The Blacksmith of Bongbongan Sibalom, Antique Philippines
by UTROS in Philippines
October 29, 2019
BONGBONGAN SIBALOM, ANTIQUE 29 OCT 2019 – Coined the term “Panday” or blacksmith in the Philippines is a metal smith who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut until the metal becomes soft enough for shaping with hand tools, such as a hammer, an anvil, and a chisel.
Blacksmith has been one of the primary resources of living for some Antiqueños because Antique is known for its agriculture, livestock, and fishery. Blacksmith is a work that involves physically strenuous and is very dangerous. Luckily, the Philippines boasts natural resources when it comes to metals and minerals. These items will be turned into new swords and tools used in the field by the skillful hands of Panday.
We visited the market day during Tuesday in Sibalom to meet a Panday and luckily we met someone who sells and still does blacksmith in Bongbongan II Sibalom – a place popularly known for its blacksmith. On the next day, we woke up early and walked six (6) kilometers or like climbing a 52 floors building to get to Bongbongan because usually there are no vehicles can enter or manage the rocky and uneven road as we also have to cross the river to get to the next barangay. We also have to walk through a pilapil or rice terrace before we reached Barangay Bongbongan II. Getting there is a challenge if you’re not used to it but it is good exercise. The view is simply breathtaking! offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
We interviewed a 3rd generation Panday from the Bongbongan, Mr. Juden Alangos, he has been a Panday for the last 26 years. He followed the footsteps of his late father whom he learned all the techniques at the age of ten by observing his father work. He told us that doing this job requires determination and perseverance to be able to succeed. He also told us that accident might happen if you will not be extra careful. Most substances you get in your eyes that make your eyes burn can cause serious eye problem. Exposure to flame rust may cause lost vision or blindness that why it is dangerous, so you must stay focus and cautious all the time.
The materials used are a piece of scrap metals called “molye”. The metal scrap will go to a heating process to soften enough and re-shape it. After a few minutes of letting it on burning coals, it will then be transferred to anvil – a piece of bunk metal in which the hammering will take place. There are usually two or more persons who worked for this process, the one who will hammer the metal and the other one will flip and turn the piece of metal or steel. After the metal has been softened, it was hammer continuously until it reaches the desired shape. The Panday brings the metal back on fire to make it soft again and repeat the procedure. After they shape the scrap metal into a sword or knife, they will now grind and polish the product. Some of them use carved horn of native Carabao – (The carabao Filipino: Kalabaw; Bisaya: Karabaw is a domestic swamp-type water buffalo) as the sword handle.
Mr. Juden told us the sad news that he might be the last in his family to do what has left by his ancestors since the next generation were no longer interested to continue the legacy of the family of blacksmiths. Blacksmiths generally substitute the modern way for making objects like sword and knife but in a traditional method. It must respond to keep for the cultural art form and today, many of this work is to admire and inspire people. Training and seminars for the people who give hard work for living should also be priority and the need to upgrade their knowledge and facilities shall be recognized especially in a remote area or rural community who still keep the rigid industry of blacksmith to cope up with the demands of the market and maximize the use of technology today, same goes to all the hard-working laborers in the Philippines.
*The details of sword Mr. Juden made for a client, the blade is absurdly sharp and the dragon curved head is stunning!
For those interested and would like to support
You may contact Mr. Juden Alangos
or visit him at Bongbongan II Sibalom, Antique Philippines or look for him every tuesday in Sibalom Market Day.