DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 April) – When someone tells you “Go fly a kite”, it’s not only about its literal meaning of flying a kite but also an admonition for you to” get lost” or do something frivolous or just waste your time somewhere. Over the last few days, I did exactly all of the above.

Since I left government about two years ago, every time friends would ask what I was doing, I had several answers. One, doing apostolic work (with the church, my fellowman and of course with my five “apo”); two, leisurely spending more extra time for myself and the family which I called “wasting time”. I have a ready answer when someone asks: “Are you back practicing (as a lawyer)?” My quick answer: “No, no longer practicing but doing the real thing”. Meaning, catching up a bit for lost time after those whirlwind days in public service.
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WASTING TIME –I’m sure many of us were just taking it easy during these last few days. I was at the mountain resort where we did the “stations of the cross” and the “visita iglesia” at the chapel. And under hazy skies and chilly breeze in the late afternoons, I was flying a kite with my grandson 2 and a half year old Jerod (Ning’s) and Jiggy and Anna (my nephew Jikjik Europa’s kids). Wasting time or flying a kite is a joy forever, I tell you.
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COMPUTERS –When I posted my frolicking day with the kite in my Facebook the other night, a friend Kenneth Sy (one of our buddies in the Davao classic sports cars club) posted a comment. He wrote: “These days when we say ‘go fly a kite’ kids would just head for the computer and Wikipedia on how to fly a kite and virtually fly a kite in the computer. Family bondings and happy moments like those (I mentioned) make happy memories there is in life. Moreover these make them better persons….” How true, Kenneth. This makes me recall why my wife Beth really argued against putting TV sets in our resort units at the Seagull mountain. One day a few years back when we just opened, one family with their children upon checking out told her: “Thank you we had the best time with the kids because there was no TV in the room.” But nowadays, the “baon” PSPs and the IPADs and laptops are changing all that now. (What a pity!.) When we opened the  resort “in the middle of nowhere” high up in the sky many years ago, there was no electricity then. When the lights came, we lost the fireflies and the butterflies.
CHILDHOOD JOYS — I was reminded when I was still in the elementary grade in a small barrio in Guihing in the south. My father, Martin was almost always out of the house as a passenger bus driver but during those rare days when he’s at home during summer, he’d make an extra big kite made of bamboo and “Japanese paper” in bright color, rigged with a thin slice of bamboo that vibrated in the wind with a humming sound like an airplane overhead. And we would go to the school ground just in front of our house and spend the whole day together flying the kite. We would tie the string to a tree and hurry home for lunch and then back again. Our neighbors were also there to watch with a few trying to outdo our kite with their own.. But we flew the farthest into the sky and the most bright and colorful. We would bring down the kite late in the afternoon when the sky started to darken with thousands of bats winging low as they started off for their daily nocturnal foraging in the forests nearby. On not-so-lucky days, the string would snap and we lost the kite but my father would tell me not to be sad because some kid in a family somewhere beyond the fields would find it and enjoy flying it too. Then he would try to retrieve as much as he could of what was left of the string and make me a new one. Today, we do not fly kites anymore. More sadly, I do not see the bats nor the forests anymore.

Things were a bit rustic then. Some may call it “backward”. There were no electricity, TVs, PSPs, computers then. The closest we got to cellphones were the two empty milk cans, connected with a long string and on the opened side I would speak and the other can cupped in my playmate’s ear to listen at some distance. Then in turn, he would speak into the can while I listened on the other end. It was priceless joy!

No computer games for us then! Just “shatong” using sticks or “tigso” or “tubigtubig” during moonlit nights.

Are the kids today better off than the kids of yesterday? I dunno with you. But I can tell you that my memories of the past do lighten my soul. Happy Easter!