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Bulador and Saranggola; The Sky is the Limit

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Arthur Africano

PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:55 pm    Post subject: Bulador and Saranggola; The Sky is the Limit Reply with quote

Bulador and Saranggola; The Sky is the Limit

During the 60’s the end of the harvest season in May marked the beginning of a unique pastime for young and old alike; Kite Flying Season. This was the time when agile “sarangola” of different colors and sizes and the simple but reliable “bulador” could be seen soaring and plunging in the sky. The previous landfill knoll in Quinale (current location of QES) created by pile of discarded woodchips “pinagukitan” was the favorite site for kids to launch their kites. At the base of the mound, the parched sweeping rice fields became a huge playground for kite enthusiasts. There were no obstructions that could tangle the kites and plenty of space to move around and avoid the other kites.

The process of kite making is an art itself and the residents of Paete found this sport fascinating. There were kites of different sizes and designs. There were simple but reliable “bulador” made of old newspaper, stick and glue made mainly for fun. The cross shaped frame of the bulador was made from pieces of “ting-ting” obtained from “walis” or broom. There were also small and agile “saranggola”, which were built for sport and kite fights. Sarangola was constructed from strips of a particular tough and pliant variety of bamboo called “matinik”, Japanese rice paper (papel de Japon) and glue. Lightweight and easy to assemble Chinese kites or “Bulador ng Intsik” were mainly made for kids. These kites were usually made of paper and glue. The simple design required a rectangular piece of paper (typically coupon bond) with folded sides (a one inch and half fold was made along both sides). The string is tied to the tips of each folded sides and a long slim tail (approximately 18 – 24 inches) was glued to the middle of the opposing end. The purpose of the tail/extension was to prevent spinning and allow more control of the lightweight kite. Although the kite was very light; the design worked and it was a delight to fly especially by small children.

Some kites were equipped with a gadget that created a strange sound similar to a buzz saw. A simple u-shaped gadget (a thin strip of bamboo its ends stretched by a native plant called “buli”) fastened to the back of the kite created this bizarre sound. The stretched “buli” vibrated once the kites were in flight thus filling the air with a symphony of sorts.

Serious kite buffs and bullies used strings that sliced the lines of other kites. The kite strings were immersed in a mixture of glue & powdered glass and then dried. Discarded fluorescent lamps were commonly used because they were thin and easy to grind. These kites were used for slashing and cutting the strings of unlucky opponents whose lines got tangled with their kites. The strong and steady easterly gust of wind locally known as “Amihan”; favored the fliers specially kite fights. Once a victim or opponent was spotted, the tactic used was to close in over (10 or 2 o’clock high) the opponent’s kite and slacked on the string. The kite would lose its lift due to the sudden sag on the line and the weight on the tip of the kite forced it to dive towards the opponent. When the kites/lines became entwined, the aggressor would hold and take off the slack. This steadied the kite and caused it to gain speed and accelerate upward. The final move was to let go on the string. There was no escape for the unlucky victim. The specially treated string acted like a saw, slicing even bigger size twine like butter. At times cuts and bloodied fingers were the result of using this specially treated strings in this seemingly innocent kite fights.

Amang Pacio Afunggol, a neighbor who assembled fish traps (baklad), fishing nets and wooden canoe was also an expert kite maker. He made large kites that required two people to launch. Some of his kites had a wing span of at least five feet and measured more than six feet from the tip to the tail. Once aloft, he would secure the thick twine of the kite to a rusted old transmission in front of his house.

Art Africano
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