IN the village, there is a tree particularly sought out by traditional blacksmiths (mun-udi) in forging metals. Its wood is harder compared to other local trees. Once the wood turns into charcoal, it burns longer.
By using this type of wood, the blacksmith conserves the amount of trees to be used in designing several metal outputs.
The gutmu tree (Dacrycarpus imbricatus) is usually found in clayish soil on ridges and on higher elevation. Their leaves are elongated and small. In its early stage, its leaves are one of the colorful ones, turning from yellow to maroon then to green. The gutmu can grow tall depending on their locations and environment. Its fruits are smaller than peas but sweet and colorful.
As children, we used to eat the fruits of the gutmu tree and to paint our faces with its dark and reddish color. And at this time when forest fires are rampant, the gutmu tree remains standing as it is fire-resistant.
Choosing the matured gutmu is a blacksmith skill. Except for its leaves, everything is brought home. Its branches are used to cook in the kitchen, while the stem is chopped and dried under the sun.
Since its wood is harder, it is easier for drying. Once dried, it is now ready for its
Using a community-made blacksmith blower, the pile of gutmu is slowly turned into charcoal.
The metal is also covered until it is ready to be forged. In the village, most blacksmiths make small to big knives. They also repair tools used in the agricultural cycle. It can take three days to a week to perfectly make a knife, depending on the pace of the blacksmith.
In the past, blacksmiths could accept orders from their neighbors. Today, extra products can be sold in the market. It is hard work to produce even a small knife.
When buying one, think of the time and effort put into making one, and perhaps this will keep you from haggling. Besides, you do not buy knives every day. Patronizing their products is also helping the blacksmith and their families to put food on the table.
Time is also changing. If my memory is correct, there are only three traditional blacksmiths left in the village but only one is still active. In between agricultural cycles, he spends time doing his craft.
For how long, I am not sure. He told me that his body can no longer cope with the rigors of blacksmithing.
If this happens, the relationship between the gutmu tree and the mun-udi will come to an end in the village. No other people in the community value the gutmu tree more than the mun-udi.
Maybe this is one reason, aside from climatic and topography, on why gutmu are having difficulty growing the tree near the residential areas (boble) despite attempts of transplanting.
Well, when the village’s mun-udi will all be gone, the gutmu will always remind us that at one point of the community life, the tree was instrumental in the production of shiny and sharp knives used in all kinds of traditions, especially in the preparation of meat (dotag) for the community feast (hamul).