It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time, children were not glued to phones or consoles or laptops all day. Nor were they into other conventional things like basketball, ultimate disc, badminton or soccer, but diversions from a simpler, more innocent (and slightly more hazardous, less hygienic) time.
True, the sweltering heat these days makes playing outside seem like torture, but it’s good to reminisce that not too long ago, kids actually went outside and hung out with other kids to play games out in the streets, in the village, the neighborhood or the barrio. If you recall afternoons spent running around and laughing or arguing about who was ‘taya’, then this article is for you.
If you’re a parent itching to separate your kids from their gadgets, try adding a twist to these games to update them and / or make them part of your weekend (indoor) activities. Throwing in a little nostalgia (Nung bata kami, heto ang laro namin… / When I was a kid, these are the games we used to play) won’t hurt, either.
Literally translated as “thorn jumping” this game required at least two to three players. They would decide amongst themselves as to which one will get to be the Jumper while the rest would be the Thorns. The Thorns sat on the floor or ground, with their feet touching, sole to sole, while the Jumper would jump over them, making sure not to come into contact with any body part of the Thorns players. If the Jumper was successful, the Thorns would proceed to up the ante by creating an artificial barrier using their legs. With each successful jump, the Thorns would raise the barrier further, eventually using their arms to prevent the Jumper’s success. Eventually, the Thorns would also get a turn and the Jumper would switch roles with them.
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Moro-Moro (Agawan Base) Usually played in a wide, open area, Moro-Moro required practically all the kids in the neighborhood or a classroom. The number varied between 4 and 10 kids per team (with as equal a number between them as possible) although more could play depending on the size of the play area. Each group assigns a spot like a pole or a pillar of a building as a base and the kids play a more complex version of tag with each other. The kids approaching the enemy base can tag the base by touching it, resulting in a point, usually up to whoever scores five points first. The defenders of the base can tag the attackers and if they succeed, the attacker becomes a prisoner, who then holds the pole and stretches himself or herself outward, like a human link. If any of her teammates comes to touch her, she is freed and returns to her team.
An interesting and fairly original tag variant, Tumbang Preso (‘Falling Prisoner’) involves up to 9 or 10 children with one chosen as the ‘it’. An old can is placed in a target area with a circle drawn around it (these games are ideally played on dry, open earth where lines can be drawn with no obstruction from grass or weeds) to note the area the can must be in to be declared ‘safe’. A line is drawn a few meters away from the can – this is where the rest of the players line up to attempt to topple the can with a puck (usually one’s own slipper, flip-flop or a stone). If a child throws her slipper and topples the can, the ‘it’ must retrieve it and restore it to the target area, while the thrower must also reacquire said footwear or else she in turn will become ‘it’. Note that her fellow players can assist her by running towards the toppled can to take it away from the ‘it’.