Last week, we were up in Abulug for a hearing related to Juanito. Earlier in the week, Rebecca broke the clasp on a gold bracelet, and she wanted to get it fixed.
Meet Mr. Rudy Lucero. Manong Rudy is Ballesteros’ resident blacksmith and goldsmith. It may seem strange to visit a blacksmith in order to have jewelry fixed, given that a blacksmith’s art is normally associated with tough, rough fabrication such as manufacturing horseshoes or swords, rather than the delicate work associated with a necklace.
However, the two arts are not that dissimilar, both requiring substantial knowledge about metals, their properties, and how they are altered.
In Ballesteros, there are some horses, particularly a few calesas, in town, and Manong Rudy serves their owners’ needs. The region is also known for being an agricultural region: on more than one occasion he has had to fabricate a plow blade or repair heavy steel parts to a tractor.
A step into his shop is like stepping back into time:
- A hot, coal-fired forge.
- A big, steel anvil.
- Drills powered by a bow… Yes, you read that right. A bow.
- An assortment of menacing-looking hand tools like hammers, chisels.
- A jeweler’s work table, with magnifying lenses, small crucibles, and ancient hand tools that most likely have not been manufactured for decades.
Rudy’s tools were passed down through the generations. He is of advanced age, and when he someday passes, Ballesteros will be missing an artisan. The type of craftsmanship that used to be common. The type of workmanship that is increasingly hard to find, done with pride and quality. This is one of the things that is still common in the Philippines.
The total cost for the bracelet repair?
Two minutes and 50 pesos.