Kids’ games in the Philippines: Let the games begin!


Growing up as a typical Filipino kid in the 90’s meant playing on the streets with your neighbors until sundown.  I used to walk to my schoolmate’s house a few streets away from mine, just so we could play all sorts of games – from the typical taya-tayaan (tag) in variations of Langit, Lupa  and Monkey-Monkey-Anabel to playing bahay-bahayan where we pretend running a household and “cooking” sand and soil as our “food”.

Langit, Lupa – literally “heaven, earth”, is short for Langit, Lupa, Impyerno, or “heaven, earth, hell”.  This game is played like the typical tag, except that when you are on elevated places (langit/heaven) like the sidewalk or a bench, you are safe or immune from being tagged.  Monkey-Monkey-Anabel is also a variation of the game tag, where tagged players are supposed to stay put and shake their hips in place until everybody else is tagged and shaking.  The name of the game comes from the chant we sing when we determine who’s going to be it (we sing this while pointing at each player until the song ends.  When the song ends, the last player pointed to with the word unggoy, is the it):

Monkey, monkey, Anabel

Sinong matalo siyang unggoy!

(Whoever loses is the monkey (it)!)

Playing physical games was a big part of my childhood. In the age of Ipads, Gameboys, and everything virtual, I can understand now why our generation was termed as the last physically active generation.  Running along the streets of my neighborhood helped me improve my physical health and social skills – something most parents fear for their kids nowadays.

But of course my childhood wasn’t just purely physical and active.  At home, I loved playing Scribbage, more popularly known as Word Factory, and Scrabble with my family too.  I was active but I was also sickly.  That’s why when we’re all stuck at home, we play word games.  I guess being exposed to word games early subconsciously triggered my love for languages.  I enjoyed playing word puzzle games and took pride in being one of the fastest in answering Word Search.

Nowadays, it seems different.  Kids are spending more time playing by themselves and their tablets, which is undoubtedly more entertaining and convenient.  However, it would be nice for kids to experience the great outdoors like we did.  I would recommend using tablets for reading (the free books that come with free ebook reader applications are just amazing!) as well as word puzzle games like Word Search and Text Twist.  But to encourage their physical and social growth, it would be good to bring them to local playgrounds or enroll them in summer workshops, like art, swimming, soccer, cooking, or music.

It amazes me how much the word “games” has evolved in meaning as I grew up – from running along our streets to today’s myriad of computer applications.  It has gone from physical and social to virtual and individual.  It’s the same word but with different meanings.  I think that’s what makes languages interesting!  It continues to evolve and it’s like a game in itself – you learn it individually and practice it with others; and you can learn it physically in school, or virtually from the internet.  Sometimes the rules change, or new rules arise.  Whatever it is, just keep in mind that in any game that you play in life, it is important that you learn the game well, play the game right, and enjoy the experience all together!

About Hazel Fajardo

Based in the Philippines, Hazel is a student of chemical engineering with a broad interest in life around her. She has been teaching English as a Second Language and loves photography and diving.