Despite having organized a series of events in the recent past, the members of the Foreign Workers Cooperative decided to launch the group officially by doing something original: they hosted a Filipino Heritage Games Day, or ‘Laro ng Lahi’ at the Hawthorne Park in Surrey, BC.
Each of the Coop’s five committees — Admin & IT; Finance; Programs, Policy & Research; Marketing and Promotions, and Membership & Education — pitched their tents in a semicircle, creating a sort of courtyard where the games were played by both adults and children, and by the looks of it, the older crowd seemed to have enjoyed the games just as much as the children did.
There were Sungka, Sipa, Chinese Garter, Luksong Tinik, Larong Bakya, Sack Race, and of course, the not-so-old but ohso-important Filipino favourites, the Hula Hoop and the Limbo Rock. These are all low-tech, interactive games that pre-dated today’s Playstations and Xboxes by decades.
Parents competed against kids in Hula Hoop, Chinese Garter, Limbo Rock, Sack Race and Luksong Tinik, but in the end, the little ones proved impossible to beat.
A few women gathered around to play an endless round of sungka, while someone explained the finer points of cheating in the game, and how to avoid ‘burning’ your own ‘houses’ in the heat of the competition. Sungka is a game played on a solid wooden block with two rows of seven circular holes (houses) and two large holes at both ends called ‘head’. The game begins with 49 game pieces, usually seashells, equally distributed to alternate holes – seven pieces in every other hole. Sungka requires two players. Each player controls the seven holes on his side of the board and owns the head to his right. The goal is to accumulate as many pieces in your own head.
Sipa is a game where you kick around a little ball made of tingga or washer – a thin round metal with a small hole at the middle used to secure roof nails. Placed in its hole are strands of
packaging straw, or colourful paper strips, which direct the sipa to fall with its flat-side first. The straws also help the motion of the washer while still in mid-air. This type of sipa is often played by children and the aim is to keep the ball in the air for as long as a player can. The Coop sipa game didn’t attract many players.
A competitive bunch of people, the different Coop Committees even have their own little contest, The Best Decorated Tent Competition. Despite much heckling among the competing committees, the true winners were eventually picked by Bullet Javonillo Buenaventura and Junah Bahena of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Vancouver.