Classic Filipino Toys That Will Give You Nostalgia

Classic Filipino Toys

Yes, Nintendo Switch is great, but have you heard of teks? Playing Clash of Clans might be a good pastime, but have you tried playing with paper dolls? How about sungka?

The digital era gave birth to games that place kids in a battle that requires intelligence, albeit way less interactive. Before the 2000s rolled in the toys kids played with were way different—but made childhood twice as fun.

In the Philippines, we had our fair share of these toys. Here are some of them.

Classic Filipino Toys We All Loved

From yo-yo to paper dolls, get to know five classic Filipino toys we all played with, loved, and treasured.

1. Sungka board

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Sungka Board

Count and capture games have been a part of the tradition of most countries in Africa, Middle East, the Caribbean area, and Asia. So it does not come as a surprise that the game has made its presence known in the Philippines. Since it was introduced to the Filipinos, the game has been given a different name and has been played constantly until today.

Sungka, as it is called locally, is one of the older games that every Pinoy has played at least once. What you need to play the game is simple: a friend to go on it with. You sit facing each other, grab a sungka board, pick up cowrie shells, and give the game a go.

The rules itself aren’t too hard to follow. The sungka board, which has gradually become one of the classic Filipino toys, has a total of fourteen cups, seven for each player. Six of the cups will hold the shells (stones or seeds make good alternatives), and the last one will be their home bases. Going in a counterclockwise direction, the player just has to distribute the stones around, and the one with the most number of shells in the home base wins the game.

When not used in sungka, the popular sungka board is used by many for fortune telling. Although, just like any other form of future forecasting, it does not give the most accurate of results, some still use the board to answer questions most commonly about marriage.

2. Plastic balloon

Plastic Balloon

It smells like paint thinner, but that was never enough reason for kids to stop playing with this toy. Plus, plastic balloons are also way cheaper than its bigger counterpart but are just as fun to use.

It’s sold in the form of small tubes that kids squeeze until a portion of the resin-like substance is out. You grab a short and thin straw, place the substance at the tip, then start blowing air.

3. Teks


Probably one of the oldest on the list, teks goes way back to the late 1930s. Teks is a game that uses trading cards, which, by the way, are also called teks, that are smaller than the regular playing cards. The prints on the card vary, although most of them now are inspired by movies and TV shows.

Card Games

Each card is numbered, following the sequence of the events in the story it is based off. In the game, players flip the teks in the air and bet on which side will come up.

4. Paper dolls

Paper Dolls

One of the classic Filipino toys for those who spent most of their childhood indoors, paper dolls are the young storytellers’ favorite. Most kids—who were born artists—would make their own paper dolls, design their own clothes, and build houses out of anything at home. Then they would start coming up with dialogues, speaking like voice-over actors for their dolls, as if they were in some big-budget film.

While paper dolls have a Pinoy ring in it, considering how much we love playing the role-playing game bahay-bahayan, these toys were actually first heard of in 1810. It was when the London toy novelty firm S. & J. Fuller released paper doll named Little Fanny. The art of making these dolls was picked up by our ancestors who created a more Filipino-like version.

The first real Pinoy paper doll was nicknamed “Rosing.” Rosing would appear in one of the earliest editions of Liwayway magazine. Kids would then cut drawings of Rosing out of the magazine as well as other items like clothes and food that came with her.

5. Yo-yo


Now if you haven’t heard of yo-yo, what have you even been doing this whole time? Yo-yo is not only one of the most treasured classic Filipino toys, it’s also one of the most popular in the world. Yo-yo, it’s worth noting, did not essentially originate in the Philippines.

Originally made out of wood, metal, or clay, yo-yos were first used during the 440 BC. This is evidenct in an old Greek vase painting that depicts a boy playing with the toy. It was known as the bandalore then. The name yo-yo, many believe, is derived from the northern Philippine Ilocano word yo’yo.

The toy did not reach masses until Filipino Pedro Flores started his own yo-yo company. The success of Flores’s business brought yo-yo to the mainstream. Although considered one of the classic Filipino toys because of its long history, yo-yo- remains one of the most-played toys today.

Watch the video below

please check out part 2


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