philippine traditional children games

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May 1, 2004, 5:19:37 AM5/1/04
Childrens' Games
Added: March 15, 2001


Named Games | Unnamed Games | Hand/Word Games
Essay: Games We Used to Play - Cecilia Manguerra Brainard


Kids games are an important way kids learn to socialize and fit in to their
society and culture. Word games, especially, help children absorb language.

Most of the following games were recorded in Negros Occidental during the
Summer of 2000, and were added to by interested members of the USENET News
group, soc.culture.filipino, particularly games of the Tagalog region.

What is particularly striking are the hand/word games. Although these games
were found in a Bisayan-speaking region, they are multi-lingual incorporating
Tagalog, English, with some pseudo-Japanese and smatterings Hiligaynon and
nonsense words. This is probably indicative of the multi-lingual environments
these children live in, and the games are early practice helpful in noting and
adapting to subtle differences.

In addition to the games we collected, we included a 1987 essay by the writer
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard on childrens' games. In it, she talks about the
games she played as a child back home in Cebu.



Agawan Base
Agawan Bakal
The names for this game are Tagalog, used in the metro-Manila area, Agawan is a
form of tag similar to capture the flag but without flag. There are two groups.
One group tries to capture the base, the other group defends and captures the
other group. The winner is the group who either captures the base or by
successfuly attacking group. A player can get immunity from being tagged by
touching things such as metal.

Alagwa is an alternative Tagalog term (the other is Patintero) for Tubig-Tubig.
See "Tubig-Tubig."

Alagwa is also a term for when a kite gets caught in electric wires, tree
branches, rooftops, and other traps.

Anong Tawag Diyan
Possibly a kind of jump rope. No details available.

A variation of hopscotch. A rectangle with a triangle at one end with the
rectangle divided in half (the long way) and cross-divided into thrids for a
total of six squares. The players starts at the end opposite of the triangle,
and tosses a stone or other object into the first square, then jumps over that
square to the one beyond. If they land squarely in the square without stepping
on a line or landing outside the square, the stoop, pick up the tossing object
and repeat the process for the next square. The object is to go all around the
squares and rectangle.

Bato-Lata (rock-can)
A can is crushed in the middle and stood upright, and a rock is put on the top
so it would tend to topple. Players would toss rocks at the can, and points
would be awarded when they toppled the can.

Bottle Cap Golf
One or two lead nuts are put on a bottle cap to make it stabler and heavier.
Using their feet, players push the bottle cap into a hole on the ground. The
least "strokes" wins. When played on concrete grounds, small holes within the
concrete would be used.

Bulan Bulan
An alternative Cebauno name for Tubig-Tubig. See "Tubig-Tubig."

An alternative Cebauno name for Tubig-Tubig. See "Tubig-Tubig."

Chato is the long form of Syatong mostly played by smaller kids. Chato is a
very complicated game, in two parts. It is part baseball, part pato (played
with rocks) using a goal.

A rock is used to throw with a stick and hit, then the game changes. Players
are supposed to shout "chato" and carry the rock to a goal post, like American

An element of tag is also there, when carrying the rock you can capture enemies
and the captured gets "attached" to the post and when the opposing team takes
the rock they can free the captured by tagging them. The game can last for

This game can be rough, not suitable for younger children.

Chinese Garter
Chinese Jumprope
That one has just about disappeared since the rubber strips that were
originally uses are not available in stores anymore. Rubber bands were often
substituted sine the garters were too expensive for many players.

A very thin piece of rubber about 4-5 feet long is held between two players
while another jumps over it. Each time it's raised a little until the jumper
can't clear it. Then, they the jumper loses and has to replace one of the
holders. Usually done with teams of two.

Chinese Jackstones
Chinese Jackstones is similar to Jacks played in the United States and
elsewhere. Little metal stars are tossed to the ground, and a small ball is
bounced and while it is in the air, the player tries to pick up as many metal
stars as possible.

Chinese jackstones is sometimes played with little square bags of beans or
rice, but it's unclear how many bags are used. The player tosses them on the
ground and instead of bouncing a ball, the main sack is thrown in the air and
the player grabs the required bags on the ground depending on the playing
level. For the first level, the player grabs one bag for each toss; for the
second level, two bags are grabbed with each toss, and so on. There are also
special levels where the player has to do a trick while grabbing the bags.

Chinese Jumprope
See "Chinese Garter."

Computer Games
Nintendo64 today. Back a few years, it was Atari and that Famicon (predecessor
of 8-bit Nintendo). There's also the computer and a couple of fun games like
Millionaire and Carmen Sandiego.

A marble game. No description available.

Fighting Ants
Oh yeah, the big black ants as gladiators (or red ant baits). The antennae
would be removed, then watch them take each other apart. Dragonflies and
spiders can also be used to fight each other - what a cruel world, eh?

Handmade Kites
Handmade kites are still popular. Kids make paper kites from newspapers and
other scrap paper, and sticks.

Alagwa is a term for when a kite gets caught in electric wires, tree branches,
rooftops, etc. It is also the name of another game. See "Alagwa."

Hide 'n seek with tag
The standard hide 'n' seek except you need to tag the hider. The first one to
be found becomes "it."

There's also one where the "it" is blindfolded and spun around ten times,
while, in a limited "arena," other players find spots where they can't leave
but can move around only on one pivot foot. If the "it" manages to find a
player, the "it" still has to identify the player correctly; otherwise, the
player gets to move to another spot and the "it" goes on.

With this game, two players place a rubberband on a flat surface, such as a
table, and they take turns blowing their rubber band in the direction of their
opponents rubberband. The object is for a player to blow their rubberand on top
of their opponents. The first to do this is the winner, and they collect their
opponents rubberband as the prize. "Huyop" means "blow" in Bisaya.

Like normal western marble game but with much more complicated rules. The game
rewards marble playes who are "sharp-shooters." Bottle caps can be used too.
Kids grind and shine the caps smooth to make them slide on the ground.

A top made from part of a guava tree and a needle. String or thread taken from
the top of a rice sack is wrapped around the base. The kasing is tossed do it
spins on the needle.

Sometimes used in kasing kombat where the object is to knock over the opponents
kasing. The loser goes the next round, and each time they lose, their kasing
gets ugly with damage.

Langit Lupa
This term means "sky-ground" or "Heaven and Earth." Like Monkey-Monkey Annabel,
Langit Lupa is a form of Tag. Langit Lupa has an "it", and in order to catch a
player, they (the players) must be on the ground (Lupa). To be safe from the
"it", the players must find a place that is higher than the ground (Langit)
such as a chair or bench.

Monkey-Monkey Annabel
This game is a form of freeze tag. It preceeds with a little rhyme to choose
the "it", in this case called the "Monkey." To freeze someone, the "it" says
"Monkey", and to unfreeze frozen players, other players say "Annabel". The
frozen player who moves becomes the next Monkey.

Paputok (blowing things up)
Different holidays through out the year give rise to using paputok and blow up
something, a can, a wall, an ant mound.

Patintero is the Tagalog name, used around Metro-Manila, for Tubig-Tubig. See

Pato is an alternative Tagalog name, used around Metro-Manila, for Syatong. See

Syato is the Tagalog name, used around Metro-Manila, for Syatong. See

Siatong is the short form of Chato usually played by smaller kids.

Siatong is played with two sticks, one small, about a foot, and a hitting stick
maybe 2-3 feet. A small hole is dug and the small stick it placed in it so half
is above the hole on an angle. The idea is to hit the small stick so it pops
up, then hit it in mid air. Turns are taken, and the one who hits it the
furthest is the winner.

Sigay (kidney-shaped seashells)
The seashells are tried with a string and used as a sling/hammer to crack the
opponent's own seashells. The first to crack to oblivion loses. Sometimes the
seashells are immersed in vinegar, nail polish, or other substances to make
them more durable.

The sipa was piece of flat lead with ruffles of paper. The object is to catch
the sipa with the side of the player's feet before it lands on the ground. The
"it" tosses the sipa to the defender who then has two kicks to do. The first
kick is gentle and the second kick puts the sipa away from play as much as
possible. If a player misses a kick, they lose their turn. If the "it" catches
another player's sipa and the player fails to catch it back, they lose their

The number of kicks depend on the number players agree upon, and sometimes
there's also a minimum height for the kicks. And trying to do the Black Magic
for the last kick is a hoot.

Spider fights on stick
Common house spiders are collected and housed inside matchboxes. The object is
to make the other spider run and "web off" the stick.

Even though "Spider-Fighting" is not as commercialized as cock fighting
(Sabong), it's becoming popularized as a past time game for smaller group of
people in the rural areas during Fiestas. Yes, it's one exciting game for many
Filipinos of all ages.

Usually very big spiders don't bother to fight the smaller normal house spiders
since it's not worth it to them. Played in the cities too since spiders can
still be found there. The top of the trees are best place to look for really
large spiders.

Like paputok. Firecrackers are used to shoot things like mongo seeds or other
ammo like sharp nails. Dangerous since projectiles can hit the eyes.

Played by two players with a wooden (perhaps made from mahogany) pea-pod shaped
board with seven small holes in rows on each side, and a big hole on each end
(muffin-like tray), 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 - they
are declared the loser and the person who still has sigays is the winner.

Superfriends Game
Like tag but played in a much larger area, and the "it" need only spot and
identify the victim (no tag needed). When identified, the victim becomes the
players "friend" and helps spot other victims untill everyone is found. It's
played in a large area, like a square km of the neighborhood, so spotting
victims, always on the move and hiding, can be hard and take time.

Takyan is like hackey-sack. A certain kind of leaves are gather and tied as a
bunch by their stems, then hit it with different parts of the players body. The
goal is to keep it in the air like hackey-sack.

The term is Tagalog, used in the Metro-Manila area. Cards, such as bubble gum
cards. are used. Except that these cards didn't come with bubble gum, They were
bought separately. The cards were pieces of cardboard with illustrated stories.

Groups of three cards were flicked into the air and players wager front or
back. Cards were counted in two's.

Usually the winner is the teks that's the odd one out. And as you said, cards
are counted in twos, especially sa-i, wa-la-da, lo-tat, pat-a, ma-li, nim-a,
to-pi, lo-wa, yam-si, pu-sam.

Actually, the number of teks can be flexible depending on the number of
players. Two players can play with three teks or even four for doubles. Three
players with three teks; four players with four teks, and so on. Sometimes if
there's too many players, there can be multiple winners. Thank goodness for
flexible rules.

See "Kasing."

Tumbang Preso
Tumbang Preso is Tagalog name used around Metro Manila. To start, players flip
the can and try to make it stand. The one left will start the game as the
protector of the can. The majority will try to knock down the can with their
tsinelas (slippers) or kicking. The Guard tries to tag someone before the can
topples. The one tagged becomes the guard for the next round.

Bulan Bulan
Patintero is the name for Tubig-Tubig in Tagalog region. Also in Mindanao,
particularly Davao, it's also called bulan bulan or bulanbulanay since it's
often times played during special gatherings or occasions under the bright
light of the full moon.

A rectangle, divided into three, is drawn in the ground with sticks and water
is poured over the lives to make a clearer, wider boundary. One team starts on
one end of the rectangle with the object to pass through the rectangle to reach
the other side. The other team takes position on the warter-marked line and
they are not allowed off it but they can move about on it. Their goal is to
prevent the other team reaching the otherside by tagging team members as they
pass without leaving the water marked lines that is their space. Areas between
the lines is safe space for the other team. Kids who are tagged have to step
out of the rectangle and are out of action until the next time. This game is
played anytime but almost always at night by the light of a full moon.

The divisions depended on how many players there were. The more players, the
bigger the rectangle with more divisions.

A variation is to draw a circle with intersecting lines. Someone as it who can
only run on the lines and tries to tag people inside the circle.


Run away from the dogs. The one who gets bit is the loser.

Similar to water water but you draw a circle with intersecting lines and
someone as it can only run on the lines and tries to tag people inside the

A game that is played almost like jyolens but with smooth stones or large
pebbles for "playing" marbles, with stuff like folded cigarette paper cases for
"prized" marbles inside the circle or square. Different cigarette brands have
different values; the rarer the more valuable.

Children pick different colors, declare it to each other secretly (so they
know) except to the one "it," who then blurts out one color after another until
a color is one of the colors that was picked by one of the kids. The kid whos
color was called out then has to touch an object that matches that color before
the "it" touches him/her; if not, he/she becomes the "it". No object can be
used more than once.

Though not exactly a game, playing in the rain, especially during the monsoon
season and typhoons, cocking the sandals sidewise and using it to splash the
"baha" rainwater to people. Now that I think about it, that "baha" is kinda
dirty and germ-filled, but whatthehey it's fun. ;-)

Like teks, there is a game played with little plastic toy soldiers (2 inches)
are placed 20 or more feet apart. The object of the game is to take your
opponents collection by hitting it with a rock. You take turns in doing this. I
always had one soldier that is lying on his belly or kneeling down. It was
always hard to hit than the one standing up.



Hand Elimination Game
Two or more can play this. Each person make fists and joins them so they are
touching. The following said in rounds by one player. The person saying the
round points to next fist with each beat.

When a round ends, the last fist pointed to is eliminated. Eliminated fists
formed into a grewing stack. The round is repeated with remaining fists. When
all fists eliminated, one last round is done. The fists are rotated in a
stiring motion as the round is said.
ping, pong
Lapu, Lapu
shine, shine
buse, nera
buse, nera
ping, pong
la, pongRock, Scissors and Paper Game
Two people play this but can be played by several as an elimination game.
Players face one another. Each do the indicated hand gestures with each beat
and both say words. Ends on last beat with parcipants making a rock, scissor or
paper out of their hand. Rock wins over paper, scissors win over paper, paper
wins over rock.
chi, na, chi, na Participants clap hands together
boom, boom, boom Make fists and bang their own fists
aregato, aregato Put own hands together and make
bowing motion
pik, pak, boom Wave right hand back and forth
pik, pak, boom Wave right hand back and forth
End by forming rock, scissor or
paper with hand.
If in a group, losers eliminated.Hand Clapping Game
Two people play facing one another. The pattern of hand clapping can change -
straight, cross hands, etc. The beat speeds up at end. During clapping the
following said to the beat.
si, lo, la
agui, da
kon, tra, bi, da
sa, flor, di, luna
mommie, ko, si, Mari, cel
daddie, ko, si , gabi
I love you
tok, tok, tok
balut, balut, pinoyWord Game
Change the words and how they are said. For example, replace all vowels with a
single vowel for fun.
pin pin da sarapin
de kutsilyo de armasin
haw haw de karabaw
de batuten
sayang pula, tatlong pera
sayang puti, tatlong salapi
tigbak buang binuno aswangFinger Elimination Game
Two or more people can play. Touch fingers together. One player says words on
beat, and points at each finger, rotating on each beat. On last last beat, the
finger pointed to is eliminated. The round repeated until only one finger
remains, that is the winner.
bansi, kol, dili, katol
ting, ku, ling, bas, ton
pa, ka, mi, ya, ta, go, pi, yongRock, Scissors and Paper Game
Two people play this but can be played by several as an elimination game.
Players face one another. Each do the indicated gestures with each beat and
both say the words. Ends on last beat with parcipants making a rock, scissor or
paper out of their hand. Rock wins over paper, scissors win over paper, paper
wins over rock.
o, mega Clap hands on each beat - can change pattern
cater, pilar
momma's boys
papa's girls
o, mega Speed up beat
cater, pilar
momma's boys
papa's girls
my, name, is Do this slowly
po, ka Hands to own shoulder opposite hand
- do both hands
poka, poka
honnnnn, tus! End with rock, scissor, paper hand.A Stand Still Game
Two or more can play. At the end of "Ready, 1, 2, 3," everyone should freeze.
Anyone who moves will have a single strand of hair pulled.
Ang nanay kong maganda
Puede bang a-prenda
Ang tatay kong bung-uton
Puede bang inaton
Bombero, bombero
May sunog
Saan, saan
Dita sa pantalan

One plus one
Wonder Woman
Two plus two
Lapu Lapu
Three plus three
Christmas tree
Four plus four
Five plus five
Both are five
Six plus six
Six million
Seven plus seven
Seven Up
Eight plus eight
Nine plus nine
Lucky nine
Ten plus ten
Mas sarap na Ovaltine

Walay likhokay
Bisan gamay
Ang molihok, ibtan sa bahok
Pila ka buok, usa ka buok
one, two, three! All freeze.
Anyone moving gets penaltyJackenpoy (rock, paper,
Rules are much the same as in the United States.

Patty Cake
Rules are much the same as in the United States.



The following essay was written by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. It first
appeared in 1987 in her column "Filipina American Perspective" written for
Philippine American News. It was later reprinted in her book of essays,
Philippine Woman in America, 1991, New Day Publishers.

Games We Use to Play
It's raining right now and I know California drives are panicking on the
freeways. They're riding their brakes and screeching and careening all over the
place. Californians are not used to rain. When I first arrived here and heard
that rainy weather was on its way, I bought a raincoat and umbrella to prepare
myself for Philippine-style typhoons. When the sparse chowers arrived, I sort
of looked up at the sky and wondered, is this it?

Although rainy season in the Philippines was sometimes inconvenient, I
have a lot of fond memories about it. When I was little, it was the best time
to play outside. Ignoring my mother's admonitions that we'd catch pneumonia, my
sister and I put on bathing suits, donned raincoats, and slipped on fainboots.
Grabbing umbrellas, we raced to the yard where rain fell so thick you couldn't
see beyond the tip of your nose. Twirling the umbrellas and peering up at the
dark sky, we ran around while our boots made little sucking sounds in the soft
mud. Buckets in our hands, we collected rain water and dumped this on each

At that point, the umbrellas and raincoast had been abandoned, and there
was a free-for-all in the yard. It was fun watching the birds nervously hiding
under the eaves; there were the ants tramping to safer ground with their pearly
withe eggs; and there were the squiggling pink worms that we felt with our

We didn't have fancy toys then, and when I now walk through Toys 'R' Us,
I'm impressed by the number of toys available in the U.S. There are baby dolls
with beating hearts, bears and dolls that talk, toy machine guns that look
real, and various robots that transform into cars or turcks. There are big
wheels, scooters, bicycles, dirt bikes, motor bikes - the choice of toys is
almost limitless.

By contrast, my toys were simpler: tea sets, jump rope, plastic bowling
set, roller skates with keys, and games like sungka, dominoes, and Chinese
checkers. My dolls were made of porcelain and did nothing more than blink and
give a weak "wah" when you tilted them. Instead of stuffed animals, I had
carved wooden animals.

I relied more on my imagination than on the toys themselves for
entertainment. I recall games of "market" where we used leaves for vegetables
and cut-up newspaper for money; we played "house" and had roles to play - one
was mama, the other papa, and there were the children. Many times we ended up
putting on my mother's high heels and clothes. And of course we applied
lipstick and rouge, and eyed ourselves in the mirror wondering if we looked

We were in the year a lot where we played on the swings and seesaws until
the sweat on our skin made us smell sour. We climbed star apple trees,
pretending to be encantados (enchanted beings) searching for the muta (pearl
talisman). We enjoyed tag, touch-ball, and a game we made up called

On moonlit nights, we played a game called "buwan-buwan," which
translates into "moon-moon." It was a chasing game with an "it" who ran only
along the giant circle and its diameter.

We strung ropes through coconut shells and doddered about on these
"stilts." We played with marbles and rubber bands; we caught coconut beetles
and tied strings around their middles. Cruel as this now sounds, we swung them
around so they would fly. Using thin Japanese paper, we created origami birds
whose wings moved when we pulled the tail, or gorgeous flowers that we stuck in
our hair.

There was a jasmine vine trailing up the side of the house, and we picked
and smashed the tiny white flowers to extract the juice. This we mixed with
alcohol in an attempt to make perfume.

At school, the swings, a merry-go-round, and a merry-mixup were
favorites. The metal railing near the grotto was for balancing - and sometimes
we fell off. We jumped off a graduated wall just to see how high we could jump.
In the back of the schoolyard was a bamboo grove, and even though we were
always a bit fearful of bamboo groves (we believed them to be enchanted), we
sneaked over there to play fanciful games.

There were seasonal games, like kicking "takyan" - (sipa in tagalog) -
which was made of weights and feathers. The object was to hit this repeatedly
with our feet. A game of hopscotch called for the flattest, smoothest stone.
Inside the classroom, when the teachers weren't looking, we quietly played
tic-tac-toe; and when we got older and liked boys, we concocted complicated
games involving names to determine if the boys liked us.

There were games that involved nothing more than our hands - trying to
catch someone's finger poking your palm for instance. Winnings were collected
by making pitik at the loser, which meant the winner flicked the loser so many
number of times.

Those were our games. It was another time and place of course, but as I
watch my children chasing one another under the rain with their coasts and
rubber boots on, I realize that children's activities haven't changed. No
matter how complicated their toys, children end up using their imagination,
creativity, and physical energy at play.



Tim and Jane Harvey compiled most of these games with the following people, on
the USENET News group, soc.culture.filipino, contributing new games and
refining the descriptions of others. Of course, Tim and Jane's daughter,
Stephanie, and her many play friends deserve credit for generously providing
countless hours of exhaustive research.

Luigi de Guzman
Tansong Isda
Kalaninuiana`olekaumaiiluna Mondoy
Stanlee Dometita
Jason Susas

Copyright© 1998-2001 by ATONI, All Rights Reserved


May 1, 2004, 5:28:09 AM5/1/04
ive played the following
bato lata
bulan bulan
chinese garter
chinese jacks
hide and seek
bottlecap shootouts
blowgun using seedsor wads of wet paper shootout

Mo Silidonio

May 1, 2004, 12:39:18 PM5/1/04
"Renowl" <> wrote in message

> ive played the following
> agawan
> patintero
> bikla

what is bikla?

> bato lata
> bulan bulan


> syatong
> chinese garter
> chinese jacks
> dyolen
> spiders
> hide and seek
> patintero
> torompo
> bottlecap shootouts
> blowgun using seedsor wads of wet paper shootout
> sungka

My favorite was bahay-bahayan with asa-asawahan.


May 1, 2004, 3:22:49 PM5/1/04
i dont know what bikla is either.

bulan bulan got its name from the shape made in the ground defining where one
can run and tag people. its shaped like a moon cicle with a line in between.


May 1, 2004, 4:45:48 PM5/1/04
nice list! (Renowl) wrote in message news:<>...

Just JT

May 2, 2004, 10:16:29 PM5/2/04
Sabi ni "Mo Silidonio" <>:

> My favorite was bahay-bahayan with asa-asawahan.
My all-time traditional child game fave is "show me your pekpek and I'll
show you my matigás na titě!"


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