Lake Sebu, South Cotabato: The Brass Caster Named Bundos Fara
Travelers love souvenirs. These inanimate storytellers bring life to past journeys, reminding us of beautiful places we’ve seen, interesting experiences we’ve been, and fascinating people we’ve met. One my souvenirs from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato was a teacup-sized ornate bell created by a T’boli artisan with an uttermost commitment to his craft and culture. He is Bundos Fara, brass cutter.
Bundos Fara is a skilled craftsman who turns scraps of metal into fine pieces of ornaments such as my teacup-sized bell. But the meticulous process is not as easy as it sounds. Fara uses traditional methods forged by generations of continuous practice. Brass casting was a trade he learned from his father, who learned from his father. Yes, Bundos Fara is a third generation brass caster. Metal runs in their blood.
A single brass bell, roughly weighing a hundred grams, takes at least 2 days to complete from mold-making to fastening the clapper. To slightly speed up the process, Fara refined his style by replacing the hand-pumped bamboo bellows with a handy electric-powered blower, yet he still uses two old-fashioned kilns about the size of a microwave for most of the baking and melting. Nevertheless, the entire process requires a bucketful of patience, and sacks of charcoal.
Today, Fara’s son takes a few step closer to mastering the trade serving as apprentice to his father – assists the father in the process while the father molds his son to the brass casting craft.
Watching the painstaking process of making a single bell changed the way I look at some souvenirs. I realized the bell doesn’t tell a story about my journey to Lake Sebu, but reflects a story of an old T’boli tradition instead. Its chime resonates the passion of every men and women who dedicate their lives to immortalize age-old crafts, entrusted by one generation to the next, and to the next.
1. Bundos Fara’s workshop is located along the main highway, just before the church, which is located before a Poblacion. You could ask the assistance from the tourism office.
2. Aside from bells, he also makes bangles, gongs, bracelets, and a kris (this one I’ll buy next time).
3. It’s surprising how cheap he sells his products after watching the entire process. I think, a generous tip would be appropriate.
4. Mr. Fara also shared that sometimes he accepts visitors as homestay guest. It would be great if you could give him a heads up.
5.More about Lake Sebu series.
6.More about The 12th Paradise series. Next destinations still in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato: Music In High Frequencies With Ma Fil.
7. More destinations in South Cotabato
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10. Be safe and happy travels.