Real fun children’s games

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By Mimi Olarga

Points of View

Saturday, May 10, 2014

PIKO, ens-ens, balay-balay, lagsanay, Chinese garter, taguan, tinggayuhay, tumba-patis and many more. These to me are fun, innovative and real games for children.

In this time of high-end technology, these games are considered obsolete. Yet for the traditional ones and those of my generation, the real fun games are not found on the screen or at the tip of one’s fingers but on one’s fellowship with other kids.

This summer, I had a short stay in a coastal area and observed the slow unfolding of the simple life there. One impression I had was the little ones being engrossed with these simple games.


With “piko” or the innovative hopscotch, the skips and the leaps are all fun. Any chip picked from the nearby rubbles of flat stone or tile can be used. Much as the rectangles, squares and semi-circle can be drawn anywhere in the nearby road, shoreline, yard, or floor (as long as the players have the lime chalk, charcoal chip or pointed stick to make the demarcation symbol)the game is a test of adeptness, memory and preciseness.

The player should see to it that he/she will not step on the line, must jump one, two, three, four squares if the opponent has scored a house on the rectangle, and the chip must be thrown with accuracy.

The coding symbols of the players are fascinatingly creative. “Ens-ens” is an exciting game of marbles. “Titser-titseran” invites the small yet talkative one to play the role a teacher, with or without the eyeglasses and the pointer stick in front of his/her fellow toddlers.

“Bahay-bahayan” or playing the role of a mother, father and kids in a makeshift home under the table or a tent made out of blanket normally invites the chef’s imagination to concoct the greens of the leaves and the reds of the flowers into a family meal.

“Lagsanay” or habulan” is a seemingly simple yet amazing race of kids in a meadow or any space to the finish line.

“Taguan” or “panagu-ay” is the hide-and seek, which does not have limits if played in a bigger space. “Chinese garter or rubber band leaps” develops the athlete in a child and “pick-up-sticks” makes one entirely careful. These and many more games we, children before, used to play.

“But how about now?” I pondered as I watched the kids, so engrossed in their games.

Sentimental I may have become, but the scene made me ponder on the healthy, lively and fun lifestyle we had before beepers, mobile phones, play stations, x-boxes, and videogames came.

Kite-playing is a real treat during windy days. Makeshift paper pasted on crossed bamboo sticks with a piece of plastic for a tail and tied on a string brought in the fields of green and thrown high up in the air, with its tie made taut for it to fly high up in the air is an exciting adventure for both girls and boys, and the olds.

After such, the “habulan” would just follow, what with all the meadows proffered for the children for free to scuttle, to and fro.
Some kids earned bruises and scratches from jumping over a long stretch of tied “lastiko” or rubber bands, or climbing “aratiles” “mansanitas” , “sarisas” or wild cherries, for the foreign brand. How brave they are for facing squarely their wounds!

But going back to hopscotch, night- and -day, amazing race and role plays, the games, prevented the kids from becoming obese, sedentary and diabetic. Why? The scrambling, ambling and active kids do not worry much on these woes of modern life, because they are always on the go, and moving. They jump, move, and run, and they are always playing out in the sun. They do not have a sedentary life spent in front of a netbook, PC’s and Palms.

Well, you may say those are all used-to-be’s. Yes, but there is still the sun, the sea, the meadows and the fields to frolic and run. No need of IDs, passwords, paid chips, strata, or bills.

If those two kids in the coastal rural area found joy in the simplicities of the sand, the trees, and the sun, don’t you think there’s more fun and meaning to life if you try bringing back to today some, if not all, of used-to-be’s ?

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 10, 2014.


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