Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pedro Flores: Yo-yo

I can still remember my first time to have a yo-yo. I was only 8 years old that time. (I once lived in a very rural town in Mindanao. So don't be surprised if I tell you I didn't know what yo-yo is that time.) My Grandfather brought me to a river we called Suba. It was his everyday routine to visit our small house (a hut) nearby the river and took his fish baits he put the other day to gather the fishes and crustaceans trapped inside. I was playing on a river shore when I notice a round-shaped colored-green thing floating. i didn't know what it was and it has no string connected on it. I took it by curiousity, and showed it to my Lolo. (Till now, I still have this kind of attitude of picking thrashes with interesting look.) Then, he told me what it was. The next day, he gave it to me with a white string attached to it. I was amazed when he demonstrated how to use it, and then he taught me how to do it.

There was this Japanese anime about a kid who is a prodigy in playing yo-yo. He had these tricks that really amazed many other yo-yo enthusiast. I forgot the title of the anime. And because of this, I really thought that Japanese started this kind of craze. Later on, I learned that it was actually a Filipino-made toy. Then eventually, many people claimed it was originated in the Philippines.

It was said, back in Pre-hispanic Philippines, our ancestors used yo-yo as a weapon. Well, I think, many of you were aware of this information. But is it really TRUE? If you will asked Pedro Flores of where did he found out this toy, he will answer you 'from the Philippines.'

Anyway, who is Pedro Flores? (Note: He's not connected with Agapito Flores. Okay?)

Pedro Flores

Pedro Flores was born in Vintar, Ilocos Norte, and came to United States in 1915 where he studied college.

He is considered the first yo-yo maker in the US, and often described as an inventor of the yo-yo but he never personally claimed to have invented it. Flores always mention about its history as a centuries old Philippine game. Unfortunately, we don't have a strong evidence to prove it.

Pedro Flores started and ran a Yo-yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara, California between 1928 and 1932, but he never patented his works.

Between 1930 and 1932, he sold his interest in yo-yo manufacturing company for greater than $ 250,000.00 to Donald F. Duncan Sr. After that sale, he was still involved in selling yo-yo under Duncan and was instrumental in setting up large number of the promotions in the cities where the early Duncan contests were being held.

The Yo-yo

To those who don't know what yo-yo is, it is a toy with an axle connected to two disks and a length of string looped around the axle. If you wanted to know how to play it, go to youtube and watch a hundred of videos uploaded there.

Accordingly, it was first invented in ancient Greece in 500 BC. However, it was also believed that the yo-yo originated in China and was played there at a much earlier date.

Back in ancient Greece, there were records describing toys made out of wood, metal or painted terra cotta pointing out what we called now yo-yo.

Take note, the 'yo-yo' probably came from an Ilocano language or a cognate of Philippine languages. Well, it is obvious, the first make who created the toy is a native of Ilocos Norte.


Whether the yo-yo really came from the Philippines or not, we are still part of its fame in the whole world. Tayo ang pasimuno niyan.

In my own opinion, it is really impossible that the toy actually originated in our country and was used as a weapon by our ancestors.

First of all, if the toy originated from China, the first trade between some barangays in the Philippines and the Sung Dynasty was probably in the year 982 AD. So if we assumed that the yo-yo was traded that same year, and was continuously used till then, therefore yo-yo is thought by some natives to be ours because of too old forgotten transaction back in 982 AD.

About using it as a weapon, well, I have no idea. But I think, it is possible that the toy can really be used as a weapon, the same way how the Australian aborigines used boomerang as weapon.


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