La la li la tam pong
Ah Pek bay apom (Old man/uncle sells pancake)
Apom tim lok hai (Pancake is thrown into the sea)
Ah Pek jiak kau sai (Old man/uncle eats dog poo)
There were a few childhood games that I used to play with the neighbourhood kids and schoolmates during primary school. Those that I remember well were hide and seek, the Asian version of hopscotch and one-legged catch. To select one out of many in any of those games we would stand in a circle and went “la la li la tam pong” while turning the palm up and down following the rhythm of the verse. At the end of each line, we would show our hands, either with the palm facing up or down. The loser will be the only one showing the odd hand. For example, if there are four people, and three show the palm facing up while one shows the palm facing down he loses. If there is more than one with the same show of hands, the selection process continues. The verses are in Penang Hokkien and every kid during those times knew it by heart. I have no inkling who composed this meaningless and perverted verses but kids being kids, we just used it in our games without much thought about its origins or meanings.