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The History and Culture Behind Filipino Weapons to Present Time...

Now this is based on knowledge i have acquired during my various Philippine trips over the years.
It is also based on my observations. At this point in my life, I have been there enough times to come to these conclusions.

A lot of the blades that I have on the TFW web site are very rare. We found some of them from some old men on whatever island in the Philippines, others were in my friends family tribe handed down through generations. Others were located in museums in the Philippines. I found some here in the Museum of
Natural History as well.

The ones that I noticed that are common carry in the Philippines today are the Pinute and the Ginunting. Those are common in the Visayan area. Though the Pinute is popular ALL over the Philippines it seems like. The Itak Tagalog is more popular in some parts of the north...which is really a Pinute with a subtle design change.

I actually saw a few people in the south with Kris swords. That freaked me out to see people carrying these weapons in this day and age. It was not common to think about it, the Kris does not double as a tool. Made me wonder how much blood was on those Kris swords I saw being carried.

In the North, it was common to see the Golok The word Golok is common in Indonesia. But that makes sense since Bagiuo region are a result of the early Indonesian travelers who caught a wind that brought them to the north. I was told they were going to the Southern Philippines and caught a wind that brought them further north. My friend looks very Indonesian
actually and so do many of the people of that area.

I have seen a few Karambits but I think it is more the style in modern day that catches their eye. Again, that is an Indonesian influence. There is another type of Karambit called a lihok. Its ugly, it does not have that ring at the end of has just a common handle...but it is deadly. Definitely not just a tool. I will be having that one soon as part of the TFW collection. I am not sure of the history of it right now but its common in the northern region. My guess is that it is also an Indonesian influence due to the looks of it but I can be wrong.

The War Golok is actually another northern design...a design that is a result of the Spanish breaking the tips of the Sword of the Filipinos. The Filipinos were very good at thrust and slash action with their swords. The Spanish were intimidated by the slash and thrust fighting tactic. Especially during a lot of the rebellion that was going on at the time so Spanish soldiers were
ordered to take all the swords of the Filipinos and break off the tips of their swords. If anyone was seen with a tip on their swords (mostly within the Manila/Luzon region), they were killed. Every one had to follow that law or suffer the consequences. All their blades had to be forged with a flat top, though a newer fighting method of making it a little heavier and gaining a new hacking style of fighting still made it a formidable weapon. I have a War Golok that is very has killed 5 different people. The 5 people were burned and the ashes were put on the sheath to keep the spirits of the warrior power in that blade. It is a priceless
gift to me. You can literally smell the death on this sheath and blade. If any of you ever make it to my school, I will show it to you. I was told not to let anyone touch it so you will not be able to touch it. It disrupts the spiritual balance of the blade. And I may have to use it some day so I need the spirits in my favor. ***wink**.

The Espada Y Daga is not a common blade to see carried today but it is VERY popular. I think it is kept alive through Kali, Arnis and Eskrima practitioners and instructors.. It is popular in San Miguel, Illustisimo and Pekiti Tirsia...I am sure many other FMA styles as

The Garab sword is another one you see that is still carried today. The Garab knife is a very popular design there. It is a good tool for coconuts and cutting of about everything that is done there in the Philippines. And it is definitely a formidable weapon. I like that knife. I have seen that all over the Visayan area and all over the south. I have seen many people on the side of the road using it as a tool in the job they were doing.

The Iron Wood sticks are still carried as a self defense weapon. In the more civilized areas, you can still get prison time for slicing up a person like anywhere else now a days (not that it does not happen there), so Iron wood seems to make a good self defense weapon. I have heard that some tribal arguments are settled with various types of Iron Wood sticks. One hit with one of them will break whatever it makes contact with or death occurs. Its not like fighting with rattan where you can show off your bruises after a good fight or two. Those Iron Wood Sticks are real weapons, not training tools.

The Pakal knives are a combat weapon made for exactly that, to be held in
pakal position (Known as ice-pick or earth position) comfortably. Those are pretty much
designs of my friends tribe. You can see those on, and You can feel a big difference from a knife designed for that position in comparison to one that isn't. Very practical and they feel great in the hand(s). I personally like to carry one knife in standard position and the other one in ice pick position. the fighting method in that position is great for close-range.

The Balisong is still a popular carry. All the Special Action Force Commandos and the Marines all had Balisongs. I found that amazing. I feel it is
a good knife but there are simpler ones for the military to carry. In Batangas, you can see the
tourist versions of Balisongs all over the place for sale. To me they are cheap made by comparison to mine
but then again, I am spoiled by good quality.

Pretty much, all the others on the TFW site are considered extinct today. Like I said, we had to seek them out and bring them back to life again. We are working hard to revive these ancient swords due to the fact they are an important part of ancient Filipino history.

All cultures were once blade oriented cultures. they had to be or you would not exist today. All our ancestors had to fight with the blade at one time or another for whatever reason. The blade cultures are pretty well dead now. That is due to the modern existence of firearms. You pull out a blade, you get blown away. So to keep up with the rest of the world, every one got a firearm. Especially the military! The reason the bladed weapons culture is still alive in the Philippines and other parts of SE Asia is because those people depend on them as tools. They use them for everything they make, including art, crafts, repairs, crops, etc.. Many of them are
poor people who cannot afford modern tools (or a gun for that matter), they were brought up with the blade as a tool so they are used to it. In turn, you will see an occasional hacking up of a body or two when some drinking is going on or someone wronged another and revenge takes place.

Bladed weapons will always give us a natural feeling of fascination. They have been weapons as well as tools in our ancestor’s life since the beginning of time and will continue to be part of us some how or another in the future. They are also works of beautiful art. The art work decorates the reason they exist. The fear we feel, is knowing in our minds what these bladed weapons can do and have done to other human beings.

Ron Kosakowski
Practical Self Defense Training Center
847 Hamilton
Ave (Rt 69).
Waterbury, CT 06706

Views: 1526

Comment by Samuel Ibe on January 28, 2010 at 8:52am
Nice history on the weapons Ron,it's true all regions have different versions all root came from Indonesia and Malayan Island being brought to the North and the Central of Visayas .You've got a lot of collection in there Ron.

Comment by Ron Kosakowski on January 28, 2010 at 9:53am
Thank you! It seems like the history is a little mixed up here and there which makes it a little difficult to find the true facts. But I am persistant.
Comment by Ramyer Asonalleba on January 28, 2010 at 2:44pm
Since from the start of the early civilization, it was very common that the indigenous culture of the Maharlikans are based and settled in fighting. Families begun to forged alliances to stronger families by arranging marriages or by waging their own futile battles, the survivors may be given an option as "Sa-op" which means workers or they be killed instantly if they will not give their allegiance to the chief of the Tribu who protects all those who shelter under their stronghold. After battle, warriors were marked and sometimes their rivals would just lay down their weapons without a fight upon seeing their heavily tattoed body. The first wave of the Spanish Galleons tried to anchor in one of the islands but were meet with spears made in "Bagakays" , a type of bamboo that is known to be very light but rigid. It is also very "Lala" which means it has something that even a small cut will get infected. "Bakhaw" or sea mangroves were also used for it's light but strong and rigidity like steel. These were the famous materials being used as "Bangkaw" or spears. The shields were made of plunk of woods but this woods are not the ordinary kind of woods we know. It is true that there are types of woods in the Visayas Region that are known to be very strong,hard or rigid as steel like "yakal", "Bahi", "Bakhaw","Guod" and it wasn't quite true that the early colonials, when they strike their swords would shattered the shields almost instantly as some f the stories goes. The "Pana" or bows were also very devastating. Up to the present, if you come across to the highlands or the country side in the Philippines (Bukid) most of the people if they're on the field, I am sure they are still tucking their "Sundang", "Pinuti" or "Sanggot" bolos not only part of the daily work routine but for protection. Almost or if not most of the bladed weapons that have survived till present were not really influenced by religion or countries but remember that most of the countries in the Pacific shares the Brown Malay - Astronesian-Polynesian Malayan race which explains that most but if not delimits the language, art and culture but not the religion because of the colonization of different countries. I clearly remembered as part of my childhood spending the whole summer staying with my great grandparents or our ancestral home and suddenly people where running away for somebody just ran "Amok- nag hurimentado" and keep shouting "BONO!!!"PATAY" wearing a red bandana on his forehead and waving his long "Pinuti". The guy already hacked a couple of bystander or just randomly, whoever he met along the way. Unfortunately, the police shot him with a single burst of an AR M16 and accidentally hit some civilians in the process. I guess it wasn't a good thing but it wasn't fatal, but the hacking? ,up to this day I could still visualized the victim and it was a real bad tragedy. Another incident was this people were trying to kill this man and they uses "Indian Pana" or to some people called it "The Rabbit". I can't believe what I saw, still remember this guys name, Emok. Guess it was a bad nature of reality at that period and he got hit all over his body from the neck, front and back side and some of the vital parts and he was covered with blood, dripping all over the floor where the police arm carry him to the municipal hall. I guess up to this date, most people are still using this kind of areal weapon and it is easy to make it. The effective range would vary to the accuracy of the shooter like 10- 20 meters.
Comment by Ron Kosakowski on January 28, 2010 at 10:47pm
That is good info. Thank you. I have seen the Rabbit before somewhere. I just can't remember where.


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