Wednesday, April 16, 2014

War games, how to make your own assault rifle, summer memories...

We had a lot of banana trees then. We used to make camps inside
a banana cluster. We laid rice sacks for flloring and re-arranged
the leaves to make a roof. This humble plant is now extinct
in our neighborhood. (Photos taken from the school)
One of my favorite childhood games is war games. 

My friends and I divided ourselves into two teams and at the count of ten we would then proceed to our zones and try to shoot each other with imaginary rifles.

It was a game of teamwork and tactics. For weapons, we used the most abundant material we had then, bananas. We made rifles and pistols using banana stalk. Not content with small firearms, we cut the banana trunks and made mortars and canons, too. Of course our wars were not complete without a bunker and to build one, we stack banana trunks joined by bamboo shafts. 

Cut a banana leaf and pare off the leaves leaving the stalk clean.
Plastic toys were not popular then. China
was still the sick dragon, the sleeping giant of Asia
and her manufacturing prowess was still two decades into
the future. Most of the toys we had then were mostly
made in Taiwan.
During summer vacation, the games could last for weeks. It was not just games, there were story lines taken from World War II movies. 

I still remember the movies that captured our imagination: "To Hell and Back" a movie about WWII hero  Audie Murphy played by Audie Murphy and Kelly's Heroes starred by Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas, the bald guy.

Afternoon TV then was not as crowded as today; afternoons were usually reruns of WWII movies or  Sir David  Attenborough's "Life on Earth" series. It was martial law, TV was regulated. 

Once the stalk is cleaned, cut it in half.
Make a hole near the base of the lower half.
Once the game started, we all left reality and we were transported into WWII European theater were American and Allied forces battle it out with Hitler's SS troopers. We hid, we crawled, we ducked, we climbed trees and forgot lunch and household chores. 

Hunger did not bother us and we never stopped until our parents hollered for us. Some of us were grabbed by the ears while others were slapped on the buttocks, this was normal and child abuse was a thing not thought of by our parents nor by us children. Our parents were our parents and to disobey meant punishment. That's the way it was; of course, everything is different now and not for the better, may I say.

Insert the upper half of the stalk and then bend it to make the
handle. It should be longer for it will  also be the rifle's
barrel. Cut another hole fr the ammo magazine.
There were times we went out of our neighborhood to play with children from the other side of the sitio. Their leader and us ( the rest of humanity are tribal by nature) sometimes agreed to do war games, but this time it was held in a larger area with more children involved. Often this lead to fist fight (not me, usually its Tonio), rock throwing and broken jalousie blades. But it was always settled, usually by the parents. That was when neighbors knew each other. Today, I don't even know the people who live a few meters away from us because they are transient.

The rifle is complete and is now ready for test firing.
Our backyard was a rice field. (Today, it's a depressing squatter's colony). We had all the space we needed for outdoors game. Softball league was annually held there.

We also played foot ball, soft ball, hide and seek and tag. 

Compared today, it is sad to see children playing games in small, confined spaces. Also they are now into computers and other cyber games. Physical activities is limited.

Imagination is a wonderful thing. It is what made my childhood very memorable. I believed this is also true with my contemporaries.  The lack of toys was compensated by creativity and improvisations. Not only did we make our own toys, we also created our own reality, a place where everything was possible. 

Our minds were stimulated by natural things that surrounded us. Our house was a banana clump curtained by rice sacks. Our radio was a bubuyog trapped in a matchbox. To turn it on, we tapped the box and out came a buzzing sound, our music. Our food, guavas that abounded in the area. Our drinks, suntan nectar which we sucked and then we twirled to send it off flying. 

Creativity made up for what we lack in material things.

Fun is free. It's all about the power of a child's imagination. We should not kill the child in us. Work, stress, pressure, all these supresses the child in us and in the end, sucess and having stuffs may not matter if we do not have the child's ability to enjoy simple things. 

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