The thrill and delight I see in the faces of children as they play computer games and play stations bring back precious memories of my fun-filled childhood years. When we were young, we didn’t have money for toys, and having a television set was beyond our imagination. But out of sticks, tin cans, and stones, we were able to build a world of our own. A world of fun and laughter a thousand miles apart from the electronic games of today.
Patentero, luksong tinik, piko, taguan, habulan, sikyo and tinda-tindahan, were some of the games we used to play. Tinda-tindahan was my favorite. We arranged various kinds of leaves, stones, and seeds on our makeshift stores. Our specialty was green jelly made from heart-shaped leaves which we crushed, mixed with water and allowed to set, usually on coconut shells.
We transformed oblong cans of sardines into delivery trucks. We poked four holes on its side, inserted walis ting-ting for its axle and used tibig fruits or bottle caps for tires. A string was tied at the end of the can for pulling. We used it to haul stones and leaves for our mini-store. We roamed around the yard as proud owners of our self-engineered cars. Admirably, some of the older boys were able to make their own trolleys out of discarded motorcycle bearings and few pieces of wood.
And what fun we had playing marbles, rubber bands, jack stone and our very own siklot? When we wanted an all-girls amusement, we played the “beauty shop” game were we took turns being an in-house beautician and a very patient customer.
Occasionally, we formed groups especially when we played sikyo. In playing “bahay-bahayan”, we utilized palapa (coconut leaves) for the roof and cardboard boxes for the walls of our “little house”. We had lots of fun in eating and pretending to live in our makeshift homes. We even dressed up to be like “mother” and “father”.
During rainy days other kinds of enjoyment emerged. We ran and danced with great delight around the neighborhood under the pouring rain. Afterwards, we played paper- boat racing on puddles formed after the rain. We splashed and stomped our feet on the muddy water which made our mothers fume with anger. On windy days it was time for “boka-boka”, the simplest version of paper kites.
For us, all the neighborhood was one vast playground. Fruit trees were abundant. We climbed guava, tiesa and lansones trees and feasted on their fruits. When a tree has fallen after a storm, we used it as our payugyugan. Here, one or two of us would step on the big branch and as we shake our bodies, the branch would shake as well, giving us one jiggling ride.
A sled became available when a bunga palm shed its leaf. Its sheath is long, wide, durable, and offers a good seat for an exciting ride. Each of us took turns in pulling the leaf while one sat on its wide portion. To pull a kid’s weight is tough, so when it was my turn to be pulled, I felt like a queen.
The stream nearby was our swimming pool where we enjoyed a good swim in its clear, cool water after washing clothes. Catching small fishes and shrimps also brought unimaginable delight. Sometimes we simply gathered edible ferns.
Like older folks, we also quarreled. We shouted and bad-mouthed each other. Nevertheless, I did not recall any physical harm done. We learned to settle our differences and became friends again after a few minutes or hours . But we were at times visited by the neighborhood bullies who were armed with supla or blowgun made from very thin bamboo and hard seeds as bullets. We just tried to avoid them.
These are my recollections of the childhood games we enjoyed which are strange to the computer kids of today. But our kind of play contributed much in molding our character. They were crude, but through them, we gained lots of friends and enjoyed our childhood days together. We learned to forgive, to share, to plan, to think as a group. Our creativity was enhanced when we made the best of what was at hand and still found immeasurable pleasure. We simulated reality through our imaginative play. We were active boys and girls, hardly getting sick and were always moving, always looking for adventure. But in our playfulness we did not forget our responsibilities at home and at school.
The games we played are beautiful memories. I remember them and I become a child again.