In this technology-driven world where almost everyone – including children – practically live a virtual lifestyle, only a handful of those who are aware of indigenous street games remain.
After school or during weekends, children retreat to their own little world — watching TV shows for hours on end, or playing computer games at home, at internet shops, or malls.
Left with a little choice, modern-day parents usually join their kids and succumb to the lure of technology for the purpose of bonding.
But are these children losing the real joys of childhood to temporary happiness afforded by computer games?
STREET GAMES VS. COMPUTER GAMES
“Ang mga lumaki sa computer games, walang kababata, walang kalaro. Meron lang sila ka-chat. They are usually couch potatoes who may even have a hard time accepting defeat,” points out Dickie Aguado, executive director of Magna Kultura Foundation.
Since 2001, this education-for-development non-government organization has been on a mission to revive the playing of street games or Larong Pinoy among the youth in schools and residential communities.
With students from over 80 public schools now into these native street games, plus a Department of Education memorandum that orders the games’ integration in the curriculum, Magna Kultura’s advocacy gains solid ground and gets the much-needed support from corporate citizens.
At the Epifanio delos Santos Elementary School (EDSES) in Singalong, Manila, for instance, students are not just actively playing street games but are made to realize the values and benefits of these games.“Mas maraming kaibigan, mas enjoy tapos nagiging healthy ka pa.
Sa PSP (Playstation) wala kang kausap, parang nagsasalita lang mag-isa. Hindi masaya,” says Sydney Dormitorio, a Grade 6 student at EDSES.
Andrea Jane Ocampo, sixth grader, adds that by playing street games, she has learned to cooperate with people. She also gained a lot of friends and became physically fit. “Sa computer games, mata lang, mga daliri at isipan ang gumagana. Sa larong Pinoy, di lang mahahasa ang isip mo pero buong katawan ma-eexercise,” notes 12-year-old Joshua Mark Orpilla.
ESKUWELARO: A SCHOOL FOR GAMES
E. Delos Santos Elementary School (Paco, Manila) principal Carmen Siao says only the movements used in these native games were initially incorporated in the DepEd curriculum. It was only lately that larong Pinoy is being actively promoted by Magna Kultura with game manuals and official tournament rules.
“We have a learning continuum that is tailored for each grade level. This includes the teaching of calisthenics and western games. Usually, native games are being played only in the neighborhoods and not in school. Pero dapat talaga maging aware ang mga bata na may sarili tayong laro. Ang mga computer games nakakabobo pero ang larong Pinoy, it will even help them develop nationalism and pride in being a Filipino,” she stresses.
Magna Kultura Foundation has been organizing sports clinics for multinational companies as well as kite-flying festivals since the late 80s. “Our goal is to bring the games back into the mainstream of society. We teach it in schools, bring it to the barangays, and encourage children to play it in communities.
We are also institutionalizing it by putting up a school for larong Pinoy, which we call Eskuwelaro (a.k.a. school clinics) where we teach the systematic way of playing the games step-by-step,” explains Aguado. “On top of it, there is also the ultimate aim in using larong Pinoy to promote patriotism among the new generation; encourage family bonding with parents and relatives who played these games when they were kids; and to enliven the communities, and generate livelihood in the neighborhood.”
According to Dickie Aguado, there are about 50 native games classified into five categories.These include Indoor Games, Fiesta Games (pabitin, paluan ng palayok, palosebo, agawang buko),Street Games (patintero, luksong baka, piko, tumbang preso, luksong lubid, taguan), Hurdle Games (habulan, agawang base), and Indoor Games (sungka, dama, and even Games of the Generals which was invented by a Filipino).Apart from these, there are also the Tsinoy games such as chinese garter, checkers, and chinese jackstones.Dickie Aguado says these street games are so numerous that one can even create an Olympics with it!
E. Delos Santos Elementary School Physical Education teacher Manly Jose Junio underscores how street games promote total fitness — from the physical with the locomotor(moving from one place to another) and non-locomotor (moving on-the-spot without going anywhere) movements incorporated into the mental fitness.
“Sa street games, nandiyan ang iba’t ibang kilos. Sa piko, yung pagkakandirit o paglundag ng isang paa lamang.
Sa patintero yung pagtakbo ng pa-eskape o parang takbo ng kabayo.
May basics ng gymnastics sa piko, yung pagkuha ng pamato habang nagbabalanse ka na nakataas kamay at isang paa.
Luksong lubid promotes endurance while luksong baka, cooperation and trust in oneself. In playing patintero, you learn to strategize, develop self-confidence and ability.
Tumbang preso promotes presence of mind, fast thinking and movements, as well as agility. May mga batang mahiyahin pero pag pinaglaro mo nawawala na at lumalabas yung talento,” Junio explains.
BUILDING A SPORTS INFRASTRUCTURE
Aguado reveals that one of the reasons why the games are not as popular is because there is no infrastructure. There are no sports clinics or tournaments, and and only a handful of merchants are selling larong Pinoy toys.“So the real task is to build an infrastructure. Not just to organize games here and there, but to build an ecosystem to revive it — from providing schools with exciting materials, to conducting sports clinics, building sports clubs, and finally, launching tournaments as venue for players to make use of their skills. Along with all these, activating retail selling of toys in neighborhood stores, and creating a tipping point for the retailers to derive profit from it.’’ Aguado says.
During tournaments, Magna Kultura conducts its own trade promotions marketing efforts and aligns with the sari-sari stores within the neighborhood, to load toys and materials that will be used in the street games to make it available for the players while at the same time, helping the merchants earn.
The task is easier in every Barangay as Magna Kultura maintains an active data-base network of over 80,000 sari-sari stores in Metro-Manila.
“One of the main reasons why children are un-able to play the games is because there are no toys available”, according to Aguado. “That’s the reason why we are aligning with the retail stores. The livelihood program with retail stores is part of building the infrastructure for reviving the games back in the mainstream of society. We have to involve the retailers and let them see that there’s business in Larong Pinoy as a sport.”
Aguado also noted that, currently, there is no company or product that owns Larong Pinoy. “The opportunity to make Larong Pinoy as part of a brand’s equity that delivers day-after sales is tremendous” Aguado says, “because the market is not only composed of children, but encompasses living generations of adults, from parents to grandparents. Not to mention the fact we are aligned with all the sari-sari stores in Barangays.”
“We are reviving a cultural treasure. We are re-institutionalizing it back in the mainstream of society. We want it to be popular again. And the only way to do that is to make it visible in the streets. To make sure, we are creating advocates and building an ecosystem in communities. When these children grow up and learn to play western games in their school P.E. classes, we hope the playing of larong Pinoy will not stop there but continue to be played, and passed on from one generation to another,” he adds.
Aguado says Magna Kultura’s aim is to have an inter-district, inter-city, and hopefully a national tournament or Pambansang Palarong Pinoy in the near future, producing athletes who are truly proud of being Filipinos and the games they play.
In the meantime, the social and cultural advocacy continues, even as they spur social enterprise with retailers in communities in an effort to build a sports infrastructure. With Aguado’s experience in pioneering various sports clinics in the 1990’s, along with organizing a nationwide kite-flying festival, he says that the formula for cultural entrepreneurship will ensure that they will be able to revive the games of our heritage in the mainstream of society.
Dickie Aguado is the Executive Director of Magna Kultura Foundation, an education-for-development NGO that promotes arts & culture in the Philippines; a Social & Cultural Entrepreneur who implements community engagement programs at the grassroots of Society; conducting Cause-Related Campaigns and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs in society.