Who Invented the Yoyo? Who Invented the Moon Buggy?

“Has anyone ever played the yo-yo on the moon?” inquires a wondering Kidlat Tahimik at the start of this beguiling treatise on humanity's endless capacity for invention, whether in space or the Philippine jungle. As the film highlights, even the global juggernaut of the American space program can't get to the moon without Philippine innovations: the yo-yo (the early cousin of the gyroscope, which was placed on spaceships to the moon) was invented by Philippine tribesmen, while a Filipino living in the U.S. created the moon buggy. Still stuck starry-eyed on Earth, though (specifically in the far-off Germanic lands of “Yodelburg”), Tahimik works as a carpenter/”guest worker” and dreams of organizing POMP: the Philippines Official Moon Project, so named after consultations with his fellow untethered idealists, a bemused assortment of adorably cheeked little kids (many “played” by his family members). “You're sitting on the launchpad, Gottlieb,” he dryly notes to one tyke on a playground slide. While working out the details of turning his only commodity (onions) into rocket fuel, Tahimik also reminisces on his past in the Philippines, from boxcar races to his father's dreams of architecture, and his mother's role as mayor of his hometown. Connecting Third World and First World, the moon with the playground, and the yo-yo with the rocket ship, this “third-world space spectacle” blossoms with the energies of a creative mind willing to let itself go, fueled only by “your free will, your freedom to play the yoyo on the moon.”–

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