get tagged, he or she then becomes the “prisoner”, who can eventually be “rescued” by his/her fellow team members who are able to tag the base.
In the end, the team who tags the most times wins – the number of which can be agreed upon by the two teams.