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Marianas Variety: Guam master blacksmith makes presentation at NMC (October 12, 2016)

GUAM master blacksmith Francisco Lizama explained how quality machetes are made during a presentation at Northern Marianas College on Tuesday.

During the Festival of Pacific Arts on Guam in June, he said, he sold 20 machetes, mostly to off-islanders. His machetes cost $300 to $500 each.

Lizama showed the NMC students a 100-year-old machete handed down by the father of his mentor, master blacksmith Jack Lujan.

“This is an antique — it’s priceless,” he said.

According to Lizama, he would like to conduct a free class on Saipan, but it should be limited to six individuals.

He wants to revive blacksmithing on Saipan.

“The art of blacksmithing is not limited to males,” he said, as he encouraged woman to take part in the class.

He said blacksmithing is an art involving metal — and coal.

“You have to learn how to burn coal,” he said, adding that the smell of burning coal is like a perfume to him ow.

If the Northern Marianas Humanities Council grant application is approved, blacksmith students in the CNMI will be provided with the materials needed in class, he said.

Because there’s no coal on Saipan they have to order it abroad, he added.

Past blacksmiths on Saipan used coal buried in what is now the Mt. Carmel grounds, Lizama said.

After his presentation at NMC, Lizama and Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council Chair Antonia Tudela proceeded to Tinian for another presentation.

Tudela said the presentations aim to raise awareness about the role played by blacksmithing in Marianas history and culture.

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