#157 Tumbang Preso

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!


Filed under Arts and Culture

12 responses to “#157 Tumbang Preso

  1. Nuong bata ako, naburo ako sa larong ito, nawala pa ang tsinelas ko.

    • Hello pinoytransplant. Ako maghapon sa kalye. Amoy araw, at laging taya. 🙂 leojagev

      • Aljory Jhon Boje

        thanks for posting this,cuz we need it specially in school and also to remember the past!!! thank you very much i hope you can add some of the cultural or traditional game of Filipino???

  2. steve

    ‘pag ako ang taya, basta hinahabol ko na lang sila….dala-dala ko yung lata para wala na silang tutumbahin…he he he

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  4. leojagev

    Hello Steve and Pinoy Transplant, Would it be fantastic if we can teach the world how to play tumbang preso? A little of the Pinoy mind and spirit in the heart of others…mabuhay ang Pinoy!

  5. matangmanok


    This brought back memories. Umuulan ngayon dito sa Cape Town where they are scheduled to have the World Cup later today – so I will have to wait for a sunny day to show my kids how to play Tumbang Preso. Imagine if there was a world cup for Tumbang Preso! hahahahahaha!

  6. steve

    Hey, Leo, good to hear from you again!!!! I hope you don’t mind me adding some rules of the game.
    Here’s how we play it (where I grew up).

    1. After the can is hit and (of course) gets thrown outside the circle, but still stands up at the place where it rolled, the “it” doesn’t have to put it back inside the circle. The other players should hit the can again until it’s down on its side.

    2. If a player threw his slipper or “pamato” softly that it is just touching the circle without knocking down the can, the player then becomes the new “it”. However, even if he threw it softly but the can gets knocked down on its side, then the current “it” is still the prisoner, leaving the slipper where it landed in the circle.

    3. If nobody was able to knock the can down on its side, the “it” will begin chasing the players and tag even just one player to become the new “it”. Although at the same time, he must protect the can inside the circle from being kicked or hit again. But even if it’s kicked or hit again, he can still chase and tag the players as long as the can keeps standing up wherever it rolled to. If he tagged a player at the same time when the can was hit or kicked, and the can stood up where it rolled, the last tagged player becomes the new prisoner or “it”.

    4. The idea is to throw the slipper as strong as you can, that even if you didn’t knock the can down, your slipper lands far from the “it”. Then you can go around the “it” without getting tagged to retrieve your slipper.

    5. Lastly, one player – one slipper. That is why before the start of the game, the other pair of slippers are collected and put in one place….the players can just match them up after the game.

    I’ll try to teach the kids in the neighborhood. Ang problema, puro US-born na ‘tong mga bata, e. And they prefer skateboards. Pero may mga batang lumalapit sa akin kung bukas ang garahe ko and they see me playing my guitar. Maybe that’s the time I can introduce the game to them….I’ll try.
    Mabuhay ang Pinoy…Mabuhay ka Leo!!!!!

    • Hello Steve, Many thanks for the comprehensive game description of tumbang preso. Very helpful. I almost forget the details of the game. Maybe because I spent a lot of time being “it.” haha…Sige, teach the kids in your neighborhood tumbang preso even though they’re all Kano-nized. 🙂 Matang-manok, oo, kapag napit-pit ang gilid ng lata, mas mahirap patumbahin. Guys, thanks a lot for your comments. and do send in the suggestions for the list if you have any, we’re only mid-way through the year. Mabuhay ang Pinoy!

  7. matangmanok

    Hindi ba kailangang pinitpit ang gilid ng lata para mas mahirap patumbahin?

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