For this week’s Larong Pinoy, Museum From Home series, the National Museum of the Philippines features another recreational activity popular among Filipino children—the spinning top locally known as bowwot/bawwot (Ifugao), agngan/singgan (Isneg), kasing (Molbog), pansil/pasil (Batak and Tagbanua), betig (Maranao and Maguindanao), and trumpo/turumpo (Tagalog/Filipino).
Spinning tops became widespread across cultures through trade. Playing with the top involves keeping the top spinning for a long period or inflicting damage to the opponent’s top. The player whose top has recorded the longest time of spinning or with the least damage wins the match. Another way of playing it is by displacing an opponent’s top from a small square drawn on the ground by striking it with one’s top. Players can also display their skill by throwing the top in the air and catching it on their palms while it spins.
The Filipino’s ways of spinning and striking tops have similarities with those practiced by other neighboring Southeast Asian countries. In Malaysia, “gasing” (top spinning) is considered a mainstream sport. In Brunei, a spinning tournament is annually held in celebration of the Sultan’s birthday and as part of the Borneo Games.
Don’t miss out on another excuse for a fun family bonding activity at home. May the best top win!
Text by and poster by NMP Ethnology Division | National Museum of the Philippines (2021)