(peaceful music) - My name is Francisco Cruz Lizama, and I am the last master blacksmith in Guam.
(peaceful music) (grinder whirring) I think I've been teaching blacksmith now for over 35 years.
Usually our military, okay.
Military, they learn basic blacksmith and then they leave, this, then it's over.
The future of blacksmith here in Guam is very important because if we don't continue, local people, this thing will die.
Just like it died in the Northern Marianas.
Because nobody was taught and I hope one or two, even one or two, as long as they continue, our job is done.
(truck engine revving) In the olden times, there's no money, and we have to clean the land, dig hole, cut the, the trees and all that with a machete, and the fusinos.
It's the most important thing that a person should have because it identifies how you are gonna support your family.
Now let's say for example, a young man is interested in a young woman, and they go and approach the father, they have to approach the father, and say I'm very interested in your daughter.
Come back in one year.
In the meantime, this guy would start showing off the clinking of the machete so that the father can hear that he's got a good machete.
They cut fire wood, after he does that, he carries the wood, and just drop it in front.
In other words, brown nosing, that I can do this.
When he comes back the second year, I said, "do you still like my daughter?"
The young man says, "I'm very sure."
Come back in another year.
Now, you have to remember that's two years already.
If that was me, I would quit.
Two years, again, everything is happening, everything is just for the father, just for the father.
He comes back and everything is already solid with the father.
In the evening, they sit down and invite the young man to sit on the mat, and one of the youngest daughter would take the lamp and shine the light on the knee of that man.
If the knee does not have any scar or anything, he's not a very good worker.
You know, you have the scar because either your trip while working or things like that.
So then, they're allowed to get married.
(upbeat music) A blacksmith makes everything.
He's the most important person in the community because whatever they want, and he can make it, he will make it.
They call it hererro.
- World War II changed everything, but prior to the war, people lived a very kind of pastoral life.
A typical day would be to get up early in the morning, prepare some food for those who were gonna go to the gualo.
If family members were going fishing, they would go early in the morning, sometimes before dawn to, to refish.
So, people just worked the land, and there was very little money exchange, it was not a wage-based economy prior to the, prior to the second world war.
- I mean, as, as soon as the American tank moved out of the way, the American bulldozer was right behind.
So, first the work of destruction, but right on the heels of that was the work of construction.
Not the civilian life, military life, right?
Of course, civilian life too, but the focus was the, the military build-up of Guam right after the American return.
So, there were so many jobs available that even the local population couldn't satisfy that need for labor that you start having Camp Roxas.
- Arable lands were taken by eminent domain for military installations.
There was a huge military population that needed to be sustained, and so Guam quickly made the shift from a barter agricultural kind of economy to a wage-based economy.
- So military jobs, civilian government jobs, paychecks, eight-to-five, people moved off the farms.
Well, what farms were left?
Especially when the military takes over a third of the island, you know, and a lot of the, what the military took were the prime agricultural land - Chamorros began to, to work for a living, for a wage, and they were taken away from their farms, their farms were taken away from them, and so there was very little land to, to farm after the war, And then as the, as the military population grew, lots of services began to emerge, like gas stations, restaurants, barber shops, laundries, and so the whole economy of Guam changed, and the relationship of Chamorros with the land was forever changed.
(peaceful music) (metal file scraping) - I was at the morning flower shop and I met him, I always wanted to meet him because I understand that he's a master blacksmith, and so when I met him, I asked him, I said, "Mr. Lujan, I'm very interested in learning how to be a blacksmith."
So I said, "why don't you ask for a grant and teach us how to become blacksmith?"
That's how we started.
Tun Jack is a very, very knowledgeable man.
He knows what he is doing.
He learned it from his father.
He doesn't play around.
We play around, we stop.
So, he disciplined us not to fool around.
We do not use any machinery.
Everything is by hand and he teach us, first of all, to pound the metal, we hit the metal and pound it.
Keep on pounding it until we get the desired shape of the machete.
When we get the desired shape of the machete, and then the, we dip it oil.
When it's tempered, it's ready to go.
We make the final, final cleaning and everything before we call it a finished machete.
And, the interesting part about the machete is the song it sings.
(machete clinking) That's a very good machete, very good machete.
- We can't survive in an island without a machete.
So, it's a survival tool, you know, whether or not we use it for our survival in, in the (indistinct), which is the jungle, right?
Or whether we use it in our clearing, clearing our, our lancho, or our, our gualo, but these are tools that, that have tremendous value.
- It's a matter of pride, and it's a matter of identity to keep these things.
There's no harm in me keeping my 50 year old tieras pugua, you know, it might need some cleaning from the rust, but, you know, when I cut my pugua that way, I am experiencing what my grandmother experienced, and so, it's a relived experience as opposed to using any old knife and whack the pugua that way, you know.
- Over the past few years, there's been a real resurgence and interest in the cultural identity, and that translates into young people wanting to find out what that identity is.
How, how, how do I get to that feeling of Chamorro-ness, that feeling of cultural identity.
And if they, they have an opportunity to learn how to make a canoe, then they're gonna say, "yeah, this is part of my cultural identity.
I, you know, I can get on a, get on a canoe and sail out in the, the ocean just like my ancestors did."
To a certain extent, I think blacksmithing is the same thing.
Young guys, especially, are interested in being able to flex a little bit and to master something.
Well, that's what blacksmithing is all about.
Imposing your will on a piece of iron to make it go where you want it to go, and be able to do what you want it to do.
So, when, when young, Chamorro guys gain some skill and are able to, to go from a leaf spring to a machete, they're saying, "oh man, I can, I can do this."
And this is the, this is the essential tool of my culture.
- Apprentices are very, very dedicated.
A matter of fact, they're so dedicated that they do, do the way I did it without machinery.
You have to pound.
You have to learn how to do it like old times.
- Well, I think it's very important to keep a lot of the crafts and our traditions alive so that my children, their children have something to go back on and reflect on how things were in the past, improve on things that were from the past to make 'em better, but still learn from what we, what we've, what we've done in blacksmithing and weaving in any of the cultural arts, so that we keep, that we keep our culture alive.
- I will continue to blacksmith, and hopefully my sons will carry on when I'm gone.
I will continue until I die.
I love making things too.
And it, it fills my heart with, with gladness that I am bringing back the culture of the Chamorro people.
(peaceful music) ♪ Long ago we sailed the open seas ♪ ♪ Guided by the light of the heavenlies ♪ ♪ I can hear them ♪ ♪ Calling out to me ♪ ♪ Lord I know my heart's a heavy stone ♪ ♪ Weathered by the beating of the shore ♪ ♪ Tethered to an ever sinking hope ♪ ♪ Well the road is long ♪ ♪ And there are many miles ahead ♪ ♪ And the moon is high ♪ ♪ But I remember what you said ♪ ♪ I'm givin' it time ♪ ♪ I'm givin' it faith ♪ ♪ I'm givin' it more than I ever did today ♪ ♪ No turnin' around ♪ ♪ No givin' in ♪ (peaceful music) ♪ Weightless as a bird ♪ ♪ Wave your worries ♪ ♪ Here take me at my word ♪ ♪ Oh there's nothing left to fear ♪ ♪ Well the road is long ♪ ♪ There are many miles ahead ♪ ♪ And the moon is high ♪ ♪ But I won't forget what you said ♪ ♪ I'm givin' it time ♪ ♪ I'm givin' it faith ♪ ♪ I'm givin' it more than I ever did take ♪ ♪ I'm willing to run ♪ ♪ I'm willing to wait ♪ ♪ No matter the price ♪ ♪ I'm willing to bear ♪ ♪ No turnin' around ♪ ♪ We'll never give up ♪ ♪ Oh, ohh.
♪ ♪ Ohh.