It was during the summer of 2001. I and my playmates were under the heat of the glaring sun busy making our “tabanog”. Arjan, who was four years younger than me was holding a blue plastic bag. Like any inquisitive kid, he kept on asking me, “Ate Banban unsaon paghimo ug tabanog?1” he didn’t stop pulling my skirt until I replied his childish query.
“It takes patience to make a kite Arjan. So just sit there, relax and wait for me to finish the kite I’m still making, okay?”, I carefully explained to him.
So he sat at the corner and waited for me. When I finally finished my hand made kite, I asked the little boy to structure his blue plastic bag. He was very excited that time. He drew a curve on his lips when I narrated him my first instruction, “Okay Arjan first you have to fold the bag in half and it should be flat and even.”
“Ate, I want the shape of my kite to be patterned after yours,” he requested with such eagerness.
I asked him to spread the plastic bag which he had just folded. Then I instructed to cut the bag in a pentagonal shape; because it resembled the shape of my kite which he wanted to imitate .When he had finally cut the two pentagonal shaped plastic bags, I asked him to spread it on the floor. Everyone was busy with kite-making. Assembling the hand-made and ready-made materials for their kite made them excited and jovial.
Arjan was very fervent. He would ask me from time to time about the proper way of cutting the plastic bag. Along with being enthusiastic, he was very patient when I taught him how to make a kite. His patience and eagerness showed that he really wanted to learn something; and learn something from someone regardless of age difference.
Sometime later I asked him to get broomsticks which were to act like a skeleton for the kite. The sticks he got were too frail. “Choose those sticks that are hard enough, the harder the sticks the more durable your kite will become,” saying this, I asked him to grab another sticks which were strong enough to hold the wind current. We measured the pentagonal plastic bag and cut the sticks in accordance to its height. Then we knot the sticks using a rubber band on both ends. These bands were tied both, horizontally and vertically.
Arjan was very happy when he saw the kite but I told him that it wasn’t finished. “ We have to put a tail on your kite, what color would like us to use Arjan?”
“Katong red, Ate Banban,” he quickly replied.
The red tail of the kite was taped at the bottom. It was very attractive and Arjan’s eyes sprung into delight by his new achievement, a new hand-made kite which soon would be reaching the skies! “Makapalupad na ko ug tabanog, Makapalupad nako ug tabanog,” he screamed with admiration and mark of surprise.
But before we flew our kites, we needed to attach a string for us to maneuver it.
“Muuli sa ko’g balay, te, aron mukuha ug sinulid” The little boy ran towards their house to steal a roll of thread from his grandmother’s sewing box. As he rushed to his home, I wondered if things could always be free, without something to guide it. After all, although the kite flies to the distant sky; which we can hardly reach, undoubtedly is held by someone far down the ground.
We tied the blue sewing thread tightly on both ends and started to do trial and error. We were successful during our first try. So we decided to fix the mess and everything on the ground for tomorrow’s kite flying activity with our other playmates.
I was nearing my tenth birthday. The summer sky was overcast. The wind blew hard and it was a perfect time to fly the kite; the very kite which I had made with my own hands and childish creativity which included a plastic bag, broomsticks and rubber bands. We were playing “dangaway” that time. However, I and Arjan were so excited that we even opted to skip a round of the game which the two of us, along with my childhood friends were playing.
The day came and it was a time for kite-flying.
We walked to a two-hectare empty lot, an approximate distance of half a kilometer from our subdivision. I have known the place since the time I and my playmates caught spiders one dismal evening. I could not recall how many times I set foot on that lot. However, one thing I was sure of and it was that every time I visited the place, I felt as though I were seeing it for the first time. My eyes then was like those of the philosophers who saw daily things with amusement and fascination; every single day. Tall, green grasses, with a gentle caress of the wind were dancing along the tune; swaying like passionate lovers.. Through that empty lot, I found my paradise. It was not the same as the miniature paper castles I used to play on, but it was far better. It was as if I owned a piece of land which nobody else knew existed. So I started flying my kites that summer. I liked to maneuver the flight of my kite wishing that they would someday kiss the azure sky. I and Arjan enjoyed the flights of kites like other first time kite flyers. The wind blew hardly and the tall grasses swayed hard this time as it made the perfect sounds of nature. We were able to fly the kites that we made. Unlike mine, Arjan’s kite, however, was not able to withstand the strong wind. It fell hard on the ground, helpless. With the kite’s fall, it seemed that nature showed her powers when things grew to optimum. Consequently, his kite, which had tried reaching the sky fell down to the ground and became too frail to be mended.
I asked Arjan that we would fly my kite together. It was euphoric. It went higher, up and up and cut and swerved. That time I wanted my kite to soar high, fly like a bird, unafraid of losing their stability. Perhaps I loved kites because of their persistent aim to ascend. There was one time when one of my kites reached the highest point of its flight. I pulled the string and maneuvered it carefully. I was at my happiest at that moment. The higher it soared, the freer it was. But suddenly the wind had become calm so it slowly lost its flight making it kiss the restless ground.
The moment I had with that little boy, and my encounter with my kite will be remind me of many attempts to maneuver the “tabanog” to reach the highest heaven. It was a summer spent with so much patience and longing. Our present becomes a past, and no matter how hard we try, we can never re-live those moments. It’s all the memories we cling to…“that time, this happened…it was so fun…” and we have a hearty laugh. With time, I along those friends who surrounded me certainly have grown up to be mature people; people who think logically and reach a conclusion. However, despite it, every time I see young kids flying kites, I drift to my days when I did the same. More than that, I think of that little kid, Arjan, who once dreamt of reaching the sky like a kite.
Vanessa Mae Almeria is a 4th year Creative Writing major from Gen San.