Keepers of the sword
POZORRUBIO, Pangasinan — In this northern Pangasinan town, residents playfully call sisters Jasmin and Joyce de Guzman and their mother, Bernardita, “amazons.”
They earned the moniker after they joined a town fiesta parade six years ago dressed like medieval warriors with matching swords slung on their waists.
Today, the label stuck all the more, after Jasmin took over her father’s sword-making business, becoming the town’s first and only woman producer of swords, this town’s “One Town, One Product.”
“It was a very difficult decision for me because it was a choice between my teaching career and this business,” said Jasmin, who had been teaching for eight years at Urdaneta City University.
After taking a leave from teaching for a semester, Jasmin decided to focus on the family business.
“I realized that the legacy left by my father was more important. I can still be a part-time teacher, anyway,” said Jasmin, now the proprietor of Deswordzman Metal Craft.
Joyce helps Jasmin in marketing and promoting their products.
Their father, Filomeno “Boy” de Guzman, first made kitchen knives and bolos in a foundry shop he put up at Barangay Palacpalac here, after he resigned from the defunct Philippine Constabulary in the 1980s.
For want of a bigger market, Jasmin said her father visited an American airman, who was stationed in what was then Clark Air Base in Angeles City. It was during that visit that her father learned that American soldiers liked hunting knives.
When he returned to Angeles, the Americans asked him if he could make customized knives, showing him magazine pictures of models they wanted.
“Then somebody asked him if he could make swords. And that was the start of our sword-making business,” Jasmin said.
The business was first named JJJ Vacia Craft. After her father died in May 2016, the business was named Neneng’s Cutlery, with her eldest brother, Joel de Guzman, at the helm. Joel, however, died in February last year.
Because her mother was already aging, Jasmin had to make the hard decision to continue what her father started that made their hometown known.
“We decided to rename it to Deswordzman to keep the name of my father, a sword maker, alive,” Jasmin said.
During the town fiesta last month, Jasmin opened a new showroom, where village and town officials and representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry had a visual treat of different medieval swords and knives of different sizes that the shop had been exporting to the United States.
These included replicas of swords used in the movies “Braveheart,” “Excalibur,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Joan of Arc,” “Gladiator” and “Zena.”
There was also the “Duterte Sword,” which the De Guzman family handed to President Duterte during his visit to Sual town in 2017.
A 7.62-meter-long sword, which was made in 2011 when the town government declared the swords its primary product, was also on display.
The latest addition in the showroom was a replica of the “Iron Throne” that appeared in the television series “Game of Thrones.”
A giant Excalibur sword still embedded in stone was also unveiled at the showroom’s front yard.
Jasmin said that aside from maintaining the market of the business in the United States, the bigger challenge facing her now was how to make her showroom a tourist destination.
She said the swords on display were not only works of art but good educational materials for history because each sword displayed was accompanied by a short literature.
The showroom is also “Instagrammable,” making it ideal for those who love to instantly post photos on social media.
The foundry shop, just at the back of the showroom, is also open for educational tours, especially for technical-vocational education students, Jasmin said.
“I hope that one day, our showroom will be included in Pangasinan tourism’s itineraries,” she said.
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