Jo-ann Gimenez Grecia
College Secretary and Faculty, University of the East – Manila

Games in the Philippines are regarded as cultural heritage. Also referred to as laro ng lahi (play of the race), Filipinos recognize the value of Philippine games as a vital piece of their national identity. The inclusion of Philippine games in basic education (K–12) and Bachelor of Physical Education (BPEd) curriculum further recognizes the value of Philippine games not only as cultural heritage but also as an important form of physical activity for Filipino children and the rest of the nation.
As the Philippines addressed the need to shift to online learning due to COVID-19, the delivery of Philippine games as a subject in the BPEd curriculum, specifically Philippine traditional games and sports, also needed to shift online. For a subject that is usually delivered no other way but face-to-face, with games played in streets, vacant lots, and any other viable playing area, the shift to online learning posed significant challenges.
As online delivery of these games has never been done before, no template exists on how to transform and administer them online. There is not even a list or selection of Philippine games that can be delivered online. Experimentation and a trial-and-error approach were seen as the best way to address the question of how it could be done. Even if the games are successfully administered, their effectiveness cannot be guaranteed because there is almost no way of replicating the true feel of physically playing games with others in an online setup. Hence, the challenge is not only pedagogical in nature but also affective.
The present researcher teaches BPEd courses including Philippine traditional games and sports. Taking an action research approach, the researcher analyzed the needs of the subject and implemented strategies by selecting, transforming, and administering Philippine games online. The process was trial and error as it was the researcher’s first attempt at doing so during the first semester of academic year 2020–2021. The process was continued in the first semester of academic year 2021–2022, and will continue as needed.

Pedagogical Processes
Selecting, transforming, and administering Philippine games online does not only satisfy the course requirements of the BPEd program but also addresses the need to continuously safeguard Philippine games as ICH. At present, Philippine games have been documented in books, TV shows, websites, social media posts, blogs, stamps, and other forms and have been played in various contexts by different age groups. With the shift to online learning, children are restricted in terms of playing Philippine games outside their homes and physical education (PE) teachers might not know which games can be selected and how to deliver them online and administer them synchronously. Continuous efforts in documenting Philippine games are needed to safeguard them. Hence, online platforms can also serve to provide opportunities for children to play and aid PE teachers and other facilitators of Philippine games on how to do so. Such efforts can be helpful since digital tools such as video conferencing and recording can be utilized as additional appropriate measures in safeguarding ICH.
The synchronous setup of online classes dictates that Philippine games be played with the students during class time. Hence, careful selection of games that can be transformed and administered online rely on crucial considerations. These include students playing one-on-one, two-on-two, or in groups during synchronous sessions. This means that students playing with family members who are physically with them is not the default setup; however, such a setup can be utilized for games assigned asynchronously.
The feasibility of transforming or modifying the different elements underlying games to suit the online platform is also crucial. Key here is understanding how game elements can be modified. Game elements include objective, players, movement, and space, playing area, materials, or objects. Important in modifying game elements is the applicability of modifications to suit the online platform. Table 1 shows the considerations needed when selecting, transforming, and administering Philippine games online.

Starting spot of the coin in kuwarta sa noo © Jo-ann Gimenez Grecia

Considerations Pre-COVID-19 pandemic During COVID-19 pandemic
Delivery Face-to-face – physical Face-to-face – virtual
Set up Play as a class.
Teacher as teammate/opponent or facilitator.
Play can be done simultaneously – 1-on-1, 2-on-2, by group.
Play as a class.
Teacher as teammate/opponent or facilitator
Play can be done simultaneously – 1-on-1, 2-on-2, by group.
Play is with classmates during synchronous session.
Modifying games Modify game elements (objective, players, movement, and space, playing area, materials, or objects) Modify game elements to suit the platform.

Identifying characteristics of Philippine games and specific elements of the games that can be modified are crucial when trying to take them online. While certain game elements can be modified, there are many characteristics that are difficult, if not impossible, to transform or modify. Running, tagging, blocking, catching, and other elements present difficulties in modifying games. Hence, games such as patintero (block the enemy), habulan (tag), and many more are difficult to transform.
In transforming games, identifying elements from games in their pre-COVID-19 pandemic state is the preliminary step, followed by modifying these elements to suit the online platform. Not all game elements need modifying, but identifying which ones are needed is essential. Table 2 gives a sample of how the Philippine game hipuin ang kulay (touch the color) is transformed.
As shown in Table 2, the objective, players, movement, and playing area in the transformed version of hipuin ang kulay make the game suited for online administration. Because it is not possible for players to run and tag opponents during synchronous sessions, being the first to show the object bearing the color mentioned by the it (which can be the teacher) is the modification in the objective. The teacher can also group the students so that the game will be manageable where students in a group will play against one another. The movement of players and playing area are different since they can play the game even if they are seated and the area is not restricted.
Administering games means discussing necessary information, explaining game rules and mechanics, and facilitating gameplay. The process of administering games take time since this also includes letting the students trial the game first. Managing synchronous class time is crucial in administering games since explaining the rules and mechanics of games will take time. Time devoted to playing should also be ample since several rounds of play are recommended. Because the researcher has taught Philippine games pre-COVID-19 pandemic, administering transformed games was quick and concise. However, it was noticed that administering time could be improved so more time is devoted to actual play.

Starting position of fingers and coin for a game of pitikan ng barya © Jo-ann Gimenez Grecia

Considerations Pre-COVID-19 pandemic During COVID-19 pandemic
Objective Touch any object that bears the color mentioned by the it; avoid getting tagged by the it. Touch any object that bears the color mentioned by the it; be the first to do so (with object shown on cam).
Players 1 vs. all; no teams
It can be more than one
1 vs. all; no teams
Teachers will group students into manageable number of opponents per group before the game
Movement Players can move around the playing area Seated; players can leave their spot if gadget is stationary or mobile
Space, playing area, materials, or objects Open space; set boundaries
Clothes and accessories worn by players
No boundary;
Clothes, accessories, and other things near or accessible to players

Handling Philippine games in academic years 2020–2021 and 2021–2022, the researcher was able to transform and administer online seven Philippine games, including hipuin ang kulay, in the first year and eight in the second (Table 3). Games that were transformed in the first year were taught again in the second, with necessary improvements made in administering them.
The researcher taught Philippine games with two different sets of students during separate semesters. The students, who are BPEd majors, thought that activities would be assigned to them asynchronously, and that during synchronous sessions, lessons would focus only on the theoretical aspects of games, with no full-class play. However, the classes demonstrated to the students that online delivery of Philippines games is indeed possible.

Moving Forward
Continuous review of how games are transformed and administered is needed to improve the delivery of Philippine games online. More games should be selected so that a better diversity of games can be taught. Previous attempts to transform other games should be revisited, keeping in mind students’ previous experiences of playing Philippine games online.
As the researcher continues to review and revisit strategies and processes in teaching Philippine games online, these have been shared with other PE teachers and students via webinars conducted by professional PE organizations. The researcher

First semester of 2020–2021 First semester of 2021–2022
Bato, bato, pik/jak en poy
(Rock, paper, scissors)
Ilong, ilong, ilong (Nose, nose, nose)
Hipuin ang kulay
(Touch the color)
Bang! (Showing a set finger positions in rhythm and saying “bang!” when positions are the same)
Siklot (Resembles jacks but uses pebbles) Kalahoyo (Hitting stones)
Buwal pare
(Resembles pick-up sticks but uses matchsticks)
Tatsing (Touching)
Bulong pari (Whisper to the priest) Pitikan ng barya (Flicking of coins)
Pitik bulag (Flicking blind) Kuwarta sa noo (Money on the forehead)
Shagedi (Singalong where the leader’s actions are imitated by group members) Dampa
(A race with rubber bands using cupped hands slammed on the floor to produce air)
Maiba taya/maiba alis/ pong pyang*
(A way to divide players using either side of the hand)
Ninja-ninja (Hitting of opponent’s limbs)

was able to share these strategies and processes along with actual gameplay with the participants and organizers synchronously, just how Philippine games classes are done online. Recorded videos and screenshots of the classes were shared to show how these strategies and processes were executed in classes.
These digital tools from two full semesters of teaching Philippine traditional games and sports have been kept by the researcher for instructional, research, and safeguarding purposes. Educational strategies and processes like the ones used in teaching Philippine games online can be utilized as measures for safeguarding ICH. Stakeholders attempting to safeguard Philippine games via the use of such digital tools must understand that this is a continuous and trial-and-error process. Reviewing and revisiting strategies and processes are essential to continue safeguarding Philippine games as ICH.


1. S.-S. Carmack, “Technology connecting ICH motivations and safeguarding responsibilities,” Arts Management & Technology Laboratory, 25 February. Available at:
2. G. S. D. Morris and J. Stiehl, Changing Kids’ Games. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1989.