Ethnic Games Palooza Part 3: “Tumba Lata”

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After a “short break” in the palooza, we continue, this time with a game known here as “tumba lata” or falling can in english. It’s one of those games you see kids playing outside. It’s very common here, because the items used are everywhere, 2 simple things, a slipper, and a can.

The first thing you do when playing the tumba lata is choose someone to be “it”, personally I like thr rock, paper, scissors way. After choosing the “it”, all the other players go to  a line about 2 meters away from the can, this is where they throw their slippers to the can in order to hit it, hence the name, falling can. If the slipper does not hit the can, you have 2 options, wait for someone to hit the can, or try to out-run the person guarding the can. If you touch your slipper, then the “it” can tag you, then you become “it”, if you don’t touch it, you have to wait for someone else to hit the can. If the can is hit, the “it” has to get it and let it stand before going after the people who run with their slippers. If the can is hit, but is still standing, the “it” and the player who hit the can run to the can, and try to touch or “save the can before the other. If the “it” touches the can first, the player that hit the can is now the “it”, and if the player touches the can first, the game goes on.

Tagalog Buddy

Now for some of my experiences with tumba lata, first of I started playing when I was young, since it was a popular game back then, when not many people used computers, we used to gather with some other kids and begin playing. Since it does involve running, it wasn’t uncommon that someone would fall and get some scrapes and bruises. As time went on, we would still play it, but not that often, especially once we moved to Davao, but we would still play it, especially when we would have brownouts, or get bored, or mostly when our cousins come to visit, or naturally when we ate something that was in a can.

Tumba lata has been a seriously fun game,   they should really have a tournament, or just a game on the Kinect, don’t know if you heard about it, it’s a motion sensing controller for the Xbox 360, so you are the controller. But in the mean time, at least we can get a lot of exercise from it, and it’s one of those games that could last forever, or at least until someone gets a scrape, because the goal is repeated again and again. In my opinion, it’s the best game here in the Philippines, until you become “it”, which is when you would hate the game so much, but at least sooner or later you will be on the other end of the field, but that’s not the only great thing about it, you can play anywhere, as long as you have slippers, and a can.

AJ Martin

Aaron Martin, also called "AJ," is the son of Bob & Feyma Martin. Aaron is a graduate at Ateneo de Davao University High School in Davao City, Philippines. Aaron was born in the USA, but has lived in the Philippines since age 3.

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AJ MartinPapa DuckRicardo SumilangJohn MieleEstee Ang Recent comment authors
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Hi I AJ – The game reminds me of my youth. He he. We called “Tumbang Preso” or falling prisoner. Same concept.. hit the can with the slippers.. but you need get back as many slippers w/o being caught by the “guard”. We used to play this game outside a lot! Fun! Another one is touch base or what is known as local football – you have to kick the ball as far as you can then run around the 4 bases (just a circle mark by chalk) before ball hits you. Fun!

Estee Ang
Estee Ang

Also, it reminds me when i was young and that was too long ago. We played especially on a saturday afternoon and forgot about the nap time. Children played for several hours until we got tired and then after that, we will picked up and ate fruits. And by the way, not a single obese kid or children in the neighborhood…..

Ricardo Sumilang
Ricardo Sumilang

Nap time? Not in my barrio Salaza of my youth. From the Spanish period up to the time of my youthful days in barrio Salaza (Palauig, Zambales), children from the barrios throughout the Philippine, were usually not allowed to play before three in the afternoon so as not to disturb their parents taking their siestas, or they would be required to take a nap themselves. It was also because of the scorching heat of the sun. Parents in my barrio did not want their kids roaming the hot, dusty roads at midday lest they turn darker than they already were… Read more »

Papa Duck
Papa Duck


Looks like you had a fun childhood and looks like you remember everything from it. It’s good that you can recall so much of your past and remember all the good times. You really had to be resourseful to come up with alot of fun games. But thats a typical filipino. Take care.

John Miele
John Miele


The kids in our compound play this frequently, though I never knew what it was called. What is kind of nice is that when they play, kids from a whole range of ages are playing together (They even let Juanito in on the fun, and sometimes even the teenagers are playing).

However, I think that basketball is perhaps more popular…


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