Tumbang Preso - An Iconic and Beloved Filipino Children's Game | A Look Back at a "Laro ng Lahi"

Tumbang preso which directly translates to "knock down the prisoner" is a traditional Filipino children's game or a "laro ng lahi". Tumbang preso is also known as "Presohan" ("prison") or "tumba lata" ("knock down the can") in Luzon, and Tumba-Patis or "Tumba-Lata" ("Hit The Can") in most Visayan regions. Tumbang preso is a game enjoyed in groups and in the streets. A game truly for the Filipino mass before modern technology has glued the eyes of the Filipino youth on their mobbile devices. Let us take a look back at this beloved iconic traditional Filipino children's game called "Tumbang preso" here at Retro Pilipinas.

maestroabayan.com tumbang preso artwork - Retro Pilipinas Feature

Original Source: Tumbang Preso by Maestro Abayan


Tumbang Preso Game Mechanics
Tumbang Preso Traditional Filipino Children's Game

Tumbang preso is usually played in the streets, parks, or backyards (preferably in a cemented grounds) consisting of many children (some articles said that it should not exceed more than nine but who are we to tell how many should play it). An empty can (or bottle if not available) is required to play tumbang preso as this is an integral part of the game as the kids main goal is to hit this can with their slippers which is also known as a "pamato".



Original Source: Tropang Bagong Sibol: Tumbang Preso Mechanics

The set up is at the start of the game, kids will throw their pamatos and the one whose pamato is the farthest from either the toe-line or the empty can will be the "it". On one end, there are kids with their "pamato" on the "toe-line" where they are given the chance to knock the can from its safe zone or "prison", and on the opposite end, there is that one "unfortunate" kid who is "it" guarding the empty can inside its prison (usually a circle protecting the can). Once the game starts, everyone can take a shot (one at a time or altogether) to knock off the can from its prison at the back of the toe-line. The other kids must immediately retrieve their "pamato" to return to the toe-line to be "safe" as soon as tthe can gets knock off from the prison. The "it" will then return the can and ran after anyone not inside the toe-line or safe zone (usually those retrieving their "pamato") to tag them to be the next "it".

Resource: Wikipedia


A Look Back at Tumbang Preso
Tumbang Preso Memories

Tumbang Preso Art by Cabby - Retro Pilipinas Feature

Original Source: Tumbang Preso - Art of Cabby




While I don't have any particular memory of playing tumbang preso as a child as I was more into a "Patintero", "Langit Lupa", Sawsaw-Suka, and "Siato" other Laro ng Lahi, which I will also cover soon here at Retro Pilipinas (watch out for them); I still find it pretty fun seeing those who play it then and now here at our barangay.

Galeria Bañez Tumbang Preso - A Retro Pilipinas Feature

Original Source: Tumbang Preso by Galeria Bañez


Many kids still are playing this laro ng lahi, well at least those who don't have those fancy mobile device which is consuming kids more nowadays. It is cheap and all you need is an empty can, one slipper, and fun friends to play with. Even back in my grade school days we haven't fully played this game which is a bit shameful, but hey I did manage to try out other traditional Filipino children's game ("laro ng lahi") so can't really complain much. I simply look fondly at how some kids are enjoying it now that I am an adult, or be irritated as the kids are a noisy bunch along with the empty can being knocked off everywhere.

What about you guys? What's your fondest memory of tumbang preso? What variation or special mechanics did you remember playing with tumbang preso? If you didn't played it back then, what do you think about it back then and now? Share your thoughts and experience with tumbang preso on the comments section below:

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Disclaimer: Images are a property of their respective copyright owners and this blog is simply a look back at the iconic traditional Filipino game. I've included the links and cited the original resources so the audience here at Retro Pilipinas can check them out to either appreciate them more or collect/avail/purchase them when needed be. Feel free to contact us if you don't want us featuring your related artwork and articles and we'll be removing them immediately.
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