CALASIAO, Pangasinan, Oct 19 (PIA) — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) – Region I provided financial aid, amounting to P317, 250 to the Aliguas Blacksmith Workers Association (ABWA) in this town recently.
Aside from DOLE’s support, the local government of Calasiao has committed P79, 312.50, making the total P396, 562.50.
The project is envisioned to preserve and improve “pagpapanday” or blacksmithing, an enduring craft and livelihood of the people of Calasiao, said Labor Communications Officer Arly Valdez.
Blacksmithing is labor-intensive, where discarded metal is churned out into bolos by local workers practically with their bare hands.
Scrap metals are first heated on an open fire pit before pounded into the desired shape, thickness, and length following a cardboard pattern.
This craft in Sitio Pandayan in Barangay Gabon, Calasiao is a “golden inheritance” for the 83 members of ABWA. It started before World War II in the town of Binmaley and has passed on through generations.
“It is an occupation which is even older than the legend of Filipino comic character Panday,” quipped Joel Magalong, the association president.
Magalong admitted that a significant portion of their income comes from the fabrication and selling of bolos and swords.
“We were of course very happy when we learned that DOLE gave financial assistance to the association. We know that it is the help that has been lacking in decades of being in this occupation,” Magalong shared.
The members have been engaged individually in blacksmithing since the 1990s. They have organized into the ABWA and registered with DOLE-Region I in September 2011.
DOLE Regional Director Grace Ursua said that the support will bring together DOLE’s social partners like the local government of Calasiao and its Public Employment Services Office, the Department of Trade and Industry, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Department of Science and Technology.
“Specifically, we aim to refine the skills of our blacksmith workers, improve their productivity and competitiveness through the introduction of occupational safety and health in their workshops, productivity enhancement training and hands-on training on bolo and swords making,” Ursua explained.
She said further that the project will help expand the workers’ access to social protection through orientations on PhilHealth and Social Security System.
To instill proper organizational and management values among the association members, they will undergo leadership training, human rights and confidence building, simple bookkeeping and recording.
“We hope to see this local industry transform into a world-class enterprise, not only in terms of its products, but through the institutionalization of decent work in the workshops of our blacksmith workers,” said Ursua. (ANL/AMM-PIA 1 Pangasinan with reports from DOLE)