If there is one Filipino game that is fondly remembered and quickly brings to mind memories of reckless play during summer days, that would be the highly popular Tumbang Preso (literal translation: “Fallen Prisoner”), a game of tag made more rugged by hitting an empty tin can.
Tumbang preso is a classic and popular Filipino street game since it brings to the fore the natural agility of children and trains them in strategic thinking. It is also a game of bluff, speed and allows children to exercise persistance and use their wits.
The game requires around five or more players. Each player should use a large throw-away object, usually rubber slippers, sandals or a shoe which is called pamato.
The assigned “it” or prisoner is tasked to guard an empty tin can placed in an upright position behind the prisoner and some six meters from the line of players who take turns trying to hit the can with a shoe or sandal. Imagine the rain of sandals and footwear hitting you from all sides!
As soon as the can is knocked down, the prisoner must put back the tin in upright position before he can tag any of the players who will (of course) continually attempt to recover their shoe and hit the can.
If the “pamato” or shoe becomes too close to the tin and the prisoner succeeded in tagging or touching the owner of the “pamato” the same player will become prisoner. If nobody succeeded in knocking down the can and all sandals or shoes are thrown in, the prisoner can then tag anyone within close distance. The new prisoner then attempts to tag the next victim as a new cycle of raucous hit-and-run unfolds.
Mabuhay ang Tumbang Preso!