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“Philippine Traditional Games”

Traditional Filipino Games or Indigenous games in the Philippines (Tagalog: Laro ng Lahi) are games
commonly played by children, usually using native materials or instruments. In the Philippines due to
limited resources of toys for Filipino children, they usually invent games without the need of anything but
the players themselves. Their games' complexity arises from their flexibility to think and act.

Laro ng Lahi was coined and popularized by the Samahang Masining (Artist club commonly known
"Makasining") with the help of National Commission for Culture and the Arts and being used by the other
Philippine Local Government Unit, other organizations and other institution. Imparting of these Filipino
games to the youth is one of the main objectives of the organization. The Makasining also created time
based scoring for five selected games (Patintero, Syatong, Dama, Lusalos and Holen).

Dickie Aguado, Executive Director of Magna Kultura Foundation (a Philippine NGO for Arts and Culture),
confirms that the Traditional Filipino Games are "very much alive in the Philippines". Despite what some
say about Filipino Street Games vanishing in Philippine society due to computers and technology, that is
not actually true. In many urban and rural areas, a great majority of Filipino children still play outdoor
street games, as most of them are still unable to own technology. Games such as Patintero, Tumbang
Preso, Piko, Sipa, Turumpo, and many others, are still played daily in neighborhoods. One of the main
reasons why some children stop playing Filipino games is because Western sports activities
(i.e., basketball or volleyball) are more prominently organized in local Barangays and in schools. With lack
of organized sports activities for Filipino street games, Filipino children can only adapt to modern society
by quitting their childhood games.

TRADITIONAL GAMES - There are over thirty - eight known Filipino games, and many of these are as
challenging and competitive as Western - style games. A non-exhaustive list of Traditional Filipino Games
includes the following:

1. Agawan Base (lit. catch and own a corner): the it or tagger stands in the middle of the ground.
The players in the corners will try to exchange places by running from one base to another.
The it should try to secure a corner or base by rushing to any of those when it is vacant. This is
called "agawang sulok " in some variants, and "bilaran" in others.

2. Sekyu Base is another version of Agawan Base but no score limits. If a team scores five points, the
game still continues. The players can hide in other things near the enemy base and ambush them
3. Araw - lilim (lit. sun and shade): The it or tagger tries to tag or touch any of the players who is in
direct contact with the light.

4. Bahay – Bahayan Players also make imaginary house using materials like curtains, spare woods,
ropes, or other things that can help them build it. They will assign each individual what they
wanted to be, then act as if it is real. This is really a fun game to play. It is an old game, but
youngsters still play it. It should be played in public areas like malls, parks, etc. Be careful of other
things, some of them tried to light a fire and their house is burned.

5. Bati-Cobra is a hitting and catching game. This game is played outdoors only by two or more
players. To play this game, two pieces of bamboo sticks (one long, one short) are required. A
player acts as a batter and stands opposite the others players at a distance. The batter holds the
long bamboo stick with one hand and tosses the short one with the other hand. The batter then
strikes the shorter stick with the longer stick. The other players will attempt to catch the flying
shorter stick. Whoever catches the stick gets the turn to be the next batter. If nobody catches the
stick, any player can pick it up. The batter then puts down the longer stick on the ground. The
holder of the shorter stick will throw it with the attempt to hit the longer stick on the ground. If
the longer stick is hit, the hitter becomes the next batter. If the player with the shorter stick
misses to hit the longer one, the same batter will continue.

6. Bulong - Pari (lit. whisper it to the priest) is composed of two teams and an it. The leader of team
goes to the priest and whispers one of the names of the players of team B. Then he returns to his
place and the priest calls out, "Lapit!" ("Approach!"). One of the players of team B should
approach the priest, and if it happens to be the one whom the leader of team A mentioned, the
priest will say, "Boom" or "Bung!" The player then falls out of line and stays somewhere near the
priest as a prisoner.

7. Calahoyo (lit. hole - in) is an outdoor game by two to ten players. Accurate targeting is the skill
developed in this game because the objective of each player is to hit the “anak” (small stones or
objects) with the use of the “pamato” (big, flat stone), trying to send it to the hole. A small hole is
dug in the ground, and a throwing line is drawn opposite the hole (approx. 5 to 6 meters (16 to
20 ft) away from the hole). A longer line is drawn between the hole and the throwing line. Each
player has a pamato and an anak. All the anak are placed on the throwing line, and players try to
throw their pamato into the hole from the throwing line. The Player whose pamato is in the hole
or nearest the hole will have the chance for the first throw. Using the pamato, the first thrower
tries to hit the anak, attempting to send it to the hole. Players take turns in hitting their anak until
one of them gets into the hole, with the players taking turns a complete round and so on. The
game goes on until only one anak is left outside the hole. All players who get their anak inside the
hole are declared winners, while the one with the anak left outside the hole is the alila (loser) or
muchacho. Alila or Muchacho will be "punished" by all the winner/s as follows: Winners stand at
the throwing line with their anak beyond line A-B (longer line between hole and throwing line).
The winners hit their anak with their pamato. The muchacho picks up the pamato and returns it
to the owner. The winners repeat throwing as the muchacho keeps on picking up and returning
the pamato as punishment. Winners who fail to hit their respective anak will stop throwing. The
objective is to tire the loser as punishment. When all are through, the game starts again.

8. Chinese Garter
Two people hold both ends of a stretched garter horizontally while the others attempt to cross
over it. The goal is to cross without having tripped on the garter. With each round, the garter's
height is made higher than the previous round (the game starts with the garter at ankle-level,
followed by knee-level, until the garter is positioned above the head). The higher rounds demand
dexterity, and the players generally leap with their feet first in the air, so their feet cross over the
garter, and they end up landing on the other side. Also, with the higher levels, doing cartwheels
to "cross" the garter is allowed.

9. Declan Ruki (lit. I declare, do it!): Participants are told to do something by the winner of the
previous games. It is similar to the Western game Simon Says.

10. Hand clapping games generally involving four people. They are split into two pairs with each pair
facing each other. Members from both pairs face the center (the two pairs being perpendicular
to each other). Each pair then does a hand clapping "routine" while singing the "Bahay Kubo" or
"Leron-leron Sinta". In the middle of the song, each pair would exchange "routines" with the
other. A variation on the game is an incorporated action according to the lyrics. An example is "Si
Nena", a song about a girl named Nena, starting when she was born. The song progresses with
the life story of Nena, (i.e. when she grew up, became a lady, get married, got children, get old,
died, and finally became a ghost). After she died, one player would act like a ghost and catches
the other players.

11. Nanay tatay Another version of the same variation goes like this:
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…

12. Holen This game is where players should hold the ball called holen in their hand then throw it to
hit the players ball out of the playing area. Holen is called marble in USA. It is played a more
precise way by tucking the marble with the player's third finger, the thumb under the marble, the
fourth finger used as to stable the marble. They aim at grouped marbles inside a circle and flick
the marble from their fingers, and anything they hit out of the circle is theirs. Whoever obtained
the most marbles wins the game. Players (manlalaro) can also win the game by eliminating their
opponents by aiming and hitting his marble. Players need to be very accurate to win.

Another version of this game requires three holes lined up in the ground with some distance. Each player
tries to complete a circuit of travelling from the first hole to the second then third and back to the second
again and finally back to the first hole. Players decide on where the starting line is and the distance
between holes. The first to complete the circuit wins the game. They are also able to knock other
player's holen (marble) away using theirs. Generally the distance between holes allows for several times
of shooting to arrive at the next hole. The players next shoots from where the holen landed. The players
take turns of who is shooting. A variant of this game needs players to requires their holen to pass back the
starting line.


Iring-Iring (lit. go round and round until the hanky drops): After the it is determined, they goes around the
circle and drops the handkerchief behind a person. When the person notices the handkerchief is behind
their back, he or she has to pick up the handkerchief and go after the it around the circle. The it has to
reach the vacant spot left by the player before the it is tagged; otherwise, the it has to take the
handkerchief and the process is repeated.
Jack 'n' Poy[edit]

This is the local version of Rock-paper-scissors (bato, papel, at gunting). Though the spelling seems
American in influence, the game is really Japanese in origin (janken) with the lyrics in the Japanese version
sound "hong butt".

The lyrics:

Jack 'n' Poy, hale-hale-hoy! (Jack and Poy, hale-hale-hoy!)

Sinong matalo s'yang unggoy! (Whoever loses is the monkey!)

Hwego de Anilyo[edit]

Hwego de Anilyo (lit. game of rings) is a game notably Spanish in influence. It involves riding a horse while
holding a dagger and "catching" rings hanging from a tree or some other structure using the dagger.
However, people usually play this game nowadays by riding a bicycle while holding a dagger. The
competitors need to continue their speed in riding their bicycle.

Juego de Prenda[edit]

Juego de prenda (lit. game of looking for the missing bird): There is no limit to the number of players that
can play. Players sit in a circle with the leader in the middle. Each player adopts a name of a tree or flower
that is given by the leader. The leader recounts the story of a lost bird that was owned by a king. He or
she says, The bird of the king was lost yesterday. Did you find it, Ylang-Ylang? The player who adopted the
name of the Ylang-Ylang tree at once answers that he or she has not found it, so the leader continues to
ask the other trees whether the bird has hidden in them. If a player cannot answer after the third count,
he or she is made to deposit a thing he or she owns to the leader until the leader has been able to gather
a lot of things from the members. The Boy is choosing a tree. The Girl is choosing a flower. The one
participants will be a king.

Kapitang bakod[edit]

Kapitang bakod (lit. touch the post, or you're it! or hold on to the fence): When the it or tagger is chosen,
the other players run from place to place and save themselves from being tagged by holding on to a
fence, a post, or any object made of wood or bamboo.


Langit-lupa (lit. heaven and earth) one it chases after 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 in the "langit" (heaven). The tagged player then becomes it and the game

In choosing who the first it is usually a chant is sung, while pointing at the players one by one:

Langit, lupa impyerno, im - im - impyerno (Heaven, earth, hell, he-he-hell)

Sak-sak puso tulo ang dugo (Stabbed heart, dripping in blood)
Patay, buhay, Umalis ka na sa pwesto mong mabaho ! (Dead, alive, get out of your stinky spot ! )

Another version of the song goes:

Langit, lupa, impyerno, im - im - impyerno (Heaven, earth, hell, he-he-hell)

Max Alvarado, barado ang ilong (Max Alvarado has a stuffy nose!)
Tony Ferrer, mahilig sa baril (Tony Ferrer is fond of guns!)
Vivian Velez, mahilig sa alis! (Vivian Velez is fond of... Get out!)

When the song stops and a player is pointed at they are "out" and the last person left is the taya or "it".

Due to cheating, some players count to 3, 4, 5 if the player that is standing in the "langit" and can only be
stopped if there is another player standing on it.


A game of Indian influence. It is basically a game of tag, except here, the divide into two teams,
the it team members get to hold the ball, passing it between themselves, with the ball touching the head
of the other (not it) team.

Lawin at Sisiw[edit]

(lit. Hawk and Chicken):

This game is played by ten or more players. It can be played indoors or outdoors.

One player is chosen as the "hawk" and another as the "hen". The other players are the "chickens". The
chickens stand one behind the other, each holding the waist of the one in front. The hen stands in front
of the file of chickens.

The hawk will 'buy' a chicken from the hen. The hawk will then take the chicken, asks them to hunt for
food and goes to sleep. While the hawk is asleep, the chicken will return to the hen. The Hawk wakes up
and tries to get back the chicken he bought while the hen and other chickens prevent the hawk from
catching the chicken. If the hawk succeeds, the chicken is taken and punished. If the hawk fails to catch
the chicken, the hawk will try to buy the chicken.

This game is created by Cyberkada in 1995. Until now, it was one of the most traditional game in the

Luksong tinik[edit]

Luksong tinik (lit. jump over the thorns of a plant): 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 hit either hands or feet of the base players "tinik", he or she will be punished by giving him or
her consequences.


Luksong-Baka (lit. 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 player or until the players
decide to stop the game most of the time once they get tired. It is the Filipino version of Leapfrog.


Palosebo (lit. greased bamboo pole climbing): This game involves a greased bamboo pole that players
attempt to climb. These games are usually played during town fiestas, particularly in the provinces. The
objective of the participants is to be the first person to reach the prize—a small bag—located at the top
of the bamboo pole. The small bag usually contains money or toys.

Guess the Killer (Patay Patayan)[edit]

Patay patayan, also referred to as Killer Eye, involves at least 4 players. Players cut pieces of paper
according to how many players are playing. There should be one judge, at least one killer, at least one
police, and others are the regular players. The objective of the game is for the police to find and catch the
killers by saying "I caught you" and say the name of the killer before the killer winks at the judge. The
killer is able kill people by winking at the person he wants to kill. If he kills a normal person, the person
says "I'm dead!" If he kills the judge without being caught, The judge says "I'm dead, but I'm the judge"
and the game repeats


This game involves 2 players. One covers his eyes with a hand while the other flicks a finger (pitik) over
the hand covering the eyes. The person with the covered eyes gives a number with his hand the same
time the other does. If their numbers are the same, then they exchange roles in the game. Another
version of this is that the blind (bulag) will try to guess the finger that the other person used to flick them.


Patintero, also called Harangang Taga or Tubigan (lit. 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 for 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, even only
one member of a group is tagged the whole group will be the it.

Patintero is one of the most popular Filipino street games.

In 1997, Samahang Makasining (Artist Club), Inc. created time based scoring like basketball. Each team
player is composed of 6 people (4 players and 2 waiting as replacements). The attacking team will be
giving 20 minutes to cross the perpendicular lines from the home-base to the back-end and return. Each
team can play for three games. There are four horizontal water lines (also "fire lines"), two vertical lines
(left and right outside lines) and one perpendicular line in the middle of vertical lines. Each square box has
a measurement of 6 meters by 6 meters.

The team can win based on the highest score of one player who reached the farthest distance. Scoring is
two points per line for each of the four lines going away from home-base and three points per line for
each of the four lines coming back toward home-base, plus five additional points for reaching home-base.
An example of someone who made it all the way across and back: (2 points × 4 lines) + (3 points × 4 lines)
+ 5 points home-base = 25 total points.

Piko is the Philippine variation of the game hopscotch. The players stand behind the edge of a box, and
each should throw their cue ball. The first to play is determined depending on the players' agreement
(e.g. nearest to the moon, wings or chest). Whoever succeeds in throwing the cue ball nearest to the
place that they have agreed upon will play first. The next nearest is second, and so on. The person is out
for the round if they stand with both feet


See Tumbang Preso and Patay Patayan


Sambunot is a Philippine game which may be played outdoors by ten or more players, but not to exceed
twenty. The goal in the game is to get the coconut husk out of the circle.

A circle is drawn on the floor, big enough to accommodate the number of players. A coconut husk is
placed at the center of the circle. The players position themselves inside the circle. At the signal of "go",
players will rush to the center to get the coconut husk. Players may steal the coconut husk from another
player in an attempt to be the one to take the husk out of the circle. A player who is successful in getting
out of the circle with the coconut husk wins, and the game starts again.[10]


(lit. dip it into vinegar): The it has his/her palm open while the other players touch the palm with their
index fingers, singing "sawsaw suka/mahuli taya!" (dip it into the vinegar/the last one (or one who got
caught) is it). The it tries to catch any player's finger at the end of the song. Another version of the song is
"Sawsaw suka/Mapaso taya!" (dip into the vinegar/the one who gets burned (the one who removes their
finger) becomes it).


Sipa (lit. game of Kick): 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. Also, sipa can be played using
a rattan ball or a lead washer covered in cloth or plastic.[11] The sipa is then thrown upwards for the
player toss using their foot. The player must not allow the sipa to touch the ground by hitting it several
times with their foot, and sometimes the part just above the knee. The player must count the number of
times they was able to kick the sipa. The one with most number of kicks wins the game. Sipa has also
been the national sport of the Philippines until 2009.[11]

The game mechanics of Sipa 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.


Sikaran is a distinct Filipino Traditional Martial Art that involves hand and foot fighting. As Sikaran is a
general term for kicking which is also used as the name of the kicking aspects of other Filipino Traditional
martial arts.

Hari Osias Banaag, originator of the Global Sikaran Federation and diplomat for the Traditional game, He
recently attended and was warmly received at the UNESCO Collective Consultation Meeting on the
Preservation and the Promotion of Traditional Sports and Game (TSG).Hari Osias Banaag is an appointed
member of Adhoc Advisory Committee Traditional Sports and Games,UNESCO (TSG)


Pityaw is a game where player uses two sticks of rattan, 12 and 6 inches (300 and 150 mm) of length.


Taguan is similar to hide and seek. What is unique in Tagu-Taguan is that this game is usually played at
sunset or at night as a challenge for the it to locate those who are hiding under the caves
in Laguna and Cavite which is a popular site for pro taguan players. The it needs to sing the following
before they start seeking:

Tagu-taguan, maliwanag ang buwan (Hide and seek, the moon is bright)
Masarap maglaro sa dilim-diliman (It is fun to play in the semi-dark night)
'Pag kabilang kong sampu (When I finish counting up to ten)
Nakatago na kayo (All of you should already been hidden)
Isa, dalawa, ... sampu! (One, two, ... ten!)

Another version of the chant goes:

Tagu-taguan, maliwanag ang buwan (Hide and seek, the moon is bright)
Wala sa likod, wala sa harap (Nobody in front, nobody behind)
'Pag kabilang kong sampu (When I finish counting up to ten)
Nakatago na kayo (All of you should already been hidden)
Isa, dalawa, ... sampu! (One, two, ... ten!)

Another version of the chant goes:

Tagu-taguan, maliwanag ang buwan (Hide and seek, the moon is bright)
Tayo's maglaro ng tagu-taguan (let's play hide and seek)
isa, dalawa, ...umalis kana sa puwestohan mo (one, two, ... leave that place)


Tagutaguan (lit. twilight game, look out, cover yourself! or take-cover game!): Participants usually step on
couches, hide under tables, or wrap themselves in curtains.


Teks or teks game cards (lit. texted game cards): Filipino children collect these playing cards which
contain comic strips and text placed within speech balloons. The game is played by tossing the cards in
the air until they hit the ground. The cards are flipped upwards through the air using the thumb and the
forefinger which creates a snapping sound as the nail of the thumb hits the surface of the card. The
winner or gainer collects the other players' card depending on how the cards are laid out upon hitting or
landing on the ground.[12]

As a children's game, the bets are just for teks, or playing cards as well. Adults also play for money.


A game involving 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.


A game variant of the tinikling dance, with the same goal—for the players to dance nimbly over the
clapping bamboo "maw" without having their ankles caught.

Once the players ankle got caught, they will replace the players who hold the bamboo. The game will just
continue until players decided to stop.
Tsato / Syato[edit]

Tsato (lit. stick game, better be good at it): Two players, one flat stick (usually 3 feet (0.91 m)) and one
short flat piece of wood (4 inches (100 mm) usually a piece cut from the flat stick).

Player A becomes the hitter and Player B as the catcher. It is played outside on the ground where one
digs a small square hole (which is slanted), where they put the small wood so that it sticks out.

Player A hits the wood with the stick so that it catches air enough to be hit by the stick.

The further the wood gets hit the more points one gets (usually counted by the number of stick length).

If Player A risks, he may try to add a multiplier to his score. By hitting the wood upwards twice in one turn
before striking it forward, the points will then be counted by the number of wood length instead.

Player B on the other hand has to anticipate and catch the small piece of wood to nullify the points and
become his turn or looks forward to Player A to miss hitting the wood.

Sometimes the losing player is punished. The penalty is hopping on one foot from a designated spot
marked by the winning player. This is done again by hitting the wood with the stick in midair as far away
as possible. The spot where it lands is where the losing player starts until he reaches the hole.

Tumbang Preso[edit]
Main article: Tumbang preso

Tumbang preso or Presohan in the Luzon, and Tumba-Patis or Tumba-Lata in most Visayan regions (in
English Hit The Can). This also one of the popular Filipino street games played by children using their
slippers to hit a tin can at the center.

Like other Filipino traditional games, members take the following roles: one as the taya (it), someone who
takes the role of a-player-at-stake and holds the responsibility of the Lata (tin can), and; the two others as
the players striking. The game is performed by having the players use a pamato (which uses one's own
slipper) to strike the tin that is held beside the taya.

As to how the game cycles, the taya, is obliged to catch another player to take over their position of
running after the tin that keeps from throwing away by the strikes of the players. Nevertheless,
the taya is only privileged to do so only if the player is holding on their way a pamato and when the tin is
on its upright position. Hence, running after another player is keeping an eye to the tin can's position. As
for the players, they have their whole time striking the tin can and running away from the taya, keeping
themselves safe with their pamato since making the tin fell down helps another player from recovering.
Instances like having everyone had their turns over is biggest climax of the game that leads them to panic,
since the taya has all their rights to capture whether the players have a hold of their pamato or not.

However, mechanics also give each side privileges. Within the roadway or streets as the area being
performed, the taya take its place on one side held its tin centered on the ground while on the other end
is bound by a line that limits the player when throwing. Breaking rules to the players give way for the taya
to have their overturn, like: stepping on or outside the boundary line when throwing; kicking the tin;
striking the tin without having oneself reaching the line; or even touching it.

In other versions, especially those in Visayan regions and Southern Luzon, is of complexity for the part of
the taya. The latter has to make the tin can stand upright together with its own pamato on the top of it
which also adds up to the mechanics of the game. The tendency is that even when the taya has already
made everything stood up but when the slipper will fall from the tin, they is not allowed catching anybody
unless he hurriedly put it back to its position.

Ubusan Lahi[edit]

Ubusan lahi (lit. clannicide): One tries to conquer the members of a group (as in claiming the members of
another's clan). The tagged player from the main group automatically becomes an ally of the tagger. The
more players, the better. The game will start with only one it and then try to find and tag other players.
Once one player is tagged, they will then help the it to tag the other players until no other participant is
left. Some people also know this as Bansai o Lipunan. The a lot players are 5-10

Board games[edit]

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it. (December 2016)


General equivalent of the game “checkers”. It has a certain set of rules. We make do of using chess pieces
or anything you can put on a checkered board.