Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hope for our old games

I woke up to the sounds of rowdy children outside. The noise of a sardine can being turned-over again and again was echoing in my ear. Clank. Clank. Clank.

Through the window I saw little children playing TumbangPreso(a Filipino traditional game where the goal is to hit a can using slippers). As much as I was agitated for therude awakening, a stunning realization came over me.

With the advent of modern entertainment, indigenous games are slowly dying. Children nowadays prefer playing on computers rather than go outside. Although there is nothing wrong with playing computer games, playing them at the price of forgetting our own heritage isn’t good. 

Identity and memories

Our old games are more than just games. They speak of a culture developed centuries ago. Indigenous games are also imbedded with the Philippine identity. Every country has their own repertoire of games. TumbangpresoandPatintero (a local version of tag) are only but a few of native games that is purely Filipino.

As trivial as they might seem, games unite the Filipinos to one memory. With games every grown Filipino is reminded of a cherished chapter in their lives—childhood.

The sight of children playing, brings us back to simpler times, when cans and bare hands were enough to keep us occupied for hours. Because of our indigenous games, we can go through a time machine and become enveloped with a myriad of sensations: the crisp cool air touching

our face; the sweet chattering of our friends arguing over the rules; and the beautiful sunset looming over the horizon reminding us to enjoy the last minutes of playtime before mom calls us home for the 6 o’clock rosary.

A mark of Philippine resourcefulness 

Only in the Philippines will you find children playing with old cans. Most ethnic games do not require fancy gears like gaming consoles and computers. For a Filipino child, things found in nooks and crannies can become makeshift toys. A tree branch can become a wooden sword. A two-way radio can even be made by only attaching two cups with a wire. If left with no materials, the children rely on their biggest tool—their minds. Suddenly, the streets turn into forests and the houses transform to become castles. For the Filipino children, their ingenuity lie not in their improvised toys but in their colorful imagination.

Building stronger bonds

Surprisingly, our daily trips outside brought the entire neighborhood closer. Kumpadresand kumares laugh at the thought of the past. They vividly remember every game they played, occasionally chuckling at the memory of them crying over losing a round of Patintero. Fast forward 20 years, those little children are still friends.

Perhaps our local games developed one defining Filipino trait—friendliness.

Since our games we’re interactive, you needed to develop people skills in order for fights to be avoided. This ability to compromise led Filipinos to be adaptive even to the most volatile of situations.

The contentment with hanging out with friends have instilled in us a high value for friendship over material things. Our shared past made the community stronger because we grew up together and still live near each other. This is the reason why Filipinos rarely have awkward moments with old friends because of the strong bonds developed through the years.

The rise of social media

Even if social media keeps old friends close, the current generation has grown too lazy to go outside and have a chat. They much prefer interacting in the virtual words of Facebook and Twitter. Ironically, some teens send text messages to the person beside them! The Philippines is the most active in social networks and it’s obvious that the value of personally talking to someone has diminished.

Echoes of the past

Let’s not wait until we’ll only see these games in a documentary, soon to be archived and then forgotten. The different Philippine native games are only ours to keep and there is no one else to blame if we are to lose them. They are part of our identity, childhood and everything that makes us Filipinos.

The most valuable of things aren’t touched, they are remembered. This dying tradition is priceless for if we lost it, we lost it completely.

It’s nine o’clock in the evening as I write this. Still, the children aren’t tired form playing. The constant ‘clank’ from the sardine can still echoes in my ear.

But instead of going outside and get mad at them, I let it be. If being pestered by their noise is what it takes to keep out traditions alive, so be it. After all, they’ll only experience childhood once, they might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

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