smell like the sun

My brother-in-law called last weekend to ask us about portable video games for his son's upcoming birthday. Since my nephew-in-law is turning 10, he gets to choose between a PSP (Playstion Portable) & a Nintendo DS. And since my nephew-in-law has a 6 year old brother, he also gets either a Nintendo DS or Nintendogs (for the dog lovers). We strongly advised Nintendo for Nintendo's platform is truly geared for the kids. I couldn't really remember what I used to get for my birthdays but it's sure nothing like the toys of today. Sunny smiles of the kids at Villa Escudero.

Like the evolution of our society, toys have advanced to the greatest imagination & creativity ever. Scientific researches resulting to absolutely educational gadgets, employing different skills necessary for learning. Some toys are so complex that even an adult is required to concentrate & understand first before playing & having fun. There are so many toys to choose from. From the cuddly stuffed toys, the colorful blocks, the singing books, the puzzles & lego type constructions (which I am so bad at) to video games. It sure is fun while learning.

But for my generation, I preferred to be on the street than playing with my classic & standard toys which solely required my own creativity. I remember my mom shouting behind me to be careful & to come home on time for lunch or dinner, and to be as clean as I can be. In my childhood, learning was more about the joys of picking up recreational materials in the park & playing fair with my friends. Learning was about getting dirty & having little bruises.

Street games are as educational as the toys of today & it builds character:
- taguan (hide & seek) taught us agility & the motion of time. Without them, we'll still be hiding while everybody has already gone home.
- patintero taught us teamwork, strategy & the art of bluffing.
- shato taught us focus & concentration, coordination & math, and determination to chant shato continuously for the whole loser's run.
- tumbang preso taught us speed, coordination & sportsmanship, especially to the "it."
- agawan base likewise taught us agility, teamwork, strategy & competitiveness.

Street games also build camaraderie & teaches us to be a good loser. It only requires trees (or lamp posts), rocks, sticks & cans to almost no materials at all. We get a lot of exercise & sun. My mom used to freak out & send the maid in a thorough hunt to find me but it taught me basic responsibility. Me & a friend went on a search for the perfect grass sled, found a dilapidated plywood & sled down a 10 meter slope down to a main road. We were saved from crashing a car but we didn't get away from the old woman sceaming at us for all the dust we brought to her house just in front. We had freedom.

We didn't have high-tech, state of the art toys. We didn't have 15 channels of cartoons & kid's shows but only Sesame Street, The Electric Company & the Saturday Fun Machine on channel 9. As classic & as standard our toys are, they encouraged imagination, creativity & inventiveness. Look how we all turned out. I loved smelling like the sun.


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. Life was so simple then ano? We didn't need any expensive toy to amuse ourselves. Just think, all we needed was the ground where to draw the piko (hopscotch)lines and the choicest (flat & smooth) pebble we can find and of course, a friend to play with. Nakaka-miss minsan.

    We call siato Hatum in the waray dialect. I believe the game also teaches the virtue of humility. o,di ba pag talo ka, you have to run and shout hatummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm like a crazed person. Di ba,that's humility personified?

  2. I remember the one time my mom got mad at all of us and kept all our toys in a baul, so we were forced to play with stones and lupa for one week. Life was simpler back then talaga. It was nice leaving the house with powder all over our faces (after taking a shower) and then coming home dirty from a day of playing Langit Lupa.

  3. I agree with you Makis. I regret the possibility that Filipino kids will no longer play those games in the future. Those childhood games were indeed an integral part of our physical, social and emotional development. So much better than these high-tech toys, in my opinion.

  4. I am a fan of those street games, it made me develop sportsmanship teamwork and camaraderie! I used to be PIKON kasi. I would rather have the smell of the sun, staying out all day playing and enjoying good times with good company rather than staying in front of a video games! There's no more interaction between people but just merely playing with a machine co'z one can play alone di ba!

    You have said almost everything Makis but please include PIKO, luksong baka at syempre bahay-bahayan ;) !

  5. So true, Gina! I was so embarassed when I had to shour shato around our block!

    Grabe, Kala, I remember the polbos & the bimpo days! Can you imagine, we were playing outside even if it's so warm outside?!

    Hi Rose! I saw some of the high-tech toys of my nephews-in-law & it sure does stimulate the brains but as simple as our street games are, it's an all-in-one learning method :)

    I was also pikon before, Haze! BUt of course I get crazy when all my friends pass by the house, calling my name & my mom won't allow me :) Video games are really developing & there's as much interaction between people with online gaming. Yun nga lang, it's only the fingers that get exercise :D

  6. just a few weeks ago I taught my daughters-
    "Land, Water, Air, Twinkle, Heaven"
    and "Mother May I?"
    Remember those games?
    My kids love it--but what they love even more is the fact that I play it with them.

  7. laro ko lahat yan nong high school ako, year 1980's, and lagi ako taya, huhu!

    dito sa France, sina marghie and anjo, merong sports everyweek.
    Ask sila ng titser if ano hilig nilang sports.
    Sagot nila: Ma'm, Soduko


  8. Hey Makis! I'm determined to leave a trace, but still can't do it like everyone else. Anyways, thanks for visiting my site and for your encouragement!

  9. I really think you're such a cool mom, Chesca! Sympre when I went over your archives & reading that your kids call you "nanay" - so much more meaningful than mommy :)

    Naku, Francesca, mukhang mabagal ka ata at parati kang taya :) Ok yang Suduko, exercise for the brains.

    Lu, Lu, Lu! You did leave a trace finally! Keep up the great blog (although I think I was not really part of the motivation, no? :)!

  10. I was just talking to my hubby how we played bubbles made of gumamela leaves and flowers plus a little bit of soap and water with matching hand-made wires to make the bubbles with. Now, they come so cheaply in bottles with plastic bubbly thinghy.
    I miss shato..although i remember shouting to my lungs "shatong!"

  11. the zambal version naman of shato is 'shatong' and yes, i shouted shatong a lot during my younger years..

    when frenchguy and i talk about louna's childhood life, we both regret that we live in the city and louna won't be able to really feel the 'probinsyana' life..

  12. Yes, I remember the gumamela bubbles, Leah! And I also remember using a papaya leaf trunk or something like that :)

    Nice to see you back, Ana! I don't think that Dijon city is as bad as the city of Paris or Marseille naman diba?

  13. My favorite was agawan base. Love ko rin yung chinese garter. I wan't that fond of shiato, I liked tumba lata better :)