Because of Manong Bansiong I became also a kite maker of less caliber, but being an endangered art there is not much variety of kites flying around. The kites I make are not common, and they probably exude the same feeling to kids today as during our time.
I made kites for my children when they were small. Kites fascinated my late first-born son, Pao. It was therapy to his sickly condition. We would sit down together on the grass for hours holding on to the kite, the setting sun and breeze washing our faces.
When my youngest, Leo Carlo, took part in a kite competition at UST, I helped him with the sinang-cayyang. It did not win. But in the following year and the year after Leo Carlo became the consistent kite champion of UST, and so he carries on the legend of Manong Bansiong.
2. I can “cure” a person who is naan-annungan.
An-annung is the Ilocano of nasapi-an. Spirits cast spell on a person, the old folks say.
The victim may suffer of stomachache or headache accompanied by cold sweat, body
weakness or feeling of exhaustion.
Well, take this case. It was dusk when a tenant of ours insisted of climbing a betel, Areca catechu to gather its nuts (nga-nga). My dad objected to it, but somehow the young man prevailed.
The stubborn young man was profusely sweating and was obviously in pain, pressing his stomach against the tree trunk. Dad called for me. I examined my “patient” and assured him he will be all right. And like a passing ill wind, the spell was cast away. Dad and the people around believed I had supernatural power.
There had been a number of cases I “succeeded” in healing the naan-annungan But I could also induce – unknowingly - the same effect on some one else. That too, my dad and old folks believed. They would sought for my “power” to cast the spell away from - this time – no other than my “victim”. What a paradox!
When I grew older and finished by studies, I began to understand that having an out-of-this-world power is a myth. I read something about Alexander the Great consulting the Oracle at Siwa to find out if indeed he is a god-sent son. “The Pharoah will bow to you, ” the priestess told him. And it did happen - the pharaoh kissed Alexander’s feet. The great warrior died before he was 33.
I must have been 4 or 5 years old. Dad was reading Manila Bulletin on a rocking chair.
I was playing Robin Hood. Since our sala is very spacious (it has no divisions), anything on the ceiling and walls was a potential target. But something wrong happened. In physics a crooked arrow would not follow a straight line, so it found an unintended mark – the center of a widespread newspaper.
4. I shot my finger with an airgun.I bought an airgun from Ben Florentino, a classmate of mine in high school at the Colegio de la Immaculada Concepcion (CIC Vigan) for fifty pesos, a good amount then, circa 1955. I was loading the pellet, when I dropped the rifle, and on hitting the ground, went off. The bullet pierced through the fleshy tip of my left forefinger. I tried to remove it but to no avail, so I went to the municipal doctor. There was no anesthesia available, and when I could no longer bear the pain, he simply dressed the wound and sent me home.
My wound soon healed, and the lead pellet was to stay with me for the next five years or so, when I finally decided to go for an operation. Had it not been for my playing the violin, I would not have bothered to do so. And it was providential.
One day this guy (I forgot his name) took us to Busiing river, a kilometer walk or so from the poblacion. The water was inviting, what would kids like best to do? We swam and frolicked and fished, but then the water was steadily rising so we had to hold on the bamboo poles staked in the water to avoid being swept down by the current. I held on tightly, and I saw
Just then dad came running and saved us. We heard him castigate the fellow who, we found out that he mentally retarded that he didn’t even realized the extreme danger he put us in.
I didn't know that with a sip too many one gets drunk. And that was precisely what made me feel sick, but 1 did not tell dad. He called a doctor to find out what was the matter with me. When the doctor arrived he found me normal. What with the distance from Vigan to San Vicente - on a caleza (horse-drawn carriage)? But the doctor was whispering something to dad.
Caleza, Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Residents started coming out. I heard shouts, some men angrily confronting the cochero. Bantay is noted for notoriety of certain residents. Instinct must have prodded Basang to take me in her arms and quickly walked away from the maddening crowd. No one ever noticed us I supposed.