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Old 20th February 2019, 10:55 PM   #1
ShazamsLaw
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Default Any sources on non-moro Philippine forging?

I'm not sure if this was brought up before but, seems to be a narrative around that the best or working Filipino blades are only of moro origin....

That the use of cast iron along with the forging skills of Visayans/Luzon produced brittle and low quality swords in comparison their "cultured" neighbors.

I'm not exactly familiar with the quality of these historical Filipino blades but understanding whether these claims are false or not is a controversy that I hope can be resolved.
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Old 21st February 2019, 05:07 PM   #2
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I don't know who tells such wrong stories! Visayan blades are very well made, sometimes laminated and can't remember to have seen much cheap made Visayan blades. Who tell you something like this?

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 21st February 2019, 05:30 PM   #3
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I certainly agree with Sajen here. Though I love them myself, I have seen some Moro blades that would definitely disappoint whoever told you that.
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Old 21st February 2019, 07:58 PM   #4
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Hello SL,

Quote:
seems to be a narrative around that the best or working Filipino blades are only of moro origin....

That the use of cast iron along with the forging skills of Visayans/Luzon produced brittle and low quality swords in comparison their "cultured" neighbors.

I'm having a deja vu moment...

Please have a look at this thread: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=23453

I'm not sure who continues to spread this myth that Filipino blades were subpar - it sure ain't folks who seriously studied antique blades from all those cultures!

Regards,
Kai

Last edited by kai : 21st February 2019 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 21st February 2019, 08:07 PM   #5
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Deja vu indeed Kai.
I was looking at this post in the queue and wondering if it might just be intended to be provocative in nature being such a generalization.

I'd love to hear the rationale behind this post.

Last edited by Rick : 21st February 2019 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 21st February 2019, 09:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShazamsLaw
I don't recall Visayan blades having that type of quality steel. More or less they mostly worked with iron "as breakable as glass" which they imported from china.


The above quote is from another thread, discussing a "Giant Tenegre".
The statement was so preposterous that I just ignored it.

Shazam, where do you get your information from?
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Old 21st February 2019, 09:29 PM   #7
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Hello Rick,

Quote:
I was looking at this post in the queue and wondering if it might just be intended to be provocative in nature being such a generalization.

I'd love to hear the rationale behind this post.

Seems like the "bad press" got widely distributed; would be interesting to hear whether the current question got based on the same sources already quoted in the old thread or whether it's still going virulent?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 21st February 2019, 09:41 PM   #8
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To sum up my earlier comments in the thread cited above:

There always were low quality blades, in all cultures (including medieval Japan, Europe, etc.); good craftmanship and, especially, quality materials were just too expensive for less affluent strata of any traditional society.

There always were high quality blades in all ethnic groups throughout the Philippines (as well as most Indonesian regions). There are enough surviving antique examples from any of these groups which attest to the bladesmithing skills of their ancestors.

There certainly are antique Moro blades of lousy quality found, too.

Cast steel was economically produced in China and widely exported all over Southeast Asia (and beyond). This steel was of lesser quality - it can be improved upon by skilled blacksmithing though. Like with locally produced bloomery steel, this processing costs resources (fuel, considerable loss of material, labor & time) and may be cut short when trying to work for a heavily limited budget...

And it should be noted that the Moro also imported steel from China and a notable amount of barung blades even got trademarked with (often fake) Chinese marks. Seems that the source of the steel did not necessarily resulted in subpar blades...

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Kai
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Old 22nd February 2019, 02:10 AM   #9
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Hello all,

I do wonder if the number of WWII and later Vasayan talibongs (usually of low quality, and made for those who travel) is impacting the perception of Vasayan smiths here?

Perhaps the same is true of the ubiquitous "negrito bolo" blades from Luzon.

This is not to say that there aren't low quality, more modern, Moro blades. However, despite being someone who often bargain hunts on a certain auction site, I don't see these nearly as often as I see lower quality blades from the Vasayans or Luzon.

Even when a high quality (say a pre-WWI garab, or a Katipunan dagger) does come on the market, the ending price is often significantly higher than a (roughly) equivalent Moro piece.

So maybe the market that buyers, especially newer collectors, are seeing is influencing perception?

Have fun,
Leif
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Old 22nd February 2019, 06:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafngard
Hello all,

I do wonder if the number of WWII and later Vasayan talibongs (usually of low quality, and made for those who travel) is impacting the perception of Vasayan smiths here?

Perhaps the same is true of the ubiquitous "negrito bolo" blades from Luzon.

This is not to say that there aren't low quality, more modern, Moro blades. However, despite being someone who often bargain hunts on a certain auction site, I don't see these nearly as often as I see lower quality blades from the Vasayans or Luzon.

Even when a high quality (say a pre-WWI garab, or a Katipunan dagger) does come on the market, the ending price is often significantly higher than a (roughly) equivalent Moro piece.

So maybe the market that buyers, especially newer collectors, are seeing is influencing perception?

Have fun,
Leif


Hi Leif,

Allow me to share you what I know of the current PH traditional blade (tradblades) market. When I say tradblades, these are ethnographic weapons, not reproductions. All the modern ones I've held retain the 'feel' consistent with vintage and antique reproductions.

For Luzon and Visayas, the market for traditional fighting blades lags greatly behind reproduction blades. The area that shines are utility tradblades.

However, in Mindanao, modern trad fighting blades still abound, and are much sought-after.

Now, let's move on to the vintage and antique pieces. Vintage and antique pieces remaining in PH are few and far between, so when one encounters a vintage/antique, it's usually overpriced, much more than its usual selling price on eBay. Also, vintage/antique pieces are usually Moro in origin; it's difficult to search for Luzon- or Visayas-specific vintage/antique tradblades.

This is the reason why many collectors, at least in my age range, choose to collect modern tradblades. Aside from the shortage of vintage/antique supply, pricing of modern tradblades are easier on the wallet. Plus there are impressively built modern tradblades that handle almost the same as vintage/antique pieces.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 07:38 PM   #11
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This thread concept like a bad penny will continue to turn up. Like a bad penny it's sorta interesting but not worth spending much time on.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 11:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShazamsLaw
... seems to be a narrative around that the best or working Filipino blades are only of moro origin....
Hi SL,

As others have noted, the premise of your question is not true. If you look on this site, you will find excellent examples of recently made as well as antique/vintage examples of non-Moro weapons that show great skill in their manufacture and decoration. Not only Visayan and Luzon examples, but also pieces from the Lumad (non-Christian/non-Muslim) tribes of Mindanao. I've not seen the comments you mention about non-Moro weapons. Where have you found them?

Ian.
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Old 23rd February 2019, 01:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShazamsLaw
I'm not sure if this was brought up before but, seems to be a narrative around that the best or working Filipino blades are only of moro origin....

That the use of cast iron along with the forging skills of Visayans/Luzon produced brittle and low quality swords in comparison their "cultured" neighbors.

I'm not exactly familiar with the quality of these historical Filipino blades but understanding whether these claims are false or not is a controversy that I hope can be resolved.


I think the keywords you should watch out for here is "I'm not exactly familiar with the quality of these historical Filipino blades..."

Let's use Occam's razor. Why are there so many Luzon and Visayan vintage and antique items still in circulation? Because they withstood the test of time. Is that an indicator of quality? In my opinion, yes. The swords on e-bay weren't exactly kept in a locker to age by themselves- all of them underwent actual use. In the 1800s-1900s, display swords were not fashionable in our country, for the simple reason that people can't afford them. If you had a sword made during those times, you were expected to use them- and use them they did, mostly for community and regional conflicts, even full-scale world war.

I invite you to take a look at modern-day ethnographic Filipino weapons at https://web.facebook.com/Filipino-T...99561170798116/
After you've scrolled for a while, let me know if you think those blades are 'low quality'.
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Old 25th February 2019, 08:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi SL,

As others have noted, the premise of your question is not true. If you look on this site, you will find excellent examples of recently made as well as antique/vintage examples of non-Moro weapons that show great skill in their manufacture and decoration. Not only Visayan and Luzon examples, but also pieces from the Lumad (non-Christian/non-Muslim) tribes of Mindanao. I've not seen the comments you mention about non-Moro weapons. Where have you found them?

Ian.



Ian,

I think this stigma comes from how Filipino blades aren't seen on the same level as other asian blades with only the moro weapons being the exception. From sources that I have seen from books such as William Henrys Scotts Barangay, he describes the cast iron used by Visayan smiths as easy to break as glass which is something the Visayans were not able to get around to as their technology in blacksmith didn't allow swords to be anything outside the short heavy agriculture tool that would mainly be designed as a weapon.
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Old 4th March 2019, 07:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kino
The above quote is from another thread, discussing a "Giant Tenegre".
The statement was so preposterous that I just ignored it.

Shazam, where do you get your information from?



There is a source from a document on the pre-hispanic blades of Filipinos by William Henry Scott recorded in his book "Barangay"

It was recorrded in his book that the major source of iron used was cast iron which was imported from China.
This type of iron was described by Bornean pilot to be "as easy to break as glass with any blow they give it" which William believes to be only a slight exaggeration. Never the less, cast iron is a type of metal considered to be to be the best fit for making swords and tools.
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Old 6th March 2019, 12:51 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafngard
Hello all,

I do wonder if the number of WWII and later Vasayan talibongs (usually of low quality, and made for those who travel) is impacting the perception of Vasayan smiths here?

Perhaps the same is true of the ubiquitous "negrito bolo" blades from Luzon.

This is not to say that there aren't low quality, more modern, Moro blades. However, despite being someone who often bargain hunts on a certain auction site, I don't see these nearly as often as I see lower quality blades from the Vasayans or Luzon.

Even when a high quality (say a pre-WWI garab, or a Katipunan dagger) does come on the market, the ending price is often significantly higher than a (roughly) equivalent Moro piece.

So maybe the market that buyers, especially newer collectors, are seeing is influencing perception?

Have fun,
Leif


Hi Leif,

Would like to inquire which talibong we are talking about. If we're talking about the Panay talibongs, an Ilonggo blade expert explained to me that the reason for the relatively not-so-sturdy construction of the whole sword was because aside from the blade itself, the other parts were meant to be easily replaceable; thus the sword is easily 'reborn' from any damage of previous battles. On hindsight, this may also have enabled easier customization (think lego blocks, especially the figural-hilts).

With regard to the so-called Leyte talibong (the fat belly guy), research is still being done on what exactly that sword is. The history of that sword is a bit murky; I've done some historical research myself and it's not explicitly stated in the earliest documents (1906 onwards) that was the exact weapon that the Pulahan/Pulajan/Pulahanes used.

With regards to Luzon- have any of you ever wondered why there's a shortage of Minasbad blades even on online auction sites? Something to think about.

But I'm already digressing from the main point. Hope this info on the Panay talibong is of help.
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Old 6th March 2019, 12:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShazamsLaw
There is a source from a document on the pre-hispanic blades of Filipinos by William Henry Scott recorded in his book "Barangay"

It was recorrded in his book that the major source of iron used was cast iron which was imported from China.
This type of iron was described by Bornean pilot to be "as easy to break as glass with any blow they give it" which William believes to be only a slight exaggeration. Never the less, cast iron is a type of metal considered to be to be the best fit for making swords and tools.


Hi Shazam,

With all due respect to sir Henry Scott, there's been much criticism from academicians regarding his claims / interpretation of pre-colonial Philippine history. Personally, I take it with a grain of salt, as what he's based it on isn't in turn verified by historians as authentic, definite documents. There have been instances before when fake documents are taken as 'authentic'- see the Code of Maragtas regarding this.

I think the best basis for discussion here, and the most tangible as well, would be to assess the oldest Philippine blades that have been shown in this forum.
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Old 6th March 2019, 06:17 PM   #18
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We have discussed not long ago the exceptional tenegre from our member Roland, see here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ghlight=tenegre
At end of this thread Roland mentioned already that it is a wootz blade, I've seen the sword not long ago in person, like Ian in the above thread I was more as doubtfully that this could be possible. But to my great surprise I have to agree, the blade is wootz!
Here with the permission from Roland a close-up picture taken as documentation for the restoration steps.
So bad are Visayan blades!
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Old 6th March 2019, 06:19 PM   #19
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Soon as Roland has finished his work will follow more and better pictures!
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Old 6th March 2019, 06:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xasterix
Hi Shazam,

With all due respect to sir Henry Scott, there's been much criticism from academicians regarding his claims / interpretation of pre-colonial Philippine history. Personally, I take it with a grain of salt, as what he's based it on isn't in turn verified by historians as authentic, definite documents. There have been instances before when fake documents are taken as 'authentic'- see the Code of Maragtas regarding this.

I think the best basis for discussion here, and the most tangible as well, would be to assess the oldest Philippine blades that have been shown in this forum.


I've actually never heard of any criticism towards Scott's works, in fact he was the one that debunked the Code of Maragtas or "code of kalantiaw". When Scott was examining prehispanic sources for the study of Philippine history he demonstrated that the code was a forgery committed by Marco. He even published his findings debunking the code in his book Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History.

Under what topic or source had historians took Williams claims into questioning?
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Old 6th March 2019, 11:21 PM   #21
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I also wonder if folks think that since northern blades are not laminated like the southern blades, they must be scrap crap. The problem with this is that the Spanish and others shared techniques that refined steel to better tolerances than the south, and thus no need for the type of laminations that were needed by the southern Philippines, Indonesia, and even Malaysia needed at one time.

What also made this worse is the use in WWII of leaf spring steel for blades (which oddly enough is not bad steel).
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Old 7th March 2019, 03:11 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
I also wonder if folks think that since northern blades are not laminated like the southern blades, they must be scrap crap. The problem with this is that the Spanish and others shared techniques that refined steel to better tolerances than the south, and thus no need for the type of laminations that were needed by the southern Philippines, Indonesia, and even Malaysia needed at one time.

What also made this worse is the use in WWII of leaf spring steel for blades (which oddly enough is not bad steel).



I think by the time Filipinos started using spanish steel, the use of swords mostly as weapons have died off as it was preferred that the natives and spainards used rifles or guns to fight the moros.
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Old 7th March 2019, 06:23 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
I also wonder if folks think that since northern blades are not laminated like the southern blades, they must be scrap crap. The problem with this is that the Spanish and others shared techniques that refined steel to better tolerances than the south, and thus no need for the type of laminations that were needed by the southern Philippines, Indonesia, and even Malaysia needed at one time.

What also made this worse is the use in WWII of leaf spring steel for blades (which oddly enough is not bad steel).


Battara, I'm afraid like my bad penny analogy earlier the dreaded laminated vs mono steel will keep coming up. Laminate looks cooler than mono steel but that is really all it has going for it. Laminate as you mentioned came about as a necessity, the available steel was rare and the other metal was not very good. So combined they made something useful. Unfortunately many are still enamored by magic and ignore technology. I still hear that today's current smiths cannot do what the smiths of history did. Ancient lost secrets and all that. It's usually debated by those that are mostly clueless about metallurgy. The heat treat is more important than the steel. But that's a discussion for another day. For the record leaf springs are usually 5160 steel. Philippines smiths (the more modern ones) like to use ball bearings which are 52100.
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Old 7th March 2019, 06:56 PM   #24
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Oh I agree. During WWII and earlier ball bearings were not as plentiful as spring steel. Yes good iron ore was hard to find and thus laminations of poorer steel with better steel. And the north had access to better steel in general.

Yeah today even better steel is available.

And in Sulu region they still make laminated blades to this day (I had one once).
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Old 9th March 2019, 06:02 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mross
Battara, I'm afraid like my bad penny analogy earlier the dreaded laminated vs mono steel will keep coming up. Laminate looks cooler than mono steel but that is really all it has going for it. Laminate as you mentioned came about as a necessity, the available steel was rare and the other metal was not very good. So combined they made something useful. Unfortunately many are still enamored by magic and ignore technology. I still hear that today's current smiths cannot do what the smiths of history did. Ancient lost secrets and all that. It's usually debated by those that are mostly clueless about metallurgy. The heat treat is more important than the steel. But that's a discussion for another day. For the record leaf springs are usually 5160 steel. Philippines smiths (the more modern ones) like to use ball bearings which are 52100.



I think the assertion is right that Filipino "steel" was faulty in comparison to their asian and moro counterparts. Moro weapons have always been compared to spanish, japanese and even other european blades. However barely if any Filipinos blades are even looked at by the Spanish or Americans. In fact during te Fil-Am war, most Americans were scared of the Moros as opposed to Filipinos wielding knives.
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Old 10th March 2019, 06:16 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaharlikaTimawa
I think the assertion is right that Filipino "steel" was faulty in comparison to their asian and moro counterparts. Moro weapons have always been compared to spanish, japanese and even other european blades. However barely if any Filipinos blades are even looked at by the Spanish or Americans. In fact during te Fil-Am war, most Americans were scared of the Moros as opposed to Filipinos wielding knives.


Hi I'm sorry, but with regard to the Filipino American war, I must strongly disagree with your assertion. The Americans had great difficulty in securing the Leyte/Samar areas due to the bolo-wielding Pulahanes and their crescent talibongs, to the extent that the real casualty count of American soldiers had to be censored, and the death toll of Filipino rebels falsely increased just to avoid demoralization of American troops. I have a ton of historical references and footnotes regarding this, if you need further proof.
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Old 10th March 2019, 06:21 AM   #27
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Sorry I don't usually snap, but as someone who collects Luzon and Visayan swords, may I point out that the Katipunan pieces are highly prized and, I think, of a quality level that at least equals that of the Mindanao, while with regard to Visayas, eBay is filled with tons of Pulahan weapons and Panay blades that survived the war or were given as bringbacks. The survival of these weapons until now is, I believe, enough proof that that these were in no way inferior than their Moro counterparts.
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Old 10th March 2019, 11:24 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by xasterix.
I point out that the Katipunan pieces are highly prized and, I think, of a quality level that at least equals that of the Mindanao



I totally agree, here is one of those "inferior" Luzon blades where I would say the quality of both workmanship and materials used is equal to or better than any Moro pieces I have ever owned or so far seen.

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Old 12th March 2019, 12:00 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xasterix
Hi I'm sorry, but with regard to the Filipino American war, I must strongly disagree with your assertion. The Americans had great difficulty in securing the Leyte/Samar areas due to the bolo-wielding Pulahanes and their crescent talibongs, to the extent that the real casualty count of American soldiers had to be censored, and the death toll of Filipino rebels falsely increased just to avoid demoralization of American troops. I have a ton of historical references and footnotes regarding this, if you need further proof.



I would like to see those sources.
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Old 12th March 2019, 02:11 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaharlikaTimawa
I think the assertion is right that Filipino "steel" was faulty in comparison to their asian and moro counterparts. Moro weapons have always been compared to spanish, japanese and even other european blades. However barely if any Filipinos blades are even looked at by the Spanish or Americans. In fact during te Fil-Am war, most Americans were scared of the Moros as opposed to Filipinos wielding knives.


I agree with the Moro comparisons. I have a Moro blade whose steel looks every bit like a Japanese blade (minus the visible hada and hamon, which is a product of polish technique, the Moro's used a much different technique than the Japanese) I sorta disagree with the last part. Collectiblity has very little to do with quality and more to do with what is currently "hot". Give it time and Filipino blades may be the next big thing. (If I could predict what is collectible, I would be fabulously wealthy and to busy to do this. )
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