Until recently, I’ve never known nanchaku, nanchuks, or even tabak-toyok by any other name than tsako, chako, or chaku. Ask any man on the streets of Manila and more often than not, they’ll identify them as such.
I was surprised to learn that it was a tool used by Filipino farmers. “Really? I’ve always thought that they were weapons, from China!”
Master Cris said that in Davao, they would dry rice grains in the sun for several weeks and then thresh them with tsako.
My friend Eli, an agriculturist working at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, confirmed it but said that farmers no longer use tsako now. Farmers now have threshing machines or if not, they use the traditional but easier method of “threshing grains with their feet.”
Anyway, he tried to demonstrate how to thresh with tsako but because of my zero farming background, I couldn’t visualize it.
Now here’s serendipity: One day I was in a bookstore leafing through a Tagalog Bible comic book about Gideon, the Mighty Warrior of Israel when I saw an illustration of him threshing grains using what looked like a tsako!
You hold one stick and flail the other one against the grains!
I don’t know if it was just a Filipino illustrator’s rendering of the Biblical account, “Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress”. Do you suppose ancient Isrealites had tsako as well?
Anyway, what’s important is I now know more about this farm tool/weapon.
That, I believe, enriches the experience of training with it.