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LARONG PINOY: KEEPING OUR HERITAGE ALIVE

Larong Pinoy plays a vital part in honing our heritage and culture. They are rooted in collective memories and experiences we carry every day.

In an era dominated by mobile phones, gadgets, and computers, our traditional games are reminders of who we are as a nation. They played a vital role in honing our culture and heritage. If there is one thing worth mentioning about Filipinos, it’s how our creativity flourishes even with little or no resources available. 

When I was younger, I’d always look forward to four in the afternoon. The sun wasn’t too hot, and coming from siesta, I got to watch kids from the neighborhood play with each other. Yes, I was one of those sickly kids who were never allowed to play outside. This may be a sappy soppy story of someone who grew up watching other kids from his window. A story of childhood – or the lack thereof.

Tumbang Preso

Tumbang preso larong pinoy
Photo by Rico Doronio from MutualArt.com

Speaking from second hand experiences, whether from sheer joy or the carefree vibe of those kids from outside, the larong pinoy emulates the very sense of resourcefulness. With an empty tin can and a slipper, you can polish your sharpshooting skills with Tumbang Preso or Tumba Lata. 

As a kid with no practice, I could still remember throwing my slipper and hitting a figurine. Go ahead, indulge yourself in imagining what came after. Yep! The same slipper that knocked my lola’s Happy Buddha figurine was the very same slipper that landed on my butt moments later – three times. I couldn’t say it was worth it, but I guess I’ve charged it under my “growing pains” list. 

Piko

Piko
Photo by Criche Dacles from Pinterest.com

“Step? No! Step? Yes!” this game reminded me of Nana Alice. She taught me how to play Piko using that strangely flat stone from my bathroom. Look, I didn’t know I was supposed to use it for scrubbing my skin, okay? I thought it was just there as a decoration. I still think pumice is dangerous for kids, though! 

Where were we? Right, Piko! Using charcoal or chalk, they’d usually draw lines where the stone shouldn’t cross when you hop or kick it. My girl neighbors usually played this. Sheila was so good at it – she inspired me to, one day, give her one of our pumices while desperately trying to convince her it will bring her luck. 

This game looked so tiring because it requires hopping or jumping while staying within the margins. But just like Piko, boundaries are there for a reason. There are lines we shouldn’t dare cross unless we’re ready for the consequences. 

B: But just like Piko, boundaries are there for a reason. There are lines we shouldn’t dare cross unless we’re ready for the consequences. 

Patintero

Photo from Patintero Sports Initiative

Probably my favorite outdoor game. I mean, do you remember how much pride and joy it gave you when you get to cross each grid without a tagger catching you? That was such a confidence booster. The kids in the yard played it with chalk (which I thought, then, was also very dangerous) or water to draw the grid lines. 

It looked fascinating from where I’d usually sit to watch. I get fidgety whenever a runner would try to cross a line, especially when a huge tagger guards it. I’d scream and cheer with them whenever they get past the biggest obstacle in the game, Kyle, my cousin. He was so sneaky and mischievous – even I got irked by his antics. 

But you see, it worked for his advantage. I thought then, “that’s what I needed to be – bigger” so I could protect myself and others. It took me a decade or two to realize that it isn’t always the case. Our relative size doesn’t make us strong – our determination does.  

A switch

Today, we see kids glued in front of the computer. Tapping nonchalantly on their mobile phones while snapping photos. Even though I am amazed by how intelligent and adept kids are these days, I still wish they would have enough chances to experience the best of both worlds. Each could teach unique lessons that will eventually become very useful when they play bigger games in life. 

Most traditional Filipino outdoor games are played with a team. As for usual, it would require teamwork and trust. The kids from when we were younger may have already played with various groups; some even represented the country. I bet these Larong Pinoy were their baptism of fire in bigger arenas for competitive plays – literally and figuratively.

Even from my window, with or without the actual experience of playing, these games have instilled in me the importance of collective work. Most importantly, they taught me to rejoice for other people’s triumphs and outweigh their shortcomings when they fail.

Whether as an onlooker or a team player, we should be gracious in giving support and encouragement whenever an opportunity calls for it. In some games, just like in life, you can only win as a team; but there are also games you have to win by yourself. So stay courageous. Find joy in what you do. Take care of your passion so it will take care of you. Stay driven. 

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