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Luzon (Philippines) blades

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#1
Eskrimador

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Here are some blades from Luzon:

These are from Bicol in Southern Luzon.


This is the Bicolano version of the ginunting. As you can see, it is very different in shape to the ginuntings of Negros and Panay. This is primarily an agricultural blade while those of the visayas are primarily for fighting.

There is a preference to keep "agricultural" blades unpolished to save the few microns of blade thickness that would be lost to buffing. They are also less expensive that way.

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Here's a "baby" Bicolano ginunting with a shorter blade.

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This one is called the "Sinampaloc". Sampaloc is the tagalog word for tamarind. It is so-named because the blade is similar in shape to a tamarind fruit. This is great for chopping coconuts.

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And here's a "baby" version.

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I forget the name for these blades, but they have a better pedigree than the preceding models. The brass guards, thinner polished blades, and lively balance make them more useful for martial applications.

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The tangs on most Luzon blades go all the way through the handle, and are peened over a washer at the pommel. That gives a more solid attachment than Visayan products where the tang only goes part way into to handle and is held in place by friction and glue.

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#2
Eskrimador

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Moving north from Bicol (still in Luzon) we come to Quezon province.

Here is one of the more famous blades on Quezon, the "Dahon Palay" which literally means "rice leaf" after which the blade takes its shape. This has a leather sheath with its own belt.

This has very good balance and would work well as a fighting blade, though its use is primarily agricultural. Handle is of carabao horn.

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The pommel is nicer than the ones on the Bicolano bolos.

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#3
jayinhk

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Thanks for sharing! :tu: I've never been to Bicol, although I have been as far north as Baguio. Interestingly, I have a pinuti like blade from Loay, Bohol that looks a lot like the ones from Bicol. I'll post pics up when I get a chance.

#4
Eskrimador

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Just north of Quezon is the province of Batangas, famous for their balisong knives. The smiths who make balisongs also make larger blades like the following:

This is a Batangas bolo generally called a "tabak", "itak" or "gulok". It has a thick heavy blade, brass guard, and a carabao horn handle. Sheath is made of synthetic leather lined with thick plastic.

Before buying a bolo like this, have the seller test it on a 1/4-in diameter iron nail. The bolo should chop the nail in half without any damage to the blade.

I don't like them too much as I find them too heavy.

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Here's a field knife version. Test it on smaller nails. :)

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#5
Eskrimador

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From Batangas we go further north through Manila and on to Zambales. Zambales is known for its jungles and the aeta tribesmen who are experts in using bolos for jungle survival. (Aeta tribesmen used to train US military personnel at Subic Bay Naval Base on jungle survival).

It so-happens that I have a friend based in Zambales, and he gave me these two jungle bolos that he ordered from the smith who makes them for the Aeta. Of the Luzon bolos that I own, only these pieces feature full-tang blades. They are very sharp too.

These would be my hands-down choices if I had to survive in the jungle.

This one has the traditional carabao horn handle
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This one is a version with a rubber handle made from a truck tire.
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Carabao horn is favored as a handle material because it is tough and gives a non-slip grip when left unpolished. Also, powdered carabao horn is good at stopping bleeding. Just shave a few slivers from your bolo handle and apply them to cuts.

#6
Eskrimador

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North of Zambales is Pangasinan where this bolo came from. It is their version of the "baby sinampaloc" but with a fancier handle of cast aluminum and wood.

I should have more Pangasinense blades...

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Note the nut locking the tang to the pommel.

#7
Eskrimador

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Finally, here are Ifugao bolos from Ifugao province in the northern highlands. The Ifugao used to be headhunters and used bolos and head axes to claim their trophies.

These were made by an Ifugao blacksmith in the town of Kiangan, said to be the cradle of the Ifugao culture. I plan to visit him again to have a head axe made. He didn't have bandsaw steel (which he said made the best head axes) during my last visit. :lol:

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The handles are rolled from the same steel as the blade and wrapped with rattan. They are very solid pieces.

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I hope you enjoyed viewing them.

#8
jayinhk

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I really like the Ifugao pieces. I'm quite interested in seeing the Aeta and Ifugao. I've seen an Aeta in Manila. He made a beeline for me and my buddy since my friend was black. We thought he was an addict at first--then we realized he was just down on his luck. :(

By the way, I've heard the Batangas itaks like the one you have were actually made in Pangasinan. I have a bolo and a kris in the same style (carabao handles, brass bolsters and synthetic sheaths).

#9
Aardvark

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I like the Ifugao pieces a lot.

Thanks so much for the interesting thread.

#10
NoahL

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Finally, here are Ifugao bolos from Ifugao province in the northern highlands. The Ifugao used to be headhunters and used bolos and head axes to claim their trophies.

These were made by an Ifugao blacksmith in the town of Kiangan, said to be the cradle of the Ifugao culture. I plan to visit him again to have a head axe made. He didn't have bandsaw steel (which he said made the best head axes) during my last visit. :lol:

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The handles are rolled from the same steel as the blade and wrapped with rattan. They are very solid pieces.

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I hope you enjoyed viewing them.


Socket handles are the best for choppers--I love these! How much did those cost you?

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#11
sta94

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Very interesting! Thanks so much for sharing with us :tu:

And yes, a sense of price-range of these blades would be cool to know, just to get a general idea - that is, if you would want to share, no probs if you'd rather not. :)

#12
ThePepperskull

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I love the Ifugao blades! They're absolutely wonderful!

The Quezon province blades always take me back, too. My grandmother still has one she uses to butcher meat.. even though it's more balanced for matial applications. I've had a lot of good meals prepared from a similar bolo. I don't know how she got it here to Canada. Probably in a balikbayan box. Also, my family isn't from Quezon so I wonder why of all blades she chose to use one from there.


Pangasinan blades I'm not too fond of. The newer made ones have thinner spines than the antique examples I have handled. Older pangasinan blades werw wonderful, but these new ones I just don't feel safe using. they feel almost flimsy if I may be so bold to say.

#13
jayinhk

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Pepper, Pangasinan is pumping out both junk tourist blades and some of the best blades produced in the Philippines. The junkier ones are just as you describe, but the guy Eskrimador suggested I go see produces really, really good stuff. :)

#14
KuKulzA28

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I like the Dahon Palay.

The Ifugao blades have a lot in common with Taiwanese aboriginal blades... and of course I have a positive bias for Taiwanese aboriginal knives! :) The hollow handles can be odd and yet comfortable.
~Vinny

#15
filhistory

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eskrimador, thanks for the nice pics and the good info :)

there's more coverage in the internet of visayan (central philippines) and sulu-mindanao (southern phil.) blades. thus, info on luzon (northern phil.) blades sure is very much welcome.

pampanga is a province in luzon which blades is also not well known. i was there the other day (in apalit town, the home of panday pira) and i picked up a pangtabas.

it's the one in the middle and i placed it between two mindanao panabas, for comparison.

the one on top is a lumad (non-moro mindanao) panabas, and it is 63 cm (25") long overall. the one at the bottom is a moro panabas, and it's 84 cm (33 1/2") long overall.

during the philippine revolution (1896-1898) and the philippine-american war (1899-1902), three out of four filipino soldiers were bolomen. in central luzon, some of the soldiers did carry the pangtabas, side by side with their fellow revolutionaries who carried the traditional bolo.

incidentally, the one identified as batangas has a hilt that is traditionally identified as coming from pangasinan.

thanks again, and regards to all (this being my first post here).

aside from the blog below by the way, i also write about phil. weapons here: facebook filhistory page. hope those interested in phil. weapons can check it out :)

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More Filipino weapons are at Filhistory

#16
KuKulzA28

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Hello filhistory, welcome!

The blog and facebook page is excellent. A little dose of Filipino martial history for me every few days when I log onto facebook. :D
~Vinny

#17
rio

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welcome to ramanon:beernana::tu:

#18
filhistory

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thank you, sirs, for the welcome :)
More Filipino weapons are at Filhistory

#19
ThePepperskull

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Welcome, Filhistory!

As an avid reader of your blog I am contented to see you in my neck of the internet woods! I'm not sure if you remember, but I commented on a Kris you posted: the five-waved one with the gold and ivory hilt. We discussed the possible origins of that particular piece in terms of location.

Anyways, keep doing what you're doing and I hope to see you post here more!

#20
KuKulzA28

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Anyways, keep doing what you're doing and I hope to see you post here more!


True that, keep it up! :tu:
~Vinny




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