Tarzan & Elsie Kimmayong - Banaue, Ifugao

Matiyayao 'John' Kinggingan - Banaue, Ifugao

Tugaya Blacksmiths - Tugaya, Lanao del Sur

Tugaya Brassware Multipurpose Cooperative - Tugaya, Lanao del Sur

The tradition of metalworking in the country involves at least two processes: brass casting using the lost wax/ waste-mold process and blacksmithing which involves the hammering of red-hot iron on an anvil. The lost wax method is characteristic of metal production in southern Philippines. Blacksmithing using the hammer and anvil is commonly observed in metalworking sites scattered across the archipelago. Brass casting activities in Southeast Asia can be traced as far back as the early 13th to 14th centuries with China’s discovery of brass, used to fabricate brassware and brass sculptures. In the late 16th to 17th centuries, the practice reached Mindanao, and to this day, though not without difficulty, the craft tradition lingers on. 

The lost wax method involves five steps: preparation of the wax mold, impression of the wax mold on clay and sand support, drying and firing of the clay and sand mold, pouring in of molten metal into the hardened clay mold, and retrieval of hardened metal from the clay mold. This method has been much in use in areas such as Tugaya in Lanao del Sur, Kalanganan in Cotabato, and the T’boli area of South Cotabato. The name “lost wax” derives from the actual losing of the wax as the clay and sand mold is fired and melts the wax in the process. Through open channels, the wax flows out of the clay mold. What is left of the wax is only the impressed design on the hardened clay mold. When the molten metal is poured into the clay mold, it takes up the space left behind by the wax, and the design impressed on the clay is assumed by the metal. Once the metal hardens, the clay mold is broken and the metal is extricated from it. Soldering of the metal into one piece follows.

The traditional production of metal blades uses a forge with manually-operated bellows made from bamboo poles and wooden sticks. Iron is heated and hammered down against a hard flat surface that serves as an anvil to produce the desired form.

Other techniques related to metalworking are metal inlaying and repoussé. Metal inlaying serves as decoration in betel nut boxes, jars, bowls, ointment containers, and other objects for personal use. In the process of casting, channels on the surface of the object where the inlaying is to be done are provided for. The inlay metals are hammered in and locked into the surface channels. In other cases, the inlaying material is liquefied and poured into the channels provided for during casting. Repoussé is the technique of making shallow bas-relief sculpture on a surface. This is done by sinking the metal down into a soft-supporting sheet or pitch, made from a mixture of wax, tar and a filler. The metal is then hammered into the pitch