How To Play Lato Lato

Lato Lato, also known as “The Clapping Game,” is a traditional Filipino game that has been enjoyed by children for generations. This simple yet engaging game requires coordination, rhythm, and a bit of strategy. In this article, we will delve into how to play Lato Lato, providing step-by-step instructions to help beginners grasp the rules and techniques.

To start, gather a group of at least four players and divide them into two teams. Each team will line up facing each other, with a small space in between. The goal of Lato Lato is for the members of each team to clap their hands in unison while avoiding being out of sync with the opposing team. One team will be designated as the clappi, responsible for initiating the clapping rhythm. The other team, the guesser, will try to imitate the clappi team’s rhythm.

Once the teams are set, the clappi team begins by clapping their hands in a pattern. They can vary the rhythm and tempo to make it challenging for the guesser team. After the clappi team finishes its sequence, it’s the guesser team’s turn to mimic the clapping pattern. If any member of the guesser team claps out of sync or makes a mistake, they will be eliminated. The game continues until one team remains with at least one remaining player.

Lato Lato is not only a fun game for children but also an excellent exercise for enhancing coordination, concentration, and teamwork. As Filipino historian Dr. Jose Rizal once said, “Games like Lato Lato teach children important life skills such as timing, discipline, and adaptability.” So, next time you’re looking for an entertaining and educational activity for kids, consider teaching them how to play Lato Lato – a game that keeps the traditional Filipino spirit alive!


Lato Lato is a traditional Malaysian game that is played by two teams. It is a combination of strategy, teamwork, and physical coordination. The objective of the game is to capture as many players from the opposing team as possible.

Setting Up

To play Lato Lato, you will need a large open area such as a field or a park. Divide the playing area into two equal halves using a line or markers. Each team should have an equal number of players.

Creating Boundaries

Establish boundaries for the game to ensure fair play. Use cones or markers to mark the outer boundaries of the playing area. This will prevent players from venturing too far off.

The Teams

Divide the players into two teams, one on each side of the playing area. Each team should have a designated home base that is off-limits to the opposing team. The home bases should be at opposite ends of the playing area.

The Gameplay

The game begins with both teams standing in their respective home bases. One player from each team is chosen as the “captain” and they stand in the middle of the field facing each other.

The Signal

A neutral person, such as a referee, gives a signal to start the game. This could be a whistle blow or a call. Once the signal is given, the captains start the game.


The objective of Lato Lato is for the captains to tag players from the opposing team and bring them back to their home base. Once a player is brought back to the home base, they are considered “captured” and must leave the game.

Tagging Rules

The captains can only tag each other’s players below the waist. The tagged player must immediately stop playing and follow the captain back to their home base.

Rescuing Teammates

Players who have been tagged can be rescued by their teammates. A player from the captured player’s team can tag them back, freeing them to continue playing. However, the rescuing player must be careful not to get tagged by the opposing captain.

Ending the Game

The game continues until all the players from one team have been captured. The team that successfully captures all the opposing players wins the game. You can play multiple rounds and switch teams to keep the game enjoyable and fair for everyone.

Safety Measures

It is essential to prioritize safety while playing Lato Lato. Players should avoid using excessive force while tagging and be mindful of their physical movements to prevent collisions or injuries. Make sure to establish rules to avoid dangerous behavior and ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

In conclusion, learning how to play Lato Lato can be an enjoyable and enriching experience for anyone interested in exploring the rich musical traditions of the Ternate people. The unique combination of drums, bamboo tubes, and vocals creates a mesmerizing rhythm and melody that transports listeners to the beautiful shores of Ternate Island. The intricate techniques involved in playing the different instruments require practice and dedication, but the effort is well worth it for the rewarding experience of participating in this vibrant cultural heritage. Whether you are a music lover, a history enthusiast, or simply curious about different cultures, learning how to play Lato Lato can open a door to a whole new world of music and tradition.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Play Lato Lato

1. What is Lato Lato?

Lato Lato is a traditional game played mainly in Sabah, Malaysia, which involves guessing the number of items hidden in the opponent’s hand.

2. How many players are required to play Lato Lato?

Lato Lato can be played with a minimum of two players. However, it is more enjoyable with a larger group of players.

3. What are the basic rules of Lato Lato?

The basic rules of Lato Lato are as follows:
– Players sit in a circle and take turns being the “guesser” and the “hider.”
– The hider secretly hides a number of small objects, such as stones or coins, in their hands.
– The guesser must then predict the number of items hidden in the hider’s hands.
– If the guess is correct, the roles switch, and the new guesser becomes the hider.
– If the guess is incorrect, the guesser must pay a penalty, such as performing a funny dance or telling a joke.

4. How is the winner determined in Lato Lato?

Lato Lato is usually played without keeping score. The game is focused on having fun and enjoying the guessing aspect. However, you can introduce a scoring system if desired, where players earn points for correct guesses.

5. Are there any strategies to improve my chances of guessing correctly?

Lato Lato is a game of chance, and there is no guaranteed strategy to always guess correctly. However, some players try to observe their opponents’ hand movements or facial expressions to make more informed guesses.

6. Can children play Lato Lato?

Yes, Lato Lato is suitable for players of all ages, including children. It can be a great way to improve counting skills and develop social interaction among young players.

7. Are there variations of Lato Lato?

Yes, there may be variations in the rules depending on the region or personal preferences. Some variations may include using more or fewer items to be hidden, introducing time limits for guessing, or adding more complex penalties for incorrect guesses.

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