Dubai: Filipino expatriates recently gathered to rediscover the joys of their youth in an event that featured many of the forgotten traditional Filipino games.

Participants said the event at the Dubai Sports World in Dubai World Trade Centre was borne out of their desire to revive and preserve the vanishing games of their childhood, while providing a fun-filled activity for fellow overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the UAE.

“We want to highlight to our kids our games during my childhood, which are no longer played by my kids," says Joel Penafiel, a trade marketing manager who brought his family to the event. "I believe this is a very productive activity to enrich their experience."

Penafiel says the environment from which he grew up was very different from today's technology-dominated society, and this he believes has contributed to the decline of the once popular outdoor games that were played in his youth.

“At home what we usually do is play the tumbang preso and if we go to the park we try to play patintero,” says Penafiel.

Tumbang preso, patintero as well as tiyadang/karang-karang, luksong baka, luksong lubid, luksong tinik and sungka were among the games featured during the activity at Dubai Sports World, which gathered hundreds of participants young and old, highlighting the continued interest of many Filipinos in indigenous games. 

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“With these activities we can communicate with our kabayans (compatriots) and maybe somehow we can share our experience, we can share our childhood and impart it to our children," said Penafiel. "It is also about preserving our culture.”

Rhea Jessica Mura, an architect, says playing the games is like rediscovering a lost art and talent.

“I joined because I want to meet friends and mingle with my Filipino brothers and sisters," says Mura. "Nowadays people have almost forgotten these games. We've forgotten the techniques or how to play them. It’s also good to introduce these games to our kids, to the young millennials, and show them that palarong Pinoy still exists."

She adds: “I played sungka at the event because I used to play it when I was a kid a long time ago. I tried it to check if I still know how to play it.”

However, while gadgets and social media have largely become the playground of many of today's youth, there are those who appreciate the joys of playing these games.

Rei Kassandra Co, a 12-year-old student who grew up in Dubai, says she learned about traditional Filipino games from friends in the Philippines and now she has been playing games like patintero and Chinese garter at home and at school. 

“I’ve played it since I was in grade one. After school I would play traditional Filipino games – patintero, Chinese garter," says Co. "I learned them from my friends who were raised in the Philippines and have moved here in Dubai." 

Co says the mostly outdoors games help her get fit and is also a great way to socialise.

“Playing only computer games can make you anti-social," she says. "But when you play these traditional Filipino games, you can gain friends.”