Tuesday, March 06, 2007


What was your favorite game to play at recess in grade school?
Submitted by Elisheva Chana.
Now as many people know I'm not really a very sporty person, but there was one sport I always loved to play even if it meant scraped skin, twisted joints, dizziness, and tons of sweat.

It was patintero.

As far as I know, it's a uniquely Filipino game. The playing ground has to have a series of solid lines, either drawn or built-in (in our case, we played this at the school driveway). There are two teams, composed of at least two players each. One team is the "it" or "taya", and this team has to guard the lines on the playing ground as hurdles. The other team has to outwit and outplay the taya, avoiding their every move as they go through each area, and then return to their starting position. If one of their members is touched by the hand of one of the opposing team members, the entire team becomes the taya and they switch places with the former taya. (I'm sorry if it sounds complicated. I'm translating the mechanics in my head as I go along, and it's not as easy as I thought it would be.)

It was in my generation that we introduced new innovations to the game. We grew crafty and created all sorts of schemes to ensure that we would effectively catch the other team and extend the entire playtime. The biggest change was the installation of the patotot, who would guard the lines perpendicular to his or her playmate's line-areas. In time virtually every single line in the driveway was used as more and more of my schoolmates (and by this I am including members of the kindergarten AND high school levels) joined in the fun. It came to the point that the school authorities decided to close a section of the driveway during recess and lunchtime, and then re-open it during dismissal time; it's been that way ever since.

I loved playing it, even if I was often caught (to be fair, I was pretty good at catching the other girls). It was one of the few games that allowed you to get away with being cheeky in all good fun. It also actually encouraged me to keep running for fun and fitness, since prior to that I was pretty much anti-exercise because of my weak system.

It makes me a bit sad though that right now, most of the girls in my alma mater would rather play football (soccer) or dance as cheerleaders. There's nothing like the excitement and camaraderie that only patintero can bring.

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