The summers of my youth

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 13, 2016 – 12:00am

Summer is almost here.

Like every kid, it was my favorite time of the year. With no school, we had all the hours to play, run, frolic under the sun, and just do whatever we wanted.

We were carefree. Summer was all about fun. We were young and free. What else could we ask for?

At our house on Boston Street, we thought we had everything. We had a modest-sized swimming pool that we dug ourselves. There was a clean creek behind our back fence with huge stones we hopped on to get to the other side. Beside our property was a vacant lot filled with kaimito, mango, santol, kamachile and sampaloc trees. It was a big undeveloped lot that was, for all intents and purposes, our own private playground when we were kids. There were big stones to sit on and lots of shade from the fruit trees.

We would climb every tree and spend hours sitting and lying on their branches. At night, we would set up our tents and camp, sitting and talking around a campfire.

Those were happy times. I played with my younger brother Raffy, my older sister Lory, some cousins and the sons and daughters of our household help. We were always on the go.

I had a dog named Hannibal and an air gun. We went on adventures looking for lizards and birds to shoot. We felt like big game hunters. We also had handmade bows and arrows and we used them for target practice, aiming at cans, bottles and anything else we could shoot at.

Summer was also a time when the young boys were circumcised. I spent around two weeks indoors when I was nine, recovering from this ritual of manhood. I could not wait to heal and run outside and play.

Summer was always magical. It was a time for discoveries, rituals and play. Our street had a huge fire tree. We would collect its bright red-orange flowers and hold our own Flores de Mayo procession. We also joined the church-sponsored ones. We also loved to bike around the wide and uncongested neighborhoods that dotted New Manila.

These days, young kids spend their summers so differently. They are home watching TV, or playing video games, or chatting with friends online on Facebook, and other online time-wasters. Or they are at the mall shopping, skating or just cooling off.

It is too hot to play outside. Maybe climate change is a bigger factor these days. I don’t remember feeling any discomfort playing under the sun. I did not mind sweating at all. These days, many kids seem to be turned off by their own sweat. They spend their summer days in sedentary activities.

Today’s kids are losing out. They do not have the summers my generation had. There are too many people on the streets and that raises safety issues. There are hardly any open spaces to go camping or kite flying, or run in wild abandon with one’s dog. There are no more clean creeks or rivers in the urban areas to soak in on a hot summer day. Kids also seem to have lost interest in climbing trees.

A lot of things have changed and it makes me sad.

These days, kids pursue summer activities offered in malls, like dancing, theater, singing, Taekwondo, etc. If the family can afford it, they travel around the country or go abroad.

I really wish we could go back and give our kids a summer experience outside the glass and concrete settings that they have grown attached to. How great it would be if they could spend more time outdoors, running in wide-open fields or walking through forests and swimming in lakes, or combing beaches without being self-conscious about being fashionable.

But who am I kidding? The summers of my childhood have long passed and will never come back. But then, the spirit of eternal summer beckons, as it always has. As the writer Oriana Green wrote, “I am Summer, come to lure you away from your computer… come dance on my fresh grass, dig your toes into my beaches.”

Come, children, let us frolic in the sun. And please leave your gadgets behind.

* * *
jim camera
I am offering my first Basic Photography Class this summer.

When: March 19 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, Varsity Hills, QC

Cost: P4,000 (VAT inclusive)

Please call Ollie at 0916-8554303 for reservations and all queries.

You must have a DSLR camera.

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