Tag Archives: Philippine games

#174 Luksong Tinik

Luksong Tinik (literally ‘jump over thorns’) is a classic Filipino outdoor game which consists of two teams with an equal number of players (from WikiPilipinas). Each team chooses a leader, usually one who can jump the highest who is called the ‘mother.’

Players decide which team gets to play first. Two players serve as the base of the tinik (thorn) by putting their right/left feet together (soles touching gradually building an obstacle or ‘tinik’). A starting point is set by all the players giving enough space for the jumping players. Players of the other team start jumping over the tinik followed by the other team members.

If they all successfully jump without touching any of the feet of the base players, the next degree of difficulty follows. The base players then extend their right/left hands one on top of the other (fingers spread apart to indicate thorns). The other team continues the same jumping routine until the base players have used all their feet and hands.

The routine continues until the jumping team fails to jump over successfully and accidentally touches the fingers of the base players. Should this happen, the jumping team’s leader or mother gets to jump to redeem the other player who missed the earlier jump. If the leader misses that jump, the teams exchange places and the game starts anew.

Luksong tinik is a sure way to test children’s agility in these days when kids are addicted to videogames.

Mabuhay ang larong Pinoy!

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#168 Palo Sebo

WikiPilipinas photo

Palo sebo (greased bamboo pole) is a game usually held during Philippine fiestas to amuse both the young and old in an exciting race to grab the day’s prize.

A long bamboo pole is greased with pig fat from bottom up. Participants attempt to clamber up the bamboo pole on bare hands and feet to grab a flag or a prize tied to the top-end of the pole. Outside assistance is forbidden and those caught cheating are disqualified. 

Usually young children and teenage boys make the attempt to clamber up the greasy pole, but as logic dictates the first batch of participants will definitely have a tougher time since latter participants can benefit from a ‘less greasy’ pole. But often the pole is also grease with a newer coating for a fairer competition. If the grease proves just too much, a team of two to three boys usually make the climb atop each other.

Like other traditional or native games, palo sebo has became less popular and has been relegated to so-called folkloric games and activities. Too bad since this is a game that pays off to those young children who possess persistence and manual dexterity.

Mabuhay ang palo sebo!

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#30 Sipa

Sipa (Filipino for “kick” or “to kick“) is a traditional native kick-ball game which predates Spanish rule. Although this claim is controversial with other Southeast Asian countries making similar claims,  the game is related to sepak takraw.

The game is both played by two teams, indoors or outdoors, on a court that is about the size of a tennis court. The teams consist of one to four players in each side. The game’s goal is to kick a soft ball, made out of woven rattan, back and forth over a net in the middle of the court. The sport requires speed, agility and ball control, and romanticized tales of yore tell of kingdoms and love lost or gained in a game of sipa.

The rattan sipa ball is 10 centimeters in diameter and made of woven rattan strips with symmetrical holes. The most defining feature of the game of Sipa is that the ball should only be touched with the legs or from below the knee to the tip of the toes. Modern sipa ball versions are made of feather light balls similar to the shuttle-cock  which is used in a game of badminton (see photo).

Whether the early Filipinos invented this popular game remains contentious. But whatever its origins are it is noteworthy to say that Filipinos are credited for popularising the game or at least recording its practice way long before other countries made similar claims.

Mabuhay ang sipa!


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