100 Ideas 2013: Patintero

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43. Recall your favorite childhood game.

I grew up in the Philippines where I was sometimes allowed to play out in the streets with the kids from the neighborhood, but most of my “play time” was spent before and after school in an all-girls Catholic school.  We had what we called a “Social Hall” which was one whole wing of the four-sided building which was meant to be an assembly hall for the students by grade level.

It was a long hall although with low ceilings, with an elevated platform on one end where the nuns used to address us.  In the mornings before school started, the length of the hall was empty with the seats stacked neatly on the far side.

It was perfect for a game called Patintero where the players were divided into two groups.  The team, usually a group of 4 girls each, were assigned “levels” to guard or defend, with one player allowed to go parallel and cross the levels but only in the center.  This was always the first player defending the first line.

The point for the “offensive” team was to cross to the back and then return to the front without being touched or tagged by the team defending the “lines”.

At the start, everyone in the offensive splits themselves between the left and right sides, considering the first level defender can only defend a side at a time.  The strategy was for the second level defender to stop anyone who went through and so on and so forth.  If any member of the defending team touches you as you cross but not after you have crossed, you were called “out” of the game.  Depending on how good the strategy of the team is, most teams would “distribute” themselves over the various levels and allow one to go back and score a point.

You could only move forward or sideways but never back to a level you had passed.  The teams switched when the offensive team gets all tagged out, or the last untagged player makes it back to “home base”.

We enjoyed playing this game every morning before the flag ceremony, much to the chagrin of our teachers and the nuns.  As it involved a lot of running, we ended up all dishevelled even before the school day had begun for us, and it was deemed too boyish a game, unfit for young ladies as we were being molded to be.

But it was a lot of fun, and it made for many sweaty but fun mornings before we tackled the serious business of school.  I miss those days and look back to them with very fond memories. 


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