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  • We Ask Parents: What Games Did You Play When You Were a Kid?

    Games like patintero, hide and seek, tumbang preso were not just fun. They gave us lessons in life.
    by Regina Layug Rosero .
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.

  • Do your childhood memories include playing patintero in the streets? Were you climbing trees and picking fruits? Maybe you made paper airplanes and flew them with your friends. 

    Most people don’t realize it, but these childhood games are more than just trivial play. It taught us important life skills, including social skills, math skills, colors, language, and much more!

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.”

    Dr. Ma. Lourdes “Honey” A. Carandang, Ph.D., founder of the MLAC Institute, and a strong supporter of "Play It Forward (PIF)," a local program that strongly advocates play, adds, “When a child cannot play, that's a sign that something's wrong. Play is important for children because it gives them a sense of power over their environment, which is an antidote for depression. Play is not just important for the child's development; it's essential. It's not just the right of a child, it's a need of a child to play. It's the most natural way that a child expresses himself.”

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    So in honor of World Play Day today, May 28, we asked parents their favorite games from their childhood and how it has helped shape their lives. Ready to reminisce and teach our kids these games? 

    Mikee C. Jaworski 
    Mom to Robbie, Rafael, and Renzo 

    My favorite games from childhood are jackstones, Chinese garter, patintero, hide and seek, habulan, riding the bike, climbing trees, sports like volleyball, kickball, and softball.

    These games taught me about making friends, having fun, following rules, and playing fair. They taught me about integrity and how to win, but that sometimes you also lose. I learned about playing together with others, being a team player by contributing to others, and valuing how they contribute to a common cause. I learned about playing as an individual, and what happens when you do your best (or not).

    My favorite memories of playing include my friends, noise, laughter, sweat and fun competition!

    When we were young, we thought it was just fun and play. We do it to have a good time. But what we don't realize until later on how much we learned from all those fun times we had. As a parent, aside from enjoyment and valuing their victories, the best part is that our kids learn about dealing with mistakes and losses through situations that do not actually have serious consequences yet.

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    Terence Christopher Ang
    Dad to Ellia and Carys

    I loved playing with bricks and interlocking building blocks as a child.I remember the excitement of creating castles, vehicles and buildings. But what I found more fascinating was how I could create new things relying on my imagination, and not on the instructions that came with the building blocks.

    I learned that it was important to follow a process and pay attention to details to come up with something useful and beautiful.

     The constant rigor also challenged my creativity, as well as my capacity to think out of the box. In life, the principles we've mastered in a particular discipline or in following a particular process also give us the tools to create something new and innovative.

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    Sette Bihasa
    Mom to Samantha Kelsey


    My favorite games from childhood include hopscotch, tumbang preso, chinese garter, patintero, langit lupa. I remember the joy of interacting with numerous playmates, especially new neighbors.

    These games taught me to enjoy simple joys of life, but they also gave me a sense of responsibility and perseverance.

    They taught me to strategize and to celebrate small triumphs, whether in the household or at work. I learned the value of friendship at work and in the community. I learned that laughing at mistakes is better than overthinking them.

    Mel L. Cotejar
    Mom to Apple

     Nung bata ako, bago kami makapaglaro ng patintero, kelangan namin ng tubig para basain ang lupa na maging guide, so lahat ng maglalaro may dalang water sprinkler at kukuha ng tubig sa ilog saka ibubuhos sa lupa. Wala kasing semento sa laruan namin.  From games like piko, tumbang preso, and patintero, I learned important lessons — simple life, simple joys.

    Hindi mo kailangan ng magandang bagay o laruan para maging masaya. I also learned teamwork and unity.

    These games taught me to become resourceful, to strategize. I would love to see my child enjoying her childhood by playing and interacting with other children through games like these.

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    James Emmann Mercado Lim
    Dad to Muhammad Imran


    I grew up in the 80’s so when in the city, it was video games and LEGO. But during vacations like  summer, Christmas and sembreak, it was mostly group games: hide and seek, shiatong, catch, marbles, cards, rubber bands, bamboo and paper mash wars, spiders, tumbang preso. 
    These games taught me how to interact with others, and how play by the rules, as well as social skills. The computer games and LEGO taught me how to use my imagination, and that practice makes perfect.

    Chino Singson
    Dad to Vitto and Maggie

    I loved street games like pik0, patintero, and agawan-base, but I also played Monopoly and card games. My favorite memories are of staying up late to play patintero on the main road of the village with my friends because that's when no cars were passing by and the air was cool. What did I learn? Move quickly. Communicate with your teammates.

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    Therese Endriga Wigforss
    Mom to Nikos

    Some of my fondest memories of childhood play are the games of hide and seek that my cousins, my brothers and I used to play every Sunday at our grandparents’ place. We also did a lot of imaginative play — like pretending to cook with rocks, that we were statues so our Lolo’s chickens wouldn’t be scared. I think the only game of pretend I didn’t like was when my two older brothers pretended they were Hulk Hogan, and I was whatever evil wrestler needed to be body-slammed!

    In school, we played patintero but wow, that got political! It became the deciding factor on who would “own” the swing set on the school playground, and so batches would play against each other. I also liked agawan base and langit-lupa.

    It taught me that different people play different ways; that things aren’t always fair.

    I think the main thing play taught me was how to get along with other people, especially outside the family. Games really teach you how to manage the politics of dealing with different sorts of people; and even people who don’t like each other will band together to fight a common threat (thanks, patintero!). You learn a lot about teamwork; other people teach you hacks that help you do better next time you play. And that sometimes, when you least expect it, you might even win.

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    Vanessa Bicomong
    Mom to Celestine, Anthony, and Natalie

    When we had sleepovers with lots of kids, we played this game called King and Queen Up. We all sat in a big circle with a pillow in the middle, then we drew from a pile of pre-selected cards which included a King, a Queen, and a Jack. After that, we would all lie face down on the floor. 

    Someone would shout, "King and Queen up!" The kids who had the King and the Queen cards would sit up quietly. The Queen would point to one person, and the King would take the pillow and hit that person on the head. Then the King and the Queen would lie face down again. The victim would shout "Up!" and everyone would sit up.  The Jack then announces himself and helps the victim guess who the King is. If they're right, they both get to hit the King and the Queen on the head with the pillow. If they're wrong, the King and Queen get to hit each of them.

    I learned how to forgive those who cheated and those who hit too hard!

    Seriously, you learn how to take the good as well as the bad in people. You ultimately become a better friend. The children I played a lot with are my good friends until now. They are my kids' ninongs and ninangs. Even if we don't see each other often, the fun we had as children cemented our friendship as adults.

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    Pat M. Yulo
    Mom to Callie


    I was an only child, and I adapted a lot of my play to accommodate the fact that I didn’t have any playmates at home. I loved playing with Barbie dolls and making stuff for their house. When we used to have those long brownouts on Friday nights, my parents and I would play various card games, especially pekwa. We also played Trivial Pursuit. I loved that my parents would adapt the questions to match my age or skill level. When I did meet up with my friends, we spent a lot of time swimming and pretending we were mermaids.

    I feel like I developed a rich imagination playing by myself because I managed to occupy my time with things to do.

    I realize now as an adult that I need get “bored” because I’m always coming up with an idea for a craft or project, which is definitely something that stems from my need to find ways to occupy myself as a kid. I loved playing board games with my parents. I feel like we developed a special bond doing something like that as a family, and now we’re trying to provide the same experience for our daughter. She’s currently really into chess, which is challenging for me, so she is able to win fair and square on this one!

    This article was done in collaboration with "Play It Forward," a science- and evidence-based intervention that combines play spaces and curriculum to maximize the therapeutic and developmental benefits of play. Its sub-programs, "Play It Forward Wellness" and "Play It Forward Resilience," provide psychosocial support to pediatric patients and to children in vulnerable areas such as post-disaster or disaster-prone communities, respectively. Support Play It Forward and make play happen for children all over the Philippines. Visit Unilab Foundation to learn more.

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