“Well… yung patintero, it’s a street game. Compared to other games, parang unique siya, diba? Usually, sa streets talaga ‘yun ginagawa. Typically the kids go out into the streets after the time called the siesta… that’s really how it was for us back then, kung pinalaki ka sa Pilipinas. Pag uwi nila sa school, kakain sila, mag na-nap tapos maglalaro sila. Talagang maingay sa kalsada tuwing afternoon.
(Well, patintero, it’s a street game. Compared to other games, it’s unique, right? It’s usually played in the streets. Typically the kids go out into the streets after the time called the siesta… That’s really how it was for us back then, if you were raised in the Philippines. When they get home from school, they’ll eat, take a nap, then play. It truly is noisy in the streets in the afternoon.)
It’s not a seasonal game, they always play no matter the time of year. You can say it’s a team game, because all of the children are like… in layers. Gumagamit sila ng chalk sa street, and they assign who’s playing and those kids need to be able to go through the other layers of kids who are trying to tag them. Your teammate has to try to confuse the other team so that you both can get through. Nag tutulongan kayo na makarating yung grupo mo to the end of the barrier. (You help each other so that your group can make it to the end of the barrier.) Whoever gets tagged… becomes part of the layers of kids trying to tag everyone else.
I like the team aspect of it… These kinds of games are best for entire communities where everyone lives close together in rural areas. In places that are urbanized, the kids don’t really come out to play anymore. Games like these are ways to make friends. Kahit hindi kayo magkakilala, nagkakaroon kayo ng mga opportunity para maglaro… (Even though you don’t all know each other, you get an opportunity to play together).”
Background: The informant is describing a Filipino street game called “patintero,” where children form layers of kids who are “it” and the others try to bypass their barriers and avoid getting tagged together. She used to play this game growing up, and it is one of the most popular traditional Filipino games.
Context: This piece was told to me in person, at the dinner table. The game is only something I have heard of other kids such as the informant, playing. I was raised in an urbanized part of the Philippines, so I never really got the chance to participate.
Many of my cousins grew up playing these games in their neighborhoods where all of the community’s families lived close together. The nostalgia the informant had for the game is interesting, as they described the game as being more for communities that are rural and more collective-based. Such communities in the Philippines are called baranggays, and the informant grew up in one such community. These neighborhoods tend to have families living in very close quarters without much disposable income, which would seem like an undesirable way to live. However, the informant’s view on it was that it promoted an easy way for the town’s children to get to know each other in an authentic space, differentiating from the isolated nature in which children (like me) in urbanized areas tend to be isolated from their peers beyond school. The informant often describes life in a baranggay as simple and often difficult, but the small pockets of togetherness is what characterized their childhood.
For a film that centers around patintero, check this link!
Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo is a film that focuses on the protagonist’s desire to get better at the game.