Culture & Heritage

Filipino Traditional Games (Laro ng Lahi) You Should Know About

Written by Patrick

Laro ng Lahi or Filipino traditional games are a part of the country’s cultural heritage, and it’s always fascinating to learn about lesser-known games that are cherished in the past.

“Pinoy Laro ng Lahi,” which translates to “Filipino Traditional Games” or “Filipino Indigenous Games” represents a treasure trove of cultural heritage that has been passed down through generations in the Philippines.  Many of these games have origins dating back to pre-colonial times, making them an integral part of the nation’s history.

Unfortunately, the emergence of modern games made possible by technology caused the gradual decline of the popularity of these traditional games.  Many children are no longer aware, moreso play these games.  But as part of the country’s history and culture, it is important to preserve these games to connect young Filipinos to their roots.

Apart from the most played traditional Filipino games we have previously listed, here are more Filipino traditional games you should know about.

1 | Sungka

Sungka, also known as “Congkak” in other Southeast Asian countries, is an ancient game of strategy and skill.  The objective of the game is to collect more shells or stones than the opponent.

Sungka is played by two people using a wooden board (called sungkaan) or sometimes carved into the sand.  The board consists of two rows of seven small pits or hollows, called bahay (houses) and two larger pits at either end of the board.  Each player controls one row of small pits while the bigger pits are where the captured shells/stones are stored.

At the start of the game, each of the 14 small houses is filled with seven shells/stones.  Players take turns picking up all the shells from one of their houses and distributing them one by one clockwise/counterclockwise (as long as the players move in the same direction) into the small houses and their own house at the end of the board.  If the last shell falls into the player’s own house, they get another turn.  If the last shell falls into an empty house on their side, and the opposite house contains shells, the player captures all the shells in the opponent’s house and their own last shell.  These captured shells are then placed in their own house.  The game continues until one player can no longer make a move or all the shells have been captured.  The player with the most shells in their hut wins.

2 | Kadang-kadang

A game of balance, concentration, and coordination, kadang-kadang is a laro ng lahi that involves the use of two bamboo stilts of equal length and with a foot-long tongue for the player’s feet.  The main objective of the game is to walk on stilts from the starting line to the finish line.  The player must avoid falling else they will be required to start over again.  The first player or team to reach the finish line wins the game.

3 | Sangkayaw

Also called sambunot, sangkayaw is a coconut shell race.  It involves the use of coconut shells with a string attached to it.  The coconut shell is placed under each foot and the string is placed between the big toe and the next toe.  The loose end of the string is being held by the hands.  The players then race to the finish line.  The first player or team wins the game.

4 | Palo-sebo

Usually played during town fiestas and festivals, palo-sebo involves a long and straight bamboo pole which is polished and greased to make it more challenging to ascend.  The objective of the game is for a player to climb the pole and reach the top where a small flag or small bag containing the prize is tied.

Players line up and take turns climbing the pole.  A player who keeps on sliding down and fails to reach the top is disqualified.

5 | Chinese Garter

A game played with a long garter stretched horizontally between two players’ legs. The goal is to perform a series of jumps over the garter as it is gradually adjusted from lowest to highest.

6 | Hatakang Lubid

Hatakang lubid, also called culliot, is a Filipino version of tug of war.  The objective of hatakang lubid is for one team to pull the opposing team across a designated line or marker.

To play hatakang lubid, you only need a long, sturdy rope, preferably made of natural materials like abaca or jute. The rope should be thick enough to withstand the tension created during the game. Typically, the rope is about 15 to 20 meters long.  The team that succeeds in pulling the opposing team across the centerline wins.

7 | Bati-cobra (Shatong)

Bati-cobra is a hitting and catching game using two bamboo sticks – the long one which is used as a bat and the shorter one as a ball.  A small hole in the ground serves as the base.

The game is played outdoors and must be played by at least two players.  To decide who will be the first batter/hitter at the beginning of the game, each player must strike the shorter stick placed on the base.  The player who strikes the smaller stick farthest from the base will be the first to hit.

Standing across the other players, the hitter tosses the short stick upwards with one hand and strikes it with the longer stick on the other hand.  The other player tries to catch the shorter stick.  The player who catches the stick will be the next batter.  If no one catches the shorter stick, the hitter will place the longer stick on the ground and any other player can pick up the shorter stick and attempt to hit the longer stick on the ground.  Whoever hits the longer stick will be the next hitter, otherwise the same hitter keeps playing.

These Laro ng Lahi have been cherished for their simplicity, promoting physical fitness, teamwork, and camaraderie among participants.  Efforts to promote these traditional games include school programs, competitions, and cultural events that feature Filipino traditional games to preserve the cultural heritage and promote a healthy and active lifestyle among Filipinos.

10 Most Played Traditional Filipino Games
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Traditional Pinoy Party Games

Cover photo source

Have YOU played one of these games?

About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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