Kapampangan Indigenous Games and Amusements

    Lundagan Traditionally, children and older people love playing some of these indigenous games and amusement.

     Young children love to play the bale-balayan. It is a playhouse where the children pretend to be a family by playing the roles of the members of the family. They usually set their game in the backyard, nearby riverbank or under shaded trees. They prepare cooking utensils from clay; the improvised house is made of bamboos, branches and banana or palm leaves.



     Bansay is a game usually played by 5 to 10 members in a team. The players set the distance of their home bases and the rules of the game. There are two home bases where each opposing group camps to plan attack strategies. The game starts when a player is posted as a sacrifice or pawn (taya) near the aggressor’s camp. Once the pawn is attacked, the excitement of the race ensues. Like a war game, each camp sends troop to invade and capture as many captives and reports back to the home leader the accounts of the game. Usually, the leader attacks last to join the plank of runners. When players return to their home bases, and the game is over, the team leaders confer for the exchange of captives. When the number of captives is greater than what is bartered, the remainder will be held prisoner by the more aggressive camp. However, as a part of the game, they would only be released after being successfully saved by their remaining group mates. Thus, the next phase of the game begins. When the number of captives is greater than the number of survivors, the attempt weakens, and eventually, the fall of the group. When all is captured, the victors come home jubilantly carried at the backs of the losers to the delight of the winners.


Kawe / Dilu

     Kawe or dilu is swimming. Children learn to enjoy swimming because Lubao is a town of rivers and floods. When rivers get flooded during the rainy seasons, everybody wades (alug) into the water. During summer periods, rivers are made into water reservoir (tabun) to irrigate rice fields. Tabuns are pleasant substitute to pond and they provide swimming pool to the children.


     There are different swimming styles among children: back stroke (kawe sakinda), freestyle (kawe sable), side stroke (kawe talindiking), breaststroke (kawe salu/tugak), and butterfly stroke (kawe sulagpo).



     Piku is a game that uses a house figure drawn on the ground. The house is figured with several sizes of rooms where children hop without stepping on the line. At the end of the game, the player with the greater number of house rooms (marked with X) becomes the winner. Piku is generally a girl’s game.

     Tiltilan or the slipper relay is another exciting girls’ game using slippers (sapin or istepin) as the relay object. Two competing teams have 3 to 5 members. The game has a home base (bale) and a goal (pitiltilan). The home base serves as the start and finish line. The goal is three to five meters away from the home base. The objective of the game is to touch the goal area by a slipper worn or carried on a specified part of the body of the player without falling. Whoever finishes first wins the game. Each member wears, carries or inserts on the specified part of the body a slipper following these sequential positions: between the toes (taliring bitis), above the foot (sipitan bitis), back ankle (litid bitis), hand (gamat), elbow (litid gamat), shoulder (pago), ear (balugbug) and head (buntuk). During the relay, each player skillfully bends and carries the slipper from the home base to the goal without it falling to the ground. The player bends and dips the slipper into the goal. Playing alternately, the team who can successfully complete the race is declared winner. When a player drops the slipper by mistake, the game is repeated, thus, the other team gets the greater chance to win.

     Ebun-ebun is a relay that uses egg as its object. Two competing teams of five members each are seated in a row with their leader. Before the start of the game, the team leader instructs the members and prepares the game plan to outwit the opponents. The objective of the game is to pinpoint the member of the team who carries the egg. A wrong answer by the playing team entitles the other team for a long jump from the starting line. A correct answer permits the playing team the same privilege. Any member of the teams who successfully reaches the finish line is declared the winner. The triumph of the member is the victory of the team.


Pitsa / Syatong

     A male game pitsa or syatong uses two pieces of sticks (bamboo or wood) and a shallow hole on the ground. A short stick (cue stick) called the batu is about 4 to 5 inches long. It is positioned into a shallow hole on the ground and is struck by a longer stick (pamalu) of about one to two feet long. The farther the batu gets from the hole, the higher score the player earns. The score is recorded by the distance of the cue stick from the hole. The unit used to measure the distance is the longer stick.

     Goma is a game of rubber bands played by boys and girls. Labulan is rubber band blowing played either by two players or teams. Played in flat surfaces, it requires good blowing skill in order to sweep the stake (taya). The game is won when the rubber band gets over the other player’s rubber band.

     Pitikan is flicking with the fingers the rubber bands that are tied into a knot. The objective is to release the rubber band and capture those that are released from the knot. Similarly, sikaran or paldakan is kicking the rubber band. Players alternately use their feet to untie the rubber bands to capture those that will be released.

     Atsanan is rubber band throwing. The rubber bands are thrown by 2 to 4 players, one after the other, until a rubber band gets on top of another. The winner takes all those that were thrown.

     Sulutan is a game where the players cover the rubber bands on a mound of dirt or sand. Players use sticks to recover the rubber bands from the dirt. An enduring and exciting game, the sticks (panyulut) are too thin to hook out all the rubber bands.

     Lundagan is high jump in which the player runs forward to gain momentum and then jumps over a horizontal stick. The stick is raised higher in each successive round until all competitors have failed to get over it, while lundagan lubid is skipping rope. Skipping rope is rhythmic game that is played by a tandem or team. Oftentimes, skipping rope is individually played; yet, it is exciting because of its fancy and rhythmic executions. Luksung gamat is a modified high jump. Children play in pairs and their objective is to jump over the obstacles (the feet and hands adding to the height one after the other) without touching them. Luksung gulut is akin to luksung gamat. However, the former uses the back of the body as the obstacle. After a successful hurdle over one level, the next level is higher than the former. Both games are exciting.





      Abitan is tug of war. A game of stamina and teamwork, a line (gulis) is drawn between the teams’ areas to identify their boundaries. The two teams pull at opposite ends of a rope where the losing team is dragged across the line into the ground.

     Sintak is played with 8 to 10 pieces of pebbles and a ball or marble. Popularly played by girls, it is called jack stone. The game begins with ompis (jak-en-poy) to select the player to start the game. Ompis uses hand symbols for stone, nail, paper, scissors, etc. The paper wins against the stone or nail but losses from the scissors, etc.



     In sintak, the player spreads the pebbles on the floor and skillfully collects them according to an order of moves. The sequence starts from easy to difficult, picking one stone at a time at the same instance that the ball is made to bounce once and caught again after picking the objective number of stones. After the success on the first objective, the player picks two stones at a time, then three, four, up to the total number of stones. The opponent replaces the player when a mistake is committed.
Such is the case when wrong number of pebbles is collected or when the ball is not caught on time. The players alternately continue the sequence picking up from the last mistake. The series of the moves that players have to hurdle may increase in difficulty, from single hand that does the handling of the ball to acts that involve two hands. These fancy acts are: spreading the pebbles on the floor (padase) and picking them according to the objective number of pebbles; inserting the pebbles in between the fingers (pasipit) that are spread on the floor while the other hand tosses the ball; crossing the bridge (palipat) or transferring the pebbles one at a time from one side of the hand (which is the bridge made to rest on the floor) to the other side; put in the pocket (padatuk), where the other hand is positioned as a pocket and pebbles are placed one at a time; and fly around the world (padurut), where, after picking the pebble the player moves the hand in a circular motion before catching the ball. The first to finish all the series of fancy moves is declared the winner of the game. The winner gets the opportunity to flick the losing player’s hand.


Suplata / Tumbang Preso

     Suplata or tumbang preso is a game using tin can played by 5 or more children. A tin can (lata) stands in the center of a circle that is tightly secured by a guard (taya). About 6 to 8 meters from the standing tin, individual players simultaneously hurl their respective tin cans (pamira) to knock the hoisted can of the keeper (taya). During the game, whoever is caught by the keeper will be declared the next keeper of the game. With good runners, the game becomes thrilling and exciting.


Tambubung / Patintero

     Tambubung or patintero is a game played by 3 to 5 children in each of the two opposing groups. A rectangular figure is drawn on the ground and is symmetrically divided into quadrants. The lines are marked with water to keep the figure bright and visible during the entire game. A guard is assigned to each quadrant to cunningly prevent any opponent from entering into the domain. Any opponent who is caught by a touch while attempting to enter into any of the quadrant will be declared “out.” The disqualification of any of the member will allow the opponent to play the next round of the game. A victory is awarded to the winning group when it earns the majority runs in the game. Pusanan is the common award to the winners. Pusanan is carrying the winners at a distance.



     Ayo is a game using tiny shells (sige) between two players. Each player has one or two shells. These are called cues (batu). A player chooses the position of the cue shell (batu) before the start of the game. The player’s option is either sakub (the cue shell faces down) or sakinda (the cue shell faces up) positions. To win, the position chosen must appear when the shells are rolled. After each one has taken his choice, the players do the ompis to identify who the dealer (bangka) will be. When the dealer releases the shells from his hands the other player plays as the bidder. When the bidder puts down his bids (shells) on the ground, he is joined by other children in bidding. The excitement of the game starts as soon as the dealer (bangka) rolls down the shells on the ground. This play is a winner takes all game. It takes hours of playing until the players get bankrupt.

     Reminiscent of the ancient trading system in Lubao, the sige (scowry shell) is used as the medium of exchange in the market place. Shells come in different sizes, colors and forms.



     Diyolen is marble game between two players or teams (kasangga). Normally, four holes are shallowly bored on the ground 5-6 feet apart. Before the game starts, both players roll down their marbles in the first hole at a given distance to determine who starts first. This is called the starting line (pasigmanu). The goal is to bring the marble to the hole, or to get close to it.

     The distances from the hole of the marbles indicate the sequence of the player. The closest to the hole starts first. The marble game requires accuracy and tenacity. The player who brings his marble to home base successfully after attempting to shoot the marble to the sequence of holes is the winner. Obstructing marbles on the way to the home base may be captured by shooting them with the marble. As a rule, the winner declares the loser his slave (ipus). As the victor enslaves his captive around the holes of the play area, the master commands his slave to serve him while he plays. The next round of the game will only commence when the reward is obediently and scrupulously served by the loser.

     Buralul means kite. Burarulalan is kite flying. Usually in November and December, kites are flown in open fields. Examples of these kites are the sapi-sapi (made of folded paper), gurion (oval shape) and the common buralul (kite with tail).

     Lulu is a race game. Getting into races are bangka (boat), damulag (carabao), kakawe (swimmer), and mamulai (runners). Pulayan (i.e. marathon) is a running race while pulanditan is sprint. Lulu is a race of strength, stamina, energy and speed.

     Kurang-kurangan is a pottery making game. Out of moist clay (pila), children creatively mold or shape prototype pottery objects such as vases, pots, plates, chairs and tables, or any sculptured articles which they later dry.

     Salikutan is hide-and-seek. While players hide themselves in the most unlikely places, the seeker (taya) persistently searches and tracks everyone. When one is found, the seeker shouts pakbung! (The word corresponds to “found you”). The seeker and the player then quickly races to the home base and the seeker declares “out” if he gets ahead of the player. When all players have been searched, a new game starts. The first player declared “out” is the next seeker.



     Sabung is cockfighting. A localized cockfighting held in backyards is called the bularit. The prototype cockfighting arena is locally fenced with bamboos and shaded with palm leaves. Before the fight, cocks are matched (uluk) first to identify their weight (timbang). Gaming cocks come in a variety or combination of colors: talisain (green yellow), malutu (red), abuin (ash-red), bulik (gold-striped), sarasa (white and black striped), maputi (white), and binabai (hen feathered). Fighting cocks called tatso are fitted with steel or silver barbs or slashing razors (tari) before the cockfight begins. When inside the arena, either cock is assigned llamado (with higher bet) or dehado (with lower bet). When the bets (parada) are settled, the kristos (caller for bets) and aficionados (sabungeros) raise as many bets as possible in favor of their favorite cocks. Betting comes differently, i.e. sampu-anim (10-6), sampu-siyam (10-9), etc. The arena is filled with noise and excitement as betting calls are raised by the spectators. When the cocks are released into the ground by the sultadores (cock handlers), a game cock referee called sentensiador facilitates the fight. Upon release of the fighting cocks, a moment of silence tames the gallery in the arena. However, the lull explodes into dramatic emotions as fighting cocks exchange assaults with their ferocious beaks, claws and their horny spurs. The drama ends when the referee raises the triumphant fighting cock. Thus, losers start to draw their payments to the winners.

     Betu-betu is a game of chance that uses dice. It is played with three dice. In the betu-betu, the player (bangka) allows one or more opponents to make bets. Bets (taya) are placed on the preferred numbers by bettors (tataya) on the betu-betu board. When bets are placed, the player vigorously shakes the cup containing the dice and then opens it. If the numbers chosen by bettors appear, they will be paid the amount equivalent to the bet. If the number choice appears twice, the bettor will be paid twice the bet; or if any of the numbers appears on all the dice, the bettor’s bet will be paid thrice. If no one wins, the player sweeps all the opponents’ bets. When bettors simultaneously win and the player eventually loses his entire capital (puhunan), “game over” is declared. Mitiyab ya ing bangka (the player is bankrupt).



     Ipis is a game of ordinary deck of cards. Popular card games include kuajo, paris-paris (matching card similar to fan tan), and pusuy (inspired after poker).

     Loting is a two-number game. Bets on two preferred numbers (one to thirty seven) are made. The number preferences are based on superstitions: date of birth, anniversaries, incidences, omens, coincidences, or by simply guessing (pasakali or ula). Traditionally, winning numbers are won either exactly (tamak) or a pair among combined numbers (saklit). The winning numbers are awarded equivalent cash prizes. Tamak wins more than saklit.


4 thoughts on “Kapampangan Indigenous Games and Amusements

  1. There’s also a game of chance indigenous to Pampanga, it is played almost similar to Bingo. Instead of numbers, the characters on a deck of kuajo cards are used, the game is called Saparyut or Loteria. I believe nobody plays it anymore.

  2. Mapalad ang mga batang 90s na katulad ko dahil naranasan ko ang maglaro ng tumbang preso, piko, patintero, burarul, sintak etc. How I wish that our children of today are also aware of these indigenous games.

  3. I’m in my 40’s, I would remember those days when after school I would just climb up our bayabas or saresa tree and just watch from there the passing vehicles while eating the fruits of the tree. We would play kurang kurangan and make pur own little stove by putting three stones close to each other and pretend to cook. We would make our own ladle using tansan attached to ting ting walis stick. We do accessorize too by using cassava (kamoteng dutong) leaves together with its res stalk and turn them to necklace or bracelet and even sipit for our hair. I could go on…those days when children love playing under the sun and basking under the rain with nothing so much to worry about.

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