Problem sorted (hopefully).

I have been bemoaning the appalling state of the internet connection here recently, and it really has been bad but it appears it was not so much to do with the connection as a matter of simple theft.  Someone locally (I have my suspicions who) has basically been downloading huge amounts of data by piggy-backing off the connection here and effectively stealing the bandwidth.  I have seen the printout and it is horrendous but hpefully sorted now with a change of password and so forth.

Last time I spoke of the fairly ubiquitous skill of scaling a 30 or 40 foot coconut tree in about three seconds flat to harvest buko.  This post deals with a much less common skill which is even more impressive.

I have mentioned paraws and banquas before which are two different styles of outrigger boats common all round the Pacific and constructed, to a great extent, of wood and bamboo.  The outriggers are basically held onto the hull by long pieces of bamboo which appaear, against all the laws of nature, to have 90 degree bends in them.  I had wondered how this was achieved and now I know.  Let me enlighten you.

My mate, Canadian Mike, was having a small banqua constructed and asked me one day if I fancied going a short way down the road to the barangay (district) of Sacsac to see how his bamboo outrigger poles were coming along.  Naturally, I agreed in a heartbeat.

After yet another bit of offroading on sand (I hate riding on sand) we were down by the ocean and greeted with this sight.  We had timed it nicely as there is a lot of sitting around waiting in this profession and we had caught the old guy actually bending the bamboo.

Bamboo bending, Negros.
The "old guy", who was probably a lot younger than me, was as tough as nails with not a pick of fat on him.  He was terribly friendly though and didn't seem put off by me sticking my camera all over the place, I think he found it quite amusing.

Weighting system.
The first image here shows the general principle.  The bamboo is bent using a pretty basic set of weights (rocks) and then burnt along the bend using a torch composed of dried leaves soaked in kerosene.  I thought they would have burnt out in seconds but they seemed to last pretty well.  One end of the bamboo pole is wedged in a hole dug at the base of the tree as you can see.  It is all very simple and has no doubt been done like this for years, but it does seem to work.

Dousing the flames.
When the craftsman has decided enough fire has been applied and after adjusting the weights, he takes to it with a water soaked rag on a pole as you can see in this image.

Shaving the bamboo.
When the bamboo has hung long enough to take the bend intitially, it is then moved to a wooden frame from where the young assistant takes to it and "peels" it with a very simple spokeshave type device.  It is all very labour intensive but fascinating to watch.

Bamboo drying and forming.
 After being "shaved" or "peeled" (I have heard both terms used), the bamboo is then left on another frame to take on the shape permanently.  I really have no idea how long this takes.  These are the four poles that will attach the outriggers to Mike's banqua and, as you can see, they are a lot smaller than the ones being worked on in the previous images.

The guys actually took these off as I watched and walked them up to the main road where Mike lashed them to the top of a trike and took them to his boatbuilder up near Dumaguete although why they didn't use this magnificent wheelbarrow is a mystery to me!

Wheelbarrow, Negros, Philippines.
I just could not resist taking a photo of this, it was so unusual and serves to show how absolutely nothing is wasted here.

I was so glad I got to see this process as I suppose it is a thing not many casual tourists get to see and I love observing old skills like this.  No doubt there is a machine that will do this in about half the time and far cheaper but I do like the idea of traditional crafts being kept alive either at home or overseas.

I have to dash now but as it appears the internet is sorted hopefuly I can add more posts later today.

Stay tuned.

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