First of two parts
Editors Note: Adrien Pierre Quidlat is co-founder of Blades and Bullets PH, the first force on force school for personal protection established by two professionals with Ilonggo roots.
Doc AA, as he is popularly called, is an orthopedic surgeon who is also a practitioner of Filipino Martial Arts.
Reinier Dave P. Zapanta, educator, FMA instructor, mental health advocate, Filipino traditional blade collector and enthusiast, and dog lover.
Raymundo V. Lucero Jr. started collecting Filipino traditional blades in 2018. He attributes his his blade know-how to Filipino experts based abroad, notably Sali “Style” Nagarajen, Zel Umali, and Braulio Agudelo. Ray’s full-time occupations include working for TaskUs and caring for 3 very active kids.
Compiled by AA Quidlat
Blade culture, a term often thrown around in Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) circles, holds a significant place in the diverse tapestry of Philippine culture. To truly understand the essence of blade culture, we must first acknowledge that the Philippines is not a monolithic society. It is a nation composed of several ethnolinguistic groups, each with its own unique traditions, customs, and languages. Consequently, practices, beliefs, and other aspects related to blades can vary widely from one place to another and from one group of people to another.
In many rural areas, blade culture remains apparent and vibrant to this day. The carrying of a bolo, a versatile machete-like tool, is considered a norm in these regions. Bolos are utilized for clearing trails, chopping wood, and performing various utilitarian tasks. In provinces, it is not uncommon to encounter one out of every five individuals on the streets or in the fields carrying a bolo. The presence of these blades does not raise alarm because it is contextualized within the daily needs of the community. Furthermore, tools such as the itak and bolo are openly sold and recognized as valuable commodities. Although there are laws restricting their public display and carry, the interpretation and implementation of these laws are often influenced by the perception of their utilitarian use. For instance, if a police officer encounters a coconut vendor with a bolo, it does not raise suspicion, as the law specifically exempts certain individuals. Bolos are primarily viewed as tools, and suspicion only arises when they are used for suspicious activities.
However, it is crucial to consider the role of setting and context in shaping the perception of blade culture. In urbanized areas, while bolos are sold, carrying them openly in public is perceived as less socially acceptable. This shift does not imply the disappearance of blade culture; rather, it signifies the impact of urbanization and the growth of other industries and occupations on the practice and perception of carrying blades.
Another aspect to clarify is that Filipino culture is constantly evolving and adapting to the demands of time, influenced by external forces. It is important to recognize that culture should not always be seen as an attempt to recreate past practices. Indigenous medicine, for example, is an integral part of our culture. We acknowledge and document these practices, drawing lessons from them. However, it does not necessitate replacing modern medical practices. Instead, efforts are made to integrate the wisdom of indigenous medicine into modern healthcare, creating a new and holistic approach.