How to play Tumbang Preso in Philippines: mechanics, picture, history

How to play Tumbang Preso in Philippines: mechanics, picture, history

Throughout Philippine's history, traditional games have always occupied special places in people's hearts. It goes, without saying that this is the reason why some of them, such as Tumbang Preso is still being played today.

How to play Tumbang Preso in Philippines
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Tumbang Preso is also known as Tumba lata, or otherwise Bato lata, and it has maintained its popularity over the years. The fabulous sport has been passed from generation to generation because of the fun and creativity derived from it.

What is Tumbang Preso?

Tumbang Preso is a unique traditional game in the Philippines that is favorite among Filipino children. The name of this sport is derived from the Filipino words Tumba, which means 'to fall' and preso, which means 'prisoner', translating to 'fallen prisoner'.

The game is played on backyards, streets, and open areas. It borrows elements from Tag and Dodge-ball to inculcate in those who play it strategic thinking and agility.

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Benefits of playing Tumbang Preso

Like any other outdoor games, Tumbang Preso has intellectual and physical health benefits. Some of the importance of playing this sport include the following.

  • It provides the opportunity to exercise without stress.
  • It enhances creativity and promotes better socialization among kids.
  • It can also help in building a connection between the children and their elders. This is so because these are the same games that were enjoyed by their parents and grandparents.

Tumbang Preso history

Even though Tumbag Preso is a native Filipino game, there is no known date as to when it came to be. Neither is the creator of the game known.

The children who found it fun would gather with whichever materials they had and start playing the sport. Its popularity has been passed from generation to generation, and until today it still commands significant attention from children and some adults across the globe.

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How to play Tumbang Preso
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If you are to play Tumbang Preso game, one requires an empty can, which serves as preso, a throwing object such as a slipper, and a circular barrier around the container, which can be drawn directly into the dirt, or using charcoal or chalk.

Tumbang Preso drawing

The game can only start when there are three or more, but less than nine players willing to play. Once the number is available, use chalk, charcoal, or directly into the dirt to mark a rectangular field. This field has to be or a ratio of 16:9.

You can use the dimensions of your choice in that ratio. Divide the field into four sections and then remove the center-line.

How to play Tumbang Preso

Tumbang Preso mechanics are somewhat similar to those of Duck on a Rock, a medieval children game commonly played across the globe. Below are some crucial concepts you need to know about the sport.

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Tumbang Preso mechanics
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Source: Original
  • The one to guard the tin can (preso) is called It, and he/she is chosen by all the players throwing the pamato to the toe-line. The one who throws the farthest from the toe-line becomes the It.
  • The other players will then get at the back of the toe-line, and the game starts at a signal from the It.
  • Immediately the milk can is knocked down, and the pamato is retrieved. The It then starts putting it up inside the circle, and the tagged player becomes the new It.
  • In any case, the can is hit and fall outside the drawn circle but remains to stand, then the It has all the rights to tag the hitter once he/she leaves the toe-line.
  • The can may be kicked or knocked down under when it is outside the circle.
  • Supposing a hitter is unable to retrieve his/her pamato, the other hitters can save him/her by hitting the can.

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The mechanism above has been commonly deployed when playing this particular game. However, there is a variation, which is equally exciting and fun.

It is played on sidewalks or narrow streets. The rules remain the same, except for a few observable alterations made.

What is Tumbang Preso
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In this version, you will discover the following changes.

  • The players draw two toe-lines on the opposite side of the circle. However, these lines are closer to the drawn circle.
  • The hitters available are divided between the two opposite sides.
  • The container is slightly flattened to make it harder to topple. This is achieved by barely hitting the sides of the can until it folds, then carefully stepping on it.
  • When the hitters run out of throwing objects, the game translates into a chase. Players on one side will act as bait while those on the other side will try to kick the can. They will all do this while trying to avoid being tagged.

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Tumbang Preso rules
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  • The game is temporarily stopped the moment the presso is toppled. All the pamato are then retrieved, and the next round of the sport begins.

Does the game have rules?

Tumbang Preso rules are some of the basic concepts you need to understand if you are to enjoy the game. Find below some of the rules you need to adhere to while playing the game.

  • Players must have slippers. The slippers serve as the throwing objects that will be used to precisely hit the can.
  • The It and the hitter must never cross over to each other's zones unless under the following conditions. If the It will tag a player without slipper and the player throws the slipper.
Tumbang Preso
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Source: Original
  • Every hitter must throw the slippers. If not, he or she will be the IT in the next round.
  • In case all the players miss the presso, and none of them is in the player zone with his or her slippers, the It will tick the presso three times.
  • The It will never tag a player if the can is knocked out.

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Despite the changes in technology that have seen the rapid growth of computer games, it is overwhelming and pleasant to see children playing local games. It helps us realize that even though time has passed, the native games such as Tumbang Preso are still cherished in our communities.

Tumbang Preso (knock down the prisoner), is, without a doubt, one of the most famous native games in the Philippines. Since time out of mind, the game has been enjoyed by the Filipino children as well as some adults. It has also gained popularity in other parts of the world.


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Vivian Melsa (SEO writer)