The Missing Top
The top (trumpo in Filipino), or spinning top as it is commonly called, has been missing for sometime.
I have not seen one—not since I heard Rev. Joe Mauk deliver a sermon on salvation years ago. While speaking, he played with over a dozen kinds of tops (big ones, small ones, rough ones, purple ones, imperfect ones, extraordinary ones) to drive home scriptural truths. And grace spun its way to the audience as we watched in rapt attention.
Growing up in the province, my friends and I loved playing with tops, aside from the other Pinoy toy that has gone missing, too (yoyo), and other games (patintero, palosebo, tumbang preso, piko, luksong tinik) that are totally strange or crude to urban kids today.
To those unfamiliar with the top, it is a simple toy that can spin on an axis, balancing on a point. It is probably one of the oldest recognizable toys discovered in archaeological sites all over the world.
In the places where I frequent today, kids are preoccupied playing video games, texting, surfing the Net, watching TV, listening to music with little gadgets stuck to their ears, or playing with toys bought from stores.
The tops of my youth were chiseled by hand and resemble this:
It took my balikbayan cousin M, who also grew up playing with tops, to point out to me: “Look, look!” she exclaimed while we drove through. “The kids are playing with tops!”
Sure enough, a group of kids were gleefully spinning their tops on a narrow alley in a depressed neighborhood. And they seemed to be having a great time!
“I saw other kids near your village playing with tops, too,” she added.
And I thought the top was gone forever! I have been pining for the good old days when children played with other kids and did things together. I have not been looking hard enough.
Is the top making a comeback? Or do some kids play with it today because they couldn't afford to buy expensive techno-doodads? Or has it gone missing at all?
Whatever it is, I am excited to see kids enjoying tops as I did. I hope it is here to stay. We can't afford to have a world of techie kids not ever experiencing the warmth of human encounters.