• Day Pajarillo

Larong Pinoy: Mga laro ng aking kabataan (Filipino Games: The games of my childhood)


Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash


This post was originally written in Filipino. English translations are italicized after every paragraph.


Noong mabasa ko ang mga titulo na pagpipilian para magsulat, "Filipino games", nagbalik ang aking alaala ng aking kabataan.


When I first read the title of this article prompt “Filipino games”, I remembered memories of my childhood.


Noong ako ay nasa elementarya pa, hindi pa uso ang makabagong teknolohiya kaya ang tanging libangan naming mga bata ay ang maglaro sa labas, sa bakuran ng aming tinitirahan na apartment sa Project 3, Quezon City. Pag may mga mas matandang bata naman ang natutuwang makipaglaro sa amin, lumalakas loob namin lumabas sa kalsada. Wala pang masyadong mga sasakyan pag gabi noong araw at panahon din ng batas militar.


When I was studying in elementary school, new technologies were not trendy, so our recreational hobby as youth was to play outdoors. We would play in the compounds of our old residential apartment in Project 3, Quezon City. Older kids who would join us would make us feel more courageous to play in the streets which vehicles seldom frequent during the night and during the time of martial law.



Photo by Wander Fleur on Unsplash


Kampante ang mga magulang namin na isang sutsot lang nila sa amin ay magkakaripasan na kami ng takbo pauwi. Ang galing kasi dahil alam namin ang sutsot ng kanya-kanya naming mga magulang kahit pa nasa kabilang kanto kami. May mga takot kami sa magulang namin at baka mapalo kami or mapagkandaduhan ng pinto. Nakakahiya sa kapitbahay na nag-iiyak kami sa labas ng bahay namin at nagmamakaawa para lang makapasok sa bahay. May panakot sila sa amin na mga aswang, at kung anu-ano pang mga maligno, na kukuhanin daw kami at kakainin ang mga laman loob namin, o di kaya naman ay hindi na kami pauuwiin sa aming mga pamilya ng mga engkanto, at meron pang ilalagay kami sa bayong at ibubuhos ang dugo namin para pampatibay ng ginagawang tulay.


Our parents were confident with us playing outdoors. With one whistle, they knew that we’d come running home. As kids, we can recognize the sound of their whistle from a far distance. After all, we had a fear that we might get scolded or punished for disobeying their orders. It would be so embarrassing since our neighbours would hear our cries as we beg to be let in our houses, which was locked by our parents who would try to teach us a lesson for our behaviour. Our fear was heightened since our parents would tell us stories of the aswang and other supernatural entities, which they would say would take us away, eat our innards, or prevent us from coming home to our families. Another story they shared was how enchanted creatures would keep us inside a basket and draw our blood on new bridges to keep them strong.


Napakasaya ng kabataan namin noon dahil nakita namin ng aking mga kababata ang paglaki namin. Nabawasan man kami, wala naman napahamak sa amin o nalulong sa kung anong masamang bisyo. Nakita din namin na nagka sari-sarili kaming pamilya at ngayon nga ay may mga apo na kami.


Our childhood was joyful. And now as my contemporaries and childhood friends are older, although incomplete in number, we feel happier to see each other grow up to be great adults, free of any vices. We not only witnessed each other’s growth, but also witnessed our families grow bigger and us having grandchildren of our own.


Napakaraming laro noon, kung ililista ko lahat ng aking nasalihan, mahigit pa sa tatlumpu ang bilang. At iyan ay sa lugar lang namin. Sa aking pagsasaliksik, nabasa ko na mas marami pa sa iba’t ibang probinsya.


If I were to list the number of games we’d play back then, there’d be more than 30 games on that list. And to think, that list encompasses the games in our area. In my research, I read how different provinces have various games.


Ang mga paborito ko sa larong panlabas ay ang taguan, syato, patintero, chinese garter at jokolelengs. Nagtetext din kami pero mga maliliit na baraha ang aming gamit, na pipitikin para magsilipad pataas at sisigaw kami ng “tsa” pag nakatihaya or “tsub” pag nagkataob ang mga teks namin. Larong kalye, ika nga, laro ng mahihirap. Mga madungis na bata na mga nag-aaral sa pampublikong paaralan. Pero kami yung pinaka-masaya at walang pakialam kahit amoy araw, amoy lupa, o amoy kalawang kami.


My favourite ones are hide-and-seek, syato, patintero, chinese garter, and jokolelengs. We’d play card games, in spite of the card’s small size, and we would flick them upwards. We’d shout “tsa” if it was facing upwards, and shout “tsub” if facing downwards. As some would say, these were games of the streets, of the poor -- that children who went to public school would play. In spite of that, we were the happiest. We were nonchalant, even of our own smell, because of the fun we had.


Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash


Bandang hapon pagkagising namin sa sapilitang pagpapatulog ng aming mga tagapag-alaga, papayagan na kaming lumabas at makipagkita sa mga kapitbahay namin. Parang “meeting” habang kumakain kami ng ice buko o ice candy. Minsan ay mainit na taho na nabili namin sa naglalako. Mag-aaya ang isa ng laro na maisip nya at kung payag kaming lahat, mag-kakampihan kami, at mag-pipilian sa pamamagitan ng pompyang. Ipagpapatong-patong namin ang aming mga kamay sa gitna habang nakapa-bilog kami, sabay-sabay namin itataas ang aming mga kamay at ibababa ng nakaharap ang mga palad o nakataob. Ang mga magkakapareho ang syang magkakampi. Bato-bato pik o jack n poy ang mga sobra.


Sometime in the afternoon, our guardians would immediately allow us to play outside with our neighbours as soon as we wake up. Our friendly meetings consist of eating ice buko or ice candy or hot taho which we would buy from a street vendor. Then, one of us will prompt a game they just came up with and if the majority of us agree to it, we’d start making teams through pompyang. How this works is by forming a circle and putting out all of our hands in the centre point, one on top of the other. Altogether, we would raise our hands and put down our hands at the exact time. People who put their hands in the same manner (facing upwards or downwards) will be teammates for the game. The extra players will play rock paper scissors to establish their final groupings.


Kapag tag-ulan, o kung hindi namin gustong makipaglaro sa labas dahil kami ay mga batang babae, minsan ayaw kaming isali ng aming mga kuya, naglalaro kami ng sungka, jackstone, at mimpaw (chinese jackstone). Gumagawa lang kami nito: limang maliliit na unan na may lamang bigas o munggo na pampabigat -- ang apat at magkakapareho ng kulay at ang panglimang unan ay naiiba para aming pamato.


During the rainy season or during those times when we would not like to play out as young girls, we would play sungka, jackstone, and mimpaw (chinese jackstones). For mimpaw, we would make them by hand by sewing 5 little pillows, which we fill with heavy little objects (ex: seeds) for weight. Four of which are of a similar colour while one differs because it is used as our Jack (as in the ball in jackstones).



Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash


Pagka minsan naman ay mga larong kathang isip hango sa mga napapanood namin sa telebisyon or na-oobserbahan sa pang araw araw na pamumuhay. Itatali namin ang mga dulo ng mga kumot sa silya o bintana para meron kaming bubong sa gawa-gawang opisina o tindahan. Pag may gunting at papel kami, gumagawa kami ng sarili naming makinilya at kunwari ay mga mang-uulat kami sa dyaryo. Gumugupit din kami ng sari-sarili naming pera pag naglalaro naman kami ng tinda-tindahan.


Some games that we play are either based on our own imagination, inspired by shows we would watch on television, or by everyday life observations. We would use blankets, large enough to create a roof for our pretend little office or store, by tying them to the ends of chairs or windows. If we had papers and scissors, we would make our own typewriters as we pretended to be journalists for a newspaper. We’d also make our play money, which we use for our imaginary store, using paper.


May laro din kami na nagpapalakpakan at kakanta ng “nanay tatay” o kaya naman ay “bahay kubo”, tapos bibilangin namin ang aming mga palakpak. Talo ang magkamali. Napaka malikhain namin noon at puno ng saya. Ngayon ay nalulong na ang mga bata sa mga gadgets at social media.


Another game we would play involved singing “Nanay Tatay” or “Bahay Kubo”. As we all sang the song, we would clap our hands, and whoever makes a mistake in counting loses. Games back then were imaginative and jovial. Now, however, children are enticed with gadgets and social media.


Noong araw, pag naglalaro kami, pakiramdam namin may malaking premyo sa huli, kahit wala naman. Tama na sa amin ang makaramdam ng panalo at maglulundagan kami sa tuwa. Ang mga talunan naman, syempre, malungkot. Pero bukas ulit, iba naman mga kakampi namin. Kaya hindi naman laging talo.


Back then, playing games felt rewarding, even if we didn’t receive any tangible reward for our winnings. We were grateful for the feeling of winning: we'd be jumping and laughing after the game. While losing could make us feel sad, we were always looking forward to the next time we’d play with our new set of teammates. So, we didn’t always lose.


Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash


Magkakalaro lang kami ng magkakapitbahay masaya na kami. Minsan, may mga taga ibang kalye na maririnig kami na nagsisigawan habang naglalaro, sisilip sa gate ng compound namin at nakikisali. Sa ganoong paraan, dumadami mga kakilala at kaibigan naming mga bata.


Our regular playmates were our neighbours. Other kids from nearby streets would hear our enjoyment and would try to take a look at our games through the gate of our compound. Because of that, we’d get to know new people and form new friendships.


Nakakatuwa din maalala yun larong “bumtiyaya bumyeye”, magkahawak kami ng mga kamay, nakapabilog sa taya. Kahit gaano karami ang sumali, tapos ay sisiksik kami sa mga ilalim ng magkahawak na kamay. Bawal ang bumitaw, para kami ay magkabuhol-buhol. Susubukan ng taya na maiayos kami. Ang makabitaw ang siyang papalit sa taya. Pag nag sumasapit na ang mga kaarawan namin, maraming bata ang imbitado, hindi puro matatanda.


I fondly remember games such as “bumtiyaya bumyeye”, which requires players to hold each other’s hands, encircling the “it”. Without breaking the circle, we would try to make a human tangle, which the “it” would have to try untangling. If one lets go of the other, then they would have to replace the “it”. Therefore, birthday parties are filled with friends whom we’ve met during our outdoor play sessions.


Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash


Masasabi ko na dahil sa larong pinoy namin noon, hanggang ngayon na kahit nasa ibang bansa na ang karamihan sa amin, magkaibigan pa rin kami, dahil na rin sa makabagong pamamaraan ng pagkakaibigan: mga makabagong teknolohiya. Usapan namin mga mag-kababata na pag sabay-sabay kaming nag siuwi sa Pilipinas ay maglalaro ulit kami ng syato, sungka, at jackstone. Huwag na yun chinese garter at hindi na kami makakatalon ng mataas, hindi gaya nung mga bata pa kami.


Because of these childhood games, I’ve made lifelong friends who, despite living in various parts of the world, have continued our friendship through the innovative forms of online communication. We would talk about how we would visit the Philippines altogether and play the games of our childhood: syato, sungka, and jackstone. Maybe not chinese garter anymore though, since we could not jump as high as we used to, back when we were children.



English translations by Isabela Quito Villanoy

Day Pajarillo is a Filipino immigrant who arrived in Canada in 2008 as a food service worker. Day is a visual artist, fashion designer, and educator who took up a year studying an architectural course at the Far Eastern University (FEU) Manila in 1985 Manila. She also pursued a Fashion Design course at Slim’s Fashion and Arts school in Makati, Philippines in 1986. She graduated from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, Painting major in 1992. In 1993, she took up one semester studying a Masters in Art of teaching major in Art Education at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City before getting married. She also attended the advanced fashion design class in 2001, held by the late Danilo Franco, a well-known celebrity fashion designer in the Philippines. Her interests are human figures and movements, facial expressions, everyday life, history of arts, cultural arts, and dances of the world.


“Human figures, movements, actions, and facial expressions fascinates me. I paint and draw a lot of it. When I get bored, I paint other subjects like mountains, flowers, bodies of water and animals. A colleague said I’m a versatile artist.”- daypajarillo


She has participated in ‘Black History Month’ kick off held in the Calgary central library on February 1, 2020 with the ICAI Immigrant Council of Artists innovation. She also participated in the 'Artful Seniors' (Calgary central Library) and ‘Heart For Art’ (Eau Claire Market), with the CAAP Canadian Artists against Poverty. She was a resident artist and gallery ambassador for the INKubator Gallery in Northland Mall in 2019. Day is a Board member, an active participant, volunteer, and art instructor since 2018 for the CAAP. In April 2021, Day Pajarillo was the featured artist of the month for ICAI along with a month-long exhibit at the Calgary Central Library as well.



“My current practice is modern art, contemporary painting, leaning to impressionism and cubism with people as my main subject. I am happy when I paint human figures, movements and portraits. There is an infinite availability of subjects to paint in different approaches, which makes it more interesting when I just let my imagination guide me and be surprised with the outcome.” -daypajarillo


Presently, she is a very busy full time visual artist and grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren. She has just finished a public art project for the Calgary Homeless Foundation to be unveiled in September 2021. It will be permanently installed along with the bench on which the backrest she also designed.


Day's goal in life is to live a life that she doesn't have to work hard for, and that is being an artist. That is her ultimate dream. She envisions a life where she enjoys travelling, advocating for arts, and volunteering to teach those who cannot afford to take art lessons. And if time permits, she would study to become an art therapist and learn a lot more on how she can teach better, especially for the vulnerable sector.


Follow Day's creative journey through Instagram and Facebook.






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