Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pictures of Filipino Games :p

jolen/marble game
luksong baka
taguan/hide and seek

Pinoy Games :D

As 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) andtipaklong (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...