Written by Christina Cervantes, B.S. in Applied Mathematics III.
Making bolo cases or bolos in general have been in existence for centuries, unfortunately there has not much written or documentation about the industry. But in this study I will focus on more in this particular form of art to give it at least some promotion.
In one of the barangays of the Municipality of Antequera, a 4th income class municipality in the province of Bohol, there is an existing bolo making industry that preserves cultural heritage.
In barangay Bicahan, bolo making is not really the main source of income of the people residing in the barangay. Their main source of income is making baskets. And it is not a common sight for many households since Antequera was named as the basket capital of Bohol.
Mr. Christopher Cervantes, a 44 year old married man who lives in barangay Bicahan, Antequera, Bohol, is a bolo case and handle maker. He has one daughter who is currently studying in college. He is originally from Zamboanga Del Sur in Mindanao, the home of blacksmithing (bolo making) industry in the Philippines. Mr. Cervantes is currently managing his own business, he is the one who makes the product and also who sells it. Accompanied by his brother, he sells his product every Sunday at the town market.
Coming from a not well-off family, Mr. Cervantes strive hard to support his own family financially that’s why he started off the bolo making business. He already experienced all the jobs that can be done out there, from being a waiter, a tricycle driver, laborer, construction worker to selling wholesaler products and many more. From these hard works he was encouraged by his uncle to start the bolo making business since that uncle of his was also managing a blacksmithing business in Surigao del Norte. Mr. Cervantes decided to take the way of making bolo cases and handles because as he said “Nagsundang ko kay dili siya madunot ug mabaho ug dali. (I entered this business because it cannot be rotten and does not stink easily.”
From having a capital of Php80, 000, Mr. Cervantes started his business. He purchased bolos without cases and handles from his uncle’s shop and he also had other source like in Davao, Cebu and Loay in Bohol.
In making the bolo cases, he drew first the shapes and styles of the cases using a carton. By using a mahogany tree, he then carved it into shape like a case.
Mr. Cervantes used mahogany tree for the case and guava tree for the handle. He also used the horn of the carabao for special orders. The following are the materials he used in making cases and handles: blow torch (use to darken the handle and case), varnish, grinder, plainer, blower and barena.
There are various kinds of bolo cases Mr. Cervantes makes. First type is the “sundangs’ case”, sundang is the visayan term for bolo but it is also the name for the most common bolo that is used in every household. It can be used to chop firewood, to sliced meat during fiestas and etc. Second one is “lagaraws’ case”, lagaraw/sanggot is a kind of bolo that is curvy. It is usually used by coconut climbers.
For the design of its cases, he uses “tigib” to sculpt it. Tigib is a kind of tool that is usually used by sculptures to sculpt some patterns or designs to their works. And he makes it right in front of their house.
With the bolo being a “must” item for every household, Mr. Cervantes gained enough profit for his business. He sells an item for not less than P200 each depending on the size and kind of bolo. He doesn’t only sells bolos but he also sells hardware like axe, hammer, saw, shovel, coconut grinder, grass cutter and etc.
Together with his brother, he sells his works every Sunday at the town market of Antequera. He usually starts displaying around 6 am as the people from the first mass starts entering the market.
During town fiesta and Christmas season his business is in demand because people need to used bolos and knives for the preparation of their celebration. And also way back in the year 2013 when the strongest earthquake struck in Bohol, his business boomed since the community was in need for materials that can be used to build again their destroyed houses.
Mr. Cervantes started his business way back in 2009 and until now his business were growing from having a one display table he have two now. Having the business really helped his family in their financial status. He supports
the education of his daughter who is now in college and also he helps his siblings’ daily needs.
Christopher Cervantes, +639296627821
Purok 3, Barangay Bicahan, Antequera, Bohol, Philippines