The Twists and Turns of Life
Have you ever played yoyo? Like a yoyo, Hiro Koba’s life was filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. At age 18, in 2006, he quit college after his parents separated. While at that age, he should be enjoying college and social life, being the eldest, he had to work in Japan to help support the family. He tried different jobs, and was just beginning to enjoy his new found capacity to earn, when he broke his back muscle in a food factory where he worked 10 hours a night. Sadly, he had to go home for treatment and recovery. For a young person like him who found a way to earn money, the agony of losing the chance to work and help his mom was even heavier than the loads his frail body had to carry in the factory. This twist brought him to a low point in his life.
Up and Down Like a Yoyo
Ironically, it is a game of ups and downs, twists and turns that sustained him. At 15, Hiro started developing a passion for yoyo. He spent lots of time practicing and later joined tournaments where he won many times. He became Philippine National Yoyo Champion in 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Could you imagine that during those times, a yoyo champion like him cannot even afford to buy yoyo string? But this did not stop him. Friends taught him how and soon, he was making his own yoyo string. Later, he was selling them to his friends who called them “Kitty String”.
Another Twist, Another Turn
It was in a 2007 tournament when an international judge took notice of the strings he made and suggested that he export them. Encouraged, he converted a tiny space in his room and with an improvised machine, made Kitty String and tried exporting them. The first sale did not go well, because the buyer did not pay him. Another twist, another low point. Undeterred, he used his Japanese speaking and writing skill to convince Japanese stores to buy. Soon, he was making his first export to Japan. After 5 months, he ran out of funds, had to stop, reaching another low point in his life of ups and downs. He cried out to God.
With the financial support of some friends, he had the chance to join an international tournament in Singapore. People he did not know complimented him for the Kitty String. This boosted his hope. It was like hearing God tell him to keep on going. From his relatives in the US, he received funds for him to join another international tournament, but instead of joining, he bought a machine and hired and trained a part time worker to mass produce Kitty String.
In the Hands of the Master
Today, Kitty String is sold in more than 30 countries and is used by thousands of yoyo players worldwide.
Looking back, Hiro Koba’s life was like a yoyo, filled with twists and turns, ups and downs, but now he knows that like a master yoyo player, God has been holding the string. In every ups and downs, twists and turns, the master will never let go. As he looks at his machine that twists and turns those threads that make up strong Kitty String, God reminds him that those twists and turns are only meant to make him strong like the Kitty String that he makes. In the hands of the master, the yoyo will never fall.