Tag Archives: Filipino games

#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!


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#135 Pabitin

Hands up for the pabitin

Pabitin (Filipino for “to dangle”) is a fiesta game for children where sweets, candies and cheap toys are attached to colorful strings on a trellis made of bamboo.

The trellis is lowered and then pulled up as children attempt to snatch goodies hanging from the bamboo contraption.

The game is meant to tease and coax children to snatch up for the goods, a contest of persistence and physical height or the ability to jump and snatch at the right time. Could the pabitin contest provides a good reason why Filipinos are masters in seizing opportunities? But pray that this trait does not thrive among Pinoy politicians!

The pabitin is often played during the festive month of May, which is known among Catholic Filipinos as Flores de Mayo.

Mabuhay ang pabitin!

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#21 Sungka

Sungka, although it may not be distinctly and purely Filipino, is a playful game of wits and strategy. Played by two players in a wooden, boat-like object with cowrie shells or marbles, the main goal is to out-play your opponent by literally taking all of his marbles (pardon the pun!)– or pearly shells, as the case maybe.

It may not be apparent to non-insiders of the sungka game, but there is a winning technique or strategy to this game. But more than the technique is to employ psychology or ruses that may distract or misled the other player. Feigning casualness or indecisiveness add firepower to the basic technique.

Again, this game betrays the Filipino’s interest in games where tactics and ruses that cleverly hide one’s real interest is more crucial than mere strategy.

Play it once and you’ll be playing it more than you originally expected.

Mabuhay ang Sungka!

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