Tau Temwel Featuring Joel Blunto

Joel Blunto is a 39-year old Tau Temwel from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. As a young boy, he started learning Temwel from watching and helping his grandmother roll wax and cast brass in her workshop. What started as a playground for Joel turned into an actual workshop. He grew into one of the best Tboli brass casters in Lake Sebu since his products stand out from the others. Kuya Joel has 11 siblings, all of them are doing Temwel, but according to a family legend, only Joel can successfully melt broken gongs and upcycle it to other products without getting sick as gongs are considered sacred.

Today, Joel is Sesotunawa’s master brass caster. He leads the design and quality control for Sesotunawa and produces the bestselling Temwel pieces. His home and workshop sit on top of a hill that gives him an unobstructed view of the lake. Naturally, one of the first Sesotunawa accessories we sold is the L’wok Sbu ring. The ring takes the form of a single water ripple observed on the glass-like surface of the lake when it is disturbed.

Before Sesotunawa, Joel was heavily involved in the education of the young Tboli by co-creating a brass casting curriculum for a Lumad senior high school in his community. With this, Joel is able to secure that brass casting lives on for more generations to come.
In one of our conversations with Kuya Joel, he shared that his dream is to access a wider market, so he can go back to a remote community in Lake Sebu where more Tau Temwel are found. One of his goals is to share his experiences and order load so he can give back to his roots and help other brass casters hone their skills and eventually improve their lives.
Words by Oni Montejo
Photos by Oni Montejo, Angely Chi, and Gabs Sagaral