Stories of Sfili (Change): The Gono Temwel (Foundry)

Traditionally, when melting the brass, the Tau Temwel must keep the fire burning steadily by blowing air manually into the kebeng (hearth). An improvised wire brush, called the kais, is used to clean and polish the brass cast products.

Kuya Joel mastered Temwel through these traditional methods. “Sunugon namon ng ligid tapos kuhaon namon ang mga alambre. Higtan na namon para mahimo nga brush kag i-kiskis namon sa produkto,” he recalled. (We set the tires on fire and take the wires out. We tie the wires together and use it to polish our products.)  

sesotunawa stories of change sfili - grinder

In 2010, one of their customers introduced the electric blower and the grinder. He said, “Dako gid ang nabulig sa amon kay mas na pa hapos ang trabaho. Sadto pirti ka budlay kay mag lumubon ka asta gab-i dapat tuloy-tuloy. Tapos pag limpyo budlay man. Taas nga panahon gid ang kinahanglan.” ([Acquiring the tools] really made our work easier. We used to stay up all night to keep the fire burning, and then we had to polish the brass products in the following days. It was exhausting and the process required a lot of time.)

The arrival of Sesotunawa also introduced some improvements to his foundry. He described:

"The foundry slowly improved after Sesotunawa. Selling our products at the right price and engaging directly with the market really helped. With some assistance, we were also able to buy new tools. The Dremel (a rotary tool) that we bought has helped me improve the quality of my products.

I was able to save a small amount of money from selling our brass products on Facebook and in major cities like Davao, Cebu, and Manila. I was able to buy a hand drill, which I use to clean bells, and a sander. I use all these tools to clean my products. I was also able to buy a weighing scale, which I never had before.

Using our savings (Sesotunawa Artisan's Savings Program), we were able to buy a grinder. I also used some of the money as down payment for my motorcycle. It makes buying materials easier.”

He also described the sfili (changes) in the structure of the foundry: “Gamay lang sya [their foundry], tapos naka dikit gid sya sa balay. Ang materyales kay kawayan ang gamit namon, tapos naka dugtong lang sya sa amon balay. ([Our foundry] was small and connected to our homes. We used bamboo as building materials.)

renovated gono temwel foundy - sesotunawa tboli lake sebu

Before COVID-19, I was able to renovate the gono temwel (foundry) with the money I saved from bazaars. I was able to improve the space. We finally have a place to hold meetings and a small room for visitors. I became well-known through Sesotunawa and people started visiting us. We wanted a place for everyone, like the volunteers, to sleep in."

The foundry has undergone quite a few changes over the years. Kuya Joel said, "It is so much better now. It has become more spacious, which makes it more comfortable to work in. The gono temwel used to be made out of bamboo, but now there are hollow blocks.”