Just got back from the Phils...was out in Tagbilaran City (the capital of the island of Bohol in the Visayas), and decided to check out a local market since I had a feeling I'd find some local blades...
A few days later, after asking around, someone told me to check out a forge in Loay, a small town near Tagbilaran. On our way back from the Chocolate Hills, we stopped at the forges (there were two right next to each other):
The forges were very basic and traditional. It was amazing watching the pandayan make tough working blades from scratch. I picked up a sansibar and a 10" knife for 700 Piso (the panday wanted 500 for the sansibar and 300 for the knife, but he agreed to sell me both for 700).
Funnily enough, the bolo I'd bought at the market and all the other blades for sale there were made at the same forges. It was quite cool to buy blades right from where they were made.
The driver of the van we were in knew exactly where the forges were when I told him I wanted to go there. I was looking at a bolo, and he picked up a sansibar and said, "that's for working in the fields. This is for taking out bad guys!" That pretty much sold me on the sansibar.
My trip to the Phils will truly be unforgettable--can't wait to go back out there later this year!
I wish I could have hung out there for longer too, but we were on a tight schedule. The other people in our group weren't all that interested unfortunately.
As far as keeping your knives safe--lock your suitcase up, bury the knives deep down among everything else and hope for the best. I had 10 blades (including an Emerson Combat Karambit) and none of them went missing, although the Customs guy at Manila tried to get a bribe out of me. He said I needed 'certificates' for my balisong and that I could buy them at the airport. I said OK, and then he said he needed to register my case and open my suitcase. I went, "awww man," and then he asked if I was traveling alone. I pointed to my friend who had just come through the metal detector, and he said he wasn't going to register it, but...and looked to the right, away from the X-Ray machines. He obviously wanted me to give him some cash. My response: "But what?" He finally let me go.
Many years ago, and long before I learned how to care for blades, I got a nice souvenir kris sword that I brought back. Left it in the sheath for safe keeping, and a long time later when I brought it out, it was covered in rust!
I collect knives and have a few hundred--every month or so, I get them all out, wipe them clean, and apply a fresh coat of mineral oil to them. Works well to keep the rust off them, especially with Filipino and Indonesian spring steel blades!
Nice pics. You're lucky youre only an hour away. I'd be in P.I. way more often if I lived that close. Maybe its a good thing, I'd be broke buying all their blades.
My stuff went thru the xray machine and the officer asked why I had so many sticks and bolos in my bag. I just showed him a police patch from their academy and told him i was there for training earlier and gave him a few extra I had. No problem after that.
Glad you liked the pics--I only took two of em myself (the two of the blades for sale in the market). Going broke buying blades is a genuine worry, but I think I'll pick up some for resale on my next trip. I meant to do that on this trip, and I should have, but I wanted to check out the quality of the steel first. They're actually great working blades and they look like they'll last a lifetime.
Cool that you had the police patch to get you through customs. I have a friend who is half-Filipino who collects medals and militaria. He cleared customs with a Navy hat in his bag. They were questioning him and when he opened his bag and they saw his hat, they saluted and let him through. lol
I picked up a set of rattan sticks and a set of black kamagong ones too. Since this is bf, I didn't post pics of those, but I have started learning a little arnis. Silat is my main thing though, and we use sticks too.
Yeah, I got 5 balis from Batangas. My Bahi sticks all cracked returning to our cold weather.
They are Great working blades. The village heat treats can be a lil iffy. I used a friend's Rockwell hardness files to test a bolo and it was softer in certain sections of the blade. They were not soft by any means or under heat treated. Problem is many panday will use any steel they get. Its pretty easy to spot the touristy stuff prob made of fender steel, but, it helps to carry a file.
Check out Leyte. They have some very nice itak. Too bad my stay was short.