Growing up in the 90s was the best. We were the last generation to play in the streets without the distraction of computers, the internet, or mobile phones. I mean those probably existed then, yes, but they were foreign objects to us. Somehow the outdoors felt safer then, life was simpler, and more physically active. A lot of our culture is distilled in those games that we played, so we have a moral obligation to preserve them. I taught my 8-year-old nephew patintero and luksong baka the other week. Of course, he prefers to call them “Cross the Line” and “Jump over the Cow” (let’s save this for another topic) but we had a blast! A major plus is most of these games don’t even require any material! So do your kids (and the kid in you) a huge favor–teach them these ten games to play this summer.
It’s first on the list because I am sure you were a queen at this game, and frankly, so was I (hehe).
It involves two pairs, with one utilizing a stretched length of garter. One pair faces each other from a distance and has the garter stretched around them in such a way that a pair of parallel lengths of garter is between them. The members of the other pair, then begin doing a jumping “routine” over the garters while singing a song (“ten, twenty, thirty,” and so on until one hundred). Each level begins with the garters at ankle-height and progresses to higher positions, with the players jumping nimbly on the garters while doing their routines.
Langit-lupa (heaven and earth) has one “it” chasing after the other players who are allowed to run on level ground (“lupa”) and clamber over objects (“langit”). The “it” may tag players who remain on the ground, but not those who are standing on “langit”. In choosing who the first “it” is, usually this chant is sung while pointing at the players one by one:
Langit, lupa impyerno, im- im- impyerno
Sak-sak puso, tulo ang dugo
Patay, buhay, umalis ka na sa pwesto mo!
A variation of the game of tag. The novelty is how the players pick the first “it”. Similar to Langit-Lupa, the group collectively chants:
Monkey, monkey Anabelle
How many monkeys did you see?
[Chant remaining number of players here, then count off]
And a-rikkitikkitee and a-blue-black sheep
Is-pell yes, y-e-s
Is-pell no, n-o
This hand-clapping game can have as few as two players but as many in increments of two. The song goes:
Nanay, tatay, gusto ko tinapay,
Ate, kuya, gusto ko kape,
Lahat ng gusto ko ay susundin niyo.
Sinong sasali sa larong ito?
Ang magkamali ay pipingutin ko…
(Clap 1 to 10 then 10 to 1)
Also called Harangang Taga or Tubigan (try to cross my line without letting me touch or catch you).
There are two teams playing: an attack team and a defense team, with five players on each team. The attack team must try to run along the perpendicular lines from the home-base to the back-end, and return without being tagged by the defense players. Members of the defense team are called “it”, and must stand on the water lines (also “fire lines”) with both feet each time they try to tag attacking players. The player at the center line is called “patotot”. The perpendicular line in the middle allows the “it” designated on that line to intersect the lines occupied by the “it” that the parallel line intersects, thus increasing the chances of the runners to be trapped. And even though only one member of a group is tagged, the whole group will be the “it”.
I taught this to my daughter before she even turned one year old. It’s simple, but the surprise element works for the kids. The “it” has his or her palm open while the other players touch the palm with their index fingers, singing:
Sawsaw suka (dip it into the vinegar)
Mahuli taya! (the last one or one who got caught is it)
The “it” tries to catch any of the player’s finger at the end of the song. Another version of the song is:
Sawsaw suka (dip it into the vinegar)
Mapaso taya! (the one who gets burned/the one who removes their finger becomes it).
Literally means “fallen prisoner.” To play, a tin can is set upright on the ground inside a drawn circle. The “it” will protect the can from the other players, who are standing behind a line about two meters away, and will strike it down using their rubber slippers. Only when the can is down can players retrieve their thrown flip-flops without getting tagged by the “it”. If a player is tagged while the can is upright and in its circle, that person becomes the new “it”. Admittedly, I was once “balagoong” (always it) in this game, but that’s because I didn’t like touching the darn can! Still had fun, though.
A short stick about six to eight inches long is placed on top of a dug hole. The objective is to hit the short stick with a longer stick that’s about a foot long as far as you can in three turns. A turn is made up of two strikes: one upward strike to get the short stick into the air, and another strike while the stick is in mid-air to make it fly forward. The loser of the game shouts, “Siato!” while running back to the starting point.
Jump Over Thorns sees two players serve as the base of the tinik (thorn) by putting their right or left feet and hands together (soles touching, gradually building the tinik). A starting point is set by all the players, giving enough runway for the players to achieve a higher jump, so as not to hit the tinik. Players of the other team start jumping over the tinik, followed by the other team members. If a player hits either the hands or feet of the base players tinik, he or she will be punished by giving him or her consequences.
Luksong Baka (Jump Over the Cow) is a popular variation of Luksong Tinik. One player crouches while the other players jump over them. The crouching player gradually stands up as the game progresses, making it harder for the other players to jump over them. A person becomes the “it” when they touch the baka as they jump. It will repeat continuously until the players declare the winner, or until the players decide to stop the game (most of the time once they get tired). It is the Filipino version of Leap Frog.
Meaning “kick”. (I’d be remiss not to include the sport my husband was a high school varsity of.) Sipa has been the national sport of the Philippines until 2009.
The object being used to play the game is also called Sipa. It is made of a washer with colorful threads, usually plastic straw, attached to it. The street version has the sipa thrown upwards for the player to toss using his or her foot. The player must not allow the sipa to touch the ground by hitting it several times with his or her foot, and sometimes the part just above the knee. The player must count the number of times they were able to kick the sipa. The one with the most number of kicks wins the game.
The game mechanics of Sipa in school is similar to the Western game Hacky Sack. Sipa is also played professionally by Filipino athletes with a woven ball, called Sepak Takraw, with game rules borrowed from Indonesia.