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The music of Bohol: Reputana Guitars

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The music of Bohol: Reputana Guitars

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article written by Carlo Arado first appeared in The Bohol Chronicle’s lifestylebohol]

For generations the name Reputana has been synonymous with well-crafted guitars made locally in Bohol.  Starting with Cornelio Reputana, Sr., and then Cornelio Reputana, Jr., the family became well known with their home-grown skill to repair guitars, relying on self-taught techniques.  The Reputana’s later began to adapt local materials to craft uniquely Boholano instruments including guitars.   Sadly Cornelio, Jr. passed away June 9, 2017.  With his passing many worried the family’s unique craft and trade would be lost.  Luckily for Bohol the family has preserved its legacy and now Cornelio, Jr.’s three sons, his widow and the whole Reputana family continue the tradition started by their grandfather and made famous by their father of crafting local jackfruit wood guitars.

Today, the sons Junre Reputana, Jeriel Reputana, and Cornelio Reputana III, continue the family tradition in their home in Manga just off the Coastal Road in Tubig-Dako, along with Cornelio Jr.’s widow, Amada.   It is difficult to relate the personal nature and soul of the instruments the family crafts with care and tradition and tools that have been held by three generations of hands.  The Reputana family uses many types of wood, including mahogany, bamboo, cocoshell and other woods requested by customers.  But their specialty is the jackfruit wood collected from various trees as they are felled around Bohol.  Sometimes the wood is paid for and sometimes a large trunk is brought to them and traded for the labor to turn it into a guitar. 

The raw timber ages for at least a month.  Hand saws are then used to cut it down to boards and planks, which are then aged further.  Matching planks with ornamental grain are glued to form the face and back.  Side pieces are soaked in water and then bent over a pipe heated with flame.  A neck is cut and carved and a spool of brass wire is clipped and placed into grooves for frets.   Sometimes the jackfruit wood is left in its bright yellow grained state.  Sometimes they apply vinegar or other stains to naturally darken the wood.

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Careful painting of the distinctive circles let you know the guitar is of the Reputana family along with the lamination of finishes.  To this day Cornelio Reputana, Jr.’s widow, Amanda, still hand polishes each guitar, carefully running her hands across every surface to make sure the guitars proudly carry on the tradition of her husband.

Along with the brothers, all around the house there are a number of the upcoming generation, many of which are already accomplished guitar players and ready to continue the tradition.  With luck, Bohol will continue to have Ruputana family made guitars for generations to come.

One of the Reputana’s unique creations, the cocoshell guitar

If you want to purchase a Reputana guitar you need to get in line.  They have no available stock and are usually back-ordered several weeks. 

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