The bolo was initially used for agricultural purposes in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Cuba, often to help clear vegetation, open coconuts, and/or kill pigs for slaughter. Therefore, the bolo is much like a machete.
As is the case with many martial arts weapons, the fact that it was used for agricultural purposes made it of particular use to those hoping to wield it as a weapon, such as was the case during the Filipino resistance/revolution against Spain in 1898. Spanish oppressors had difficulty differentiating between the Filipinos desire to use it as a weapon vs. for agriculture. Along with this, the use of the bolo is rather common in Filipino martial arts forms such as Balintawak, Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and Modern Arnis. Though there are many different types of bolos, the ones most often used during the said revolution were called sundangs.