Similar to eenie meenie miny mo, Filipino children sometimes use the rhyme Pen, Pen de Sarapen to determine who will go first in a game in which participants take turns. Each syllable corresponds to one child, and whoever the last syllable lands on gets to go first or becomes the taya or "It" in games like Hide and Seek or Tag.
The rhyme is also a game in itself played between a pair of children or an adult and a child. One holds out his or her palm and sings the rhyme while the other repeatedly touches and removes the tip of his or her forefinger to and from the palm for each syllable. The singer leaves his or her palm open until he or she reaches the end of the song where it is time to close his hand and catch the other's finger. The person whose finger is caught can be deemed "It," which designates him or her as the one to hold out the palm for the next round.
The Tagalog rhyme goes:
Pen Pen di Sarapen, kutsilyo de almasen
"Pen Pen di Sarapen", knife (sword) from the bazaar
Hau hau de kalabaw, batuten!
How how the carabao stinks! (or farts!)
Saya kung pula, tatlong pera,
If the skirt is red, three pennies (coins);
Saya kung puti, tatlong salapi.
If the skirt is white, three monies;
Sipit namamalipit, gintong pilak
Claw that pinches, golden silver
Namumulaklak sa tabi ng dagat!
Flowering near the sea!
(At the second syllable of "da-gat" the open palm should close.)
While the rhyme may appear nonsensical, it was once used to mock Spanish authorities who threateningly used swords to enforce Christianity in Filipinos. Certain parts of the song may get the child excited and giggly. In the second line, The syllables of batuten, spoken quite separately and loudly, BA-TU-TEN, may mislead a child into thinking the other's hand will soon close. The gintong pilak in the second to last line can be viewed as a "prize" incentive unless the child enjoys getting caught.