Filipino Traditional Games

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In Philippine society, playing games is an important part of growing up. Some games are challenging. Some are daring. Some are physical, some are intellectually stimulating. However we play games though -- as a group or a team, games teach us sportsmanship. If you think about it, we enjoyed and played those games for many years when we were young without any referees or umpires. As kids, we made the rules and we abide by the rules. We call that "honor system" or "Sa Diyosan."

When one loses in some games, the winners make you suffer some type of consequences such as losing a turn, being punished or being made to do certain tasks (e.g., errands). Some games make you win prizes. But win or lose, we get enjoyment when we play these games. When we lose and that is almost always a certainty, that is only an opportunity to try again next time.

These games are mostly played before, during and after school as well as during PE (Physical Education class). Some of them are played during Fiestas or and when there's a Lamay (wake) for the dead.

Major studies of games pointed out that traditional games are shared communally within Philippine context. The same situation exists in neighboring countries, specially Indonesia.

It is also commonly known that games play an important part in the learning process of the child. This educational influence of games on the physical, mental, and moral vitality of a child is a factor why games in the country are still being practiced and observed by the general public.

In this connection, the family plays a very important role in the transmission of traditional games on to their children. The family, specifically the parents, reinforce the child's learning process. Psychologically, it helps the child in building up himself to use all possibilities that will make him grow normal. Lopez also observed that the normal child's natural interests lead him to different types of games at different periods of his development.

The family is a social agent that builds the development of each member of the household. As traditionally practiced in the Philippines and the neighboring countries, children learn from their parents. It is the obligation of the parents to help their children learn social customs, standards and values of his culture. This system is also shared by other members of the family, relatives, and, by and large, the members of the community, speeding up the learning process of any child. Also, with this frame of attitude, preservation of tradition is enhanced, and the children benefit from it. It is in this process that whatever they learned is right away integrated into their consciousness.

Malay (1956) pointed out that 'Filipinos like to play game,' and this is observed true. Traditional and high-tech games are simultaneously played around the country. As part of Filipino pastime, specially in the rural areas and during moonlit nights, the neighborhood gathers and shares games in the plazas, open areas, and main roads, trying different sets of games and interacting with each other as part of their recreation, socialization, and relaxation after a hard day's work.

(to access the knowledge database on Filipino traditional games, click Filipino Traditional Games link)


All these games are commonly term "Larong Pinoy" (i.e. Filipino Games). Larong Pinoy is a cultural treasure popular since the 1900s and even today is currently well-known among three living generations of Filipinos.

Revival of Filipino Tradional Games

A few decades ago, kids used to gather in the streets or in their neighbor hood playground to play their favorite Larong Pinoy games like piko, patintero, taguan, tumbang preso, siato, luksong tinik, etc. These has been their regular and popular pastimes, as well as the favorite games of their parents and grandparents until new and modern forms of entertainment has taken over the interests of young kids.

Dickie Aguado, Executive Director of Magna Kultura Foundation, reported that the Traditional Filipino Games are very much alive in our country. It is not true that the Filipino Street Games are no longer played, as some would say that it has vanished in Philippine society. In many urban and rural areas, a great majority of Filipino children still find time to play outdoor street games with their neighborhood friends, as most of them are still unable to own expensive high-tech gadgets. Games like Patintero, Tumbang Preso, Piko, Sipa, Turumpo, and many others, are very much alive and played daily in the neighborhood.

The primary reason why some children stop playing the Pinoy 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, children would just move on leaving the games of their childhood in the the streets.

Moreover, the advent of information technology has ushered high-tech gadgets and computer games that has fascinated children and even adults. Computers and game gadgets are mostly played indoor, with less outdoor physical activity and bonding for children among neighborhood friends. Unlike children who grew up playing in the streets, some kids would grow up with modern technology, and would have no one to call as their “kababata” (i.e., childhood friend), as their friends are contacted within the virtual scenario. Instead of having "kababata", they would have more “ka-Chat” at “Facebook” or “Yahoo Messenger”. Children need to have physical outdoor activity with real friends.

To bring back this rich Filipino tradition, Magna Kultura Foundation, an education-for-development NGO together with Department of Education (DepEd) launched the Larong Pinoy Program in Public Elementary Schools in the Philippines. The objective of the program is to revive the interest of young students in the Filipino Traditional Games. The challenge is to create awareness on what Larong Pinoy is all about, and literally, it mean bringing the games back in playgrounds and communities.

On September 29, 2008, The Department of Education issued a Circular Memorandum that authorized Magna Kultura Foundation to implement the Larong Pinoy Sports Clinic in Public Elementary Schools in the Philippines. The Larong Pinoy Sports Clinic are conducted with game instructors, standard curriculum, and drill exercises. The Larong Pinoy program is in consonance with the Traditional Games Project (Laro Ng Lahi) under the School Sports Competition Program of the DepEd's School sports activities.

The advocacy program is implemented by Magna Kultura Foundation in coordination with the DepEd’s Task Force on School Sports (TFSS) and the National Capital Region (NCR) PESS Division. The sports clinics include orientation and instructions on games such as tumbang preso, patintero, piko, luksong tinik, siyato, other games.

Aside from reviving the Filipino games in our country, the Larong Pinoy advocacy program aims to promote nationalism, strengthen family ties, involve the community in worthwhile activities, and keep the children in school through sports.

The Larong Pinoy Program developed by Magna Kultura is a unique sports clinic that features drill methods, skill exercises and mechanics for playing the games. Together with DepEd, official tournament rules have been developed by Magna Kultura, with manuals and tournament forms that will be released to schools. Magna Kultura Foundation and DepEd envisions to revive the games in the country and promote it as a national sports with reputable competitions conducted in all regions. Both institutions believe that the Larong Pinoy games are as competitive with well-known international games.

The advocacy to promote "Laro ng Lahi" is a timely crusade amidst the age of globalization and the rise of modern computer games and high-tech game gadgets.

Dickie Aguado stresses that, the Traditional Filipino Games is a cultural treasure handed down by generations of Filipinos. it is a fun and light way to instill values of patriotism, family and community togetherness among the youth. Aguado strongly encourages every parent, teacher and citizens, to teach the new generation the traditional Filipino games as a tool to instill patriotism, because tomorrow, these children will join society's league, and they will play in the team called Filipino race.


  • Dickie Aguado, Executive Director of Magna Kultura Foundation
  • Borja, Bernadette F. "A Combination of Instructional Materials in Teaching Physical Education" based on Secondary Education Development Program, Philippine Normal University
  • Flores, Josephine A. Cordillera Game, Cordillera Administrative Region
  • Fontanilla, Victorino D. "The Cultural Heritage of Central Mindanao: Folk Culture of Region XII", Cotabato City, DECS, 1992
  • Philacor Young People's Library, "Games Filipino Children Play", Manila Philippines, 1978

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