by Pamela Chua and Jose Aurelio Lozano, Panglantaw Mindanao
Mindanao is a land of migrants like Rony Saban, a blacksmith running a shop in Bugac, Maa, Davao City. Rony was a teenager when his family moved there from Cebu. His father set up the shop and taught Rony and his brothers the craft of making lagarao, a machete that is distinct for its curve and blunt end, and used by Visayan farmers to cut and harvest farm products like corn, coconut, sugar cane, rice and banana.
The lagarao gradually became a part of daily life’s tools in Davao as the family settled and prospered in their new home, like thousands of other migrants from Luzon and Visayas who migrated to Mindanao in the 1900s as the government encouraged migration to the islands.
In the 80s, the shop employed five blacksmiths and had an output of about 20 dozens lagaraos daily. As farmlands were converted into housing projects, the demand for the lagaraos has declined. Now the shop employs only one blacksmith and produces only about 30 pieces of lagarao per day. [PM]