Do not get me wrong; I am entirely impressed with how tech-savvy the kids are these days. I see Filipino children as young as eleven coding their app or creating social movement on Tiktok, and it leaves me dumbfounded and amazed. But when I see the younger generations spending almost all their time either on their phones or their computers, I can’t help but feel like they’re missing out on many childhood memories that I treasure to this day.
I know nothing makes someone sound like a stodgy older man more than telling kids about the good old days, but the good old days are just tough to beat when it comes to Filipino childhood memories.
Back in the day, it was common for all the kids in the neighborhood to know each other and play together, especially in the provinces. We played together, rode our bikes together, and grew up as best friends, forging lasting and genuine bonds. That is a far cry from just chatting with someone online.
That is why the best Filipino childhood memories are always the ones you have in the provinces, if I may say so myself. The Philippines’ probinsya life is all about being a tight-knit community where everyone knew everyone else and where it was safe for kids to play outdoors until the sun went down.
To prove my point, here are my 12 best Filipino childhood memories:
- Hide and seek during a “brown out.”
What do kids do these days when there is a power outage or a “brown out”?
I heard a joke once that the best way to bond with your family is to turn off the wi-fi and wait for everyone to come out of their rooms. As funny as that sounds, most families indeed spend their time logged into the internet these days.
Before the internet became commonplace, a “brown out” for us, kids usually meant one thing – it was time for a game of hiding and sought! With everyone waiting for the power to come back on, even the older kids, the Ates and Kuyas, would join the game, creating some of the best memories that I have with my siblings.
No internet? No problem. All we needed was a concrete road, and we could play the crazy game of patintero.
The rules are simple, just run from one end of the road to the other without letting the people guard each line and the road tag you. Does that sound easy? It is not, but it is a lot of fun.
Strategies, speed, and mayhem all come into play. Also, watch out for passing cars!
- Walking to school
It sounds funny to say that walking to and from school is one of my best Filipino childhood memories, but it is true. The simple act of walking with a brother or sister or friend makes for some great bonding moments.
Also, let us not forget the snack vendors along the way. There are Banana cues for one peso, chichirya for two pesos, and an enormous ice cream scoop for five pesos. But my favorite snack was always the hot pancake covered in margarine and sugar. Yum!
- Marbles and trumpo or Kuti
These days we collect mechanical keyboards, RGB gaming mice, the latest Bluetooth headsets.
When I was a kid, we were collecting too, but it was all about the tex cards, trumpo or tops, and marbles. I particularly remember my wooden trumpo with a nail that I sanded and sanded until it was needle-sharp, making it spin faster than any other trumpo in the neighborhood. The pin was so sharp, and the trumpo turned so well that I could spin it right on top of a piece of rope!
- Climbing up the tree for mangoes or star apple or alateris
By far, one of the best Filipino childhood memories I had was climbing up our neighbor’s fruit trees and stealing mangoes, star apples, and the small Filipino cherries we call alateris. The sheer carnal pleasure of biting into a perfectly ripe mango has absolutely no comparison.
Also, there was the added thrill of “stealing” the fruits. But looking back, I realize my neighbors knew precisely who was taking their mangoes and were indulging the neighborhood kids.
- Shower under the rain
When was a kid, heavy rainfall in the middle of the day can only mean one thing – it was time to shower under the rain!
It is crazy to think that running under the pouring rain would be unthinkable for most kids these days. But during my time, all the neighborhood children would run out to greet the downpour together, and no one took pictures for Instagram. It was a blast!
- Bazooka chewing gum
How much does gum cost these days? Before, bazookachewing gum was the gum that all the cool kids were chewing. For a whopping fifty centavos, you could have some gum and a small mini-comic book inside the wrapping paper too!
- Langit-lupa Chasing Game
Every culture has its version of chasing games, and it always makes for good times. For Filipinos, the best chasing games will always be langit-lupa.
Langit-lupa directly translates to heaven for Langit and the ground for Lupa. The rules are easy – you must climb onto something, a desk or table or chair, and that will be your langit where you are safe from being tagged.
When the person who is “it” shouts Lupa, everyone must run and find a different langit to climb onto, and chaos ensues, giving him a chance to tag someone. It provides a whole different spin on the usual chasing games and makes some incredible Filipino childhood memories.
- Bahay-bahayan or balay-balay
In the Filipino language, bahay means house, and bahay-bahayan means playing house. The parts with playing house for me was building the house itself, with some of my mother’s old blankets and some chairs.
Another great thing about playing bahay-bahayan? If you are playing the role of parent, you get to boss your “children” around.
- Building and Flying a Kite
Indeed, one of the best Filipino childhood memories that I had was when my papa taught me how to build a kite from old sticks and plastic bags. A builder by nature, he was able to take those random pieces of wood and plastic and turn it into an elegant kite that my brother and I played with for weeks. At the time, that kite was my most prized possession and is also one of my father’s fondest memories.
- Swinging on the trees
Ask any kid who grew in the Philippines, and they will tell you that one of their best Filipino memories was trying to build a tree house with their cousins at one point or another. But instead of making anything resembling a treehouse, they likely ended up with a harness crisscrossing ropes that they would swing from. Such were the delights of growing up in the provinces.
- Swimming in the river
What is one of the fondest Filipino childhood memories that most Pinoys have? It is jumping into the clear waters of the batis or the river on a hot summer day. There is nothing like floating in an ice-cold stream and running home completely soaked just in time for merienda or afternoon snacks.
Here is an insider tip to swimming in the river – banana tree trunks float! Ditch the float tubes; banana tree trunks are the way to go.
Looking back on my favorite Filipino childhood memories, I would hate to have my kids miss out on any single one of them. That is why I have the full intention of taking them to the province where I grew up and introduced them to the joys of the probinsya life. I am sure all that it would take are some backyard barbecues, a few new friends, and a couple of bikes to lure them into making their own cherished Filipino childhood memories for themselves.
For a similar content of this type, please listen to Barok and Takya Bisaya Podcast Episode: Remembering Childhood Memories or download your favorite podcasts apps like Podbean, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify to hear this episode. You could also see Barok and Takya Youtube Channel BISAYA PODCAST for more of their content. Daghan Salamat Bayan!