CoPiCon connects generations through toys, memorabilia, collective nostalgia


MANILA, Philippines — It’s undeniable that Filipinos tend to be sentimental sometimes. It doesn’t matter how many decades have gone by, many of the things we have had from the past— or perhaps, wished to have had back then — are still precious in the eyes of some today. 

Depending on your interests and the generation you belong in, there will always be stuff that connects us to an era we feel strongly about, be it old photos, sports memorabilia, coins, stamps, postcards, or could be as simple as toys such as “pogs,” “tex” and yoyo. 

But while older generations like the ’80s and ’90s kids love their memories well, it’s only a matter of time when young ones like Gen Zs or the Generation Alpha will be clueless about the things we hold dear. Fortunately, there are many sentimental titos and titas who won’t just let that happen. Among them are the collectors and pickers who aim to pass on our pop culture history to the new generations — one toy at a time. 

Toys as time machines

CoPiCon houses a wide collection of toys and memorabilia from as early as the ’80s. 

Philstar.com/Jap Tobias

For Peter Polilio, a toy hunter and organizer of the Collectors and Pickers Convention (CoPiCon), toys bring us back to the days when we see our life and the things around us in their simplest, purest form. 

“Regardless of value, form or size, toys are time machines transporting us to a specific time of our lives where what we see is only the goodness that the world offers,” he described.  

CoPiCon, a convention of collectors and pickers of various toys and memorabilia across generations, wants to showcase these old toys and items in order to make our past continue to exist in the present. The event aims to bring toy enthusiasts and exhibitors in different parts of the country to sell, buy or even trade pieces.

Stamps, toys and collector cards from exhibitors at the CoPiCon 2022. 

Philstar.com/Jap Tobias

According to its founder Mayk Pagulayan, CoPiCon is all about bringing back memories, paying tribute to our precious past, and passing on the simple joys of the older generations to the younger ones. 

“Binabalik namin ‘yung mga dati na hindi nakita ng mga bagong henerasyon ngayon. Kung paano kasimple ang buhay ng mga buhay noon, gaano kasimple ang mga laruan at gaano kasimple ang mga gamit,” he shared in an interview with Philstar.com.

“Ito kasi, parang pinaka isa sa aming layunin ay di lang para kumita, kundi para rin ipreserve. Kasi ‘pag binili mo ‘yan, for sure ip-preserve mo ‘yang treasure from the past,” Pagulayan added. 

Old still gold at CoPiCon 2022

Collectors and pickers from different generations converge at CoPiCon 2022 to dig out vintage toys and memorabilia.

Philstar.com/Jap Tobias

Iconic toys, pop culture items, old coins and vinyl records were aplenty at the Lucky China Town Mall Atrium last May 17 to 26. Oldies, millennials and Gen Zs happily took a trip down memory lane with CoPiCon exhibitors’ curated finds from the past, such as old soda bottles, action figures from classic television shows and even movie posters from the golden age of cinema.

The convention is a brainchild of Mayk Pagulayan, more known as “Kuya Mayk,” in the collector and pickers community. With years of experience in toy picking, collecting and attending different conventions, Pagulayan started CoPiCon in his desire to create an event that caters to and connects different generations and interests. 

CoPiCon houses timeworn pieces that are very rare to find today. Among these are old coins and bills, vinyl record plaques of classic ’70s to ’80s songs, election paraphernalia of former Filipino politicians, and even newspapers and magazines from the time when monochrome printing was still the only option. The exhibited items vary, with some pre-owned while some were new purchases. 

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It also sets itself different from other toy conventions by catering to both “collectors” and “pickers.” Collectors are those who collect things of any type, regardless of the size, generation or theme. Meanwhile, “pickers” scour places to hunt and buy specific items they want to acquire, such as vintage memorabilia or pop culture items. 

Apart from satisfying one’s nostalgia, CoPiCon is a platform to bridge generation gaps through exchanges of stories on things that we hold dear from the past. Hence, people from different generations and walks of life can find at the CoPiCon not only ’70s to ’80s memorabilia but also relatively newer pieces from the ’90s — like “tex,” “pogs,” NBA Cards, robots and other small figurines — and items from the 2000s, such as FunkoPops, Anime figures and old toys from fast-food chains. 

Collective nostalgia

Founder Mayk Pagulayan (left) and other organizers and exhibitors at CoPiCon

Philstar.com/Jap Tobias

The passion that the collectors and pickers community share can be summarized in one word: nostalgia. But what the word means differs for each of them. 

For young CoPiCon guests like 13-year-old Kathleen Cruz, nostalgia means being able to see firsthand the things that their parents are proud to have had before. 

“Madami po naming mga batang curious sa mga lumang gamit, pero minsan wala na pong maipakita ang parents dahlil luma na or sira. Nakakatuwa po kami (kasi) first time kong makita ‘yung mga kinekwento lang dati nina daddy,” she shared. 

Meanwhile, Alvin Guánico of 90s Portal believes satisfying one’s nostalgia is all about reliving joy. “Sobrang stress reliever ito dahil hindi na tayo mababalik sa nakaraan. Minsan ka lang magiging bata, so ang sarap sa pakiramdam na mabalikan mo ‘yung kabataan mo at ‘yung mga ikinasasaya mo noon,” he expressed. 

But for some others like Kuya Mayk, collecting old toys and memorabilia today gives them the chance to experience what they weren’t afforded when they were kids. “Nu’ng bata ako, ‘di ako nakakabili ng ganyang mga laruan. ‘Di ako binibilhan ng magulang namin,” he recalled. 

“So ngayon, ‘yung mga di ko nabibili nu’ng bata ako ay inuunti-unti ko. To fulfill your dreams nu’ng bata ka pa. Binubuno mo ‘yung kakulangan mo nu’ng bata ka,” he concluded. 

Whatever nostalgia means for you, one thing is clear: memories make old toys more than just plastic pieces, and we don’t necessarily have to outgrow them. Even if screens are replacing toys and old records have become online playlists, there will always be a place for all the old stuff that has once been influential in our lives — maybe not in our houses, but in our minds, and perhaps in communities like CoPiCon. 

CoPiCon’s next exhibit is scheduled for Fathers’ day, June 17 to 19, in Festival Mall Alabang. 





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