Archaeological Fieldwork in Cebu, Philippines

08 November 2007 (Philippine Inquirer) – Anyone interested in fieldwork in Cebu? The National Museum and the Committee on Sites, Relics and Structures of the Cebu Provincial Government is looking for volunteers for an investigation on a site in Bantayan Island in North Cebu from mid-November to early December. You’ll have to read all the way to the end of the article for details about the fieldwork.

Mangyan in Cebu
By Joeber Bersales

No need to climb the steep and cold mountains of Mindoro to get a glimpse of the culture of one of the last four indigenous groups in the country that still use the syllabary (or baybayin) that antedates the Spanish colonial period by centuries. Well, not just yet. The Mangyan Heritage Center (MHC) and the University of San Carlos (USC) Museum opened yesterday a traveling exhibit entitled “The Mangyans of Mindoro: Myth and Meaning” – and admission is absolutely free.


The Mangyans, which number about 100,000, are composed of eight ethnolinguistic groups that call Mindoro their home. The more well known of them are the Hanunoo, Buhid and Iraya, which were subjects of pioneering studies published by anthropologists in the previous century.

Since last year, MHC has been bringing facets of Mangyan life through photographs, crafts and a video presentation in selected institutions in Manila. This year, the traveling exhibit has moved to central Philippines with the museum-like presentation of the artifacts of Mangyan life helping the viewer appreciate the wealth of indigenous life – and perhaps a glimpse at how our ancestors lived.

The exhibit at USC, made possible with the able leadership of USC Museum curator Marlene Socorro Samson, runs till Nov. 17 and is highlighted with a lecture by Dr. Antoon Postma, a Dutch anthropologist who later married a local Mangyan lass while doing work in Mindoro. That lecture will be held at Buttenbruch Hall, USC Main Campus, on Thursday, November 16, at 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

A small shop has been set up within the exhibit where one can buy crafts and beadwork made by Mangyans. I espied a letter opener made of bamboo with a poem in Mangyan syllabary etched on one side. For just a mere 25 pesos, it’s a lasting souvenir from a people that have remained resilient amidst the onslaught of modernity.

MHC should be lauded for taking up the cudgels for preserving and promoting Mangyan culture. More and more of the fascinating aspects of indigenous or native life in the 100 or so ethnolinguistic groups of the country struggle daily to survive the effects of modernization.

Established in 2000, MHC continues to serve as the major repository of Mangyan indigenous knowledge, which gets published in the form of books, theses, and photographs. At Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, where it is based, the center conducts research and continues to document the oral and written traditions of the eight Mangyan groups on the island. It is akin to the Cebuano Studies Center at USC, which continues to be the sole repository concerning Cebuano history and culture in the world.

Plans are afoot to carry out an archaeological study of a site in Bantayan island in north Cebu that has been the subject of periodic looting by local residents. If this pushes through, a team from the National Museum and the Committee on Sites, Relics and Structures of the Cebu Provincial Government will collaborate to carry out excavations with the cooperation of landowners sometime in the middle of November till early December.

If anyone is interested to volunteer for these excavations, please email me for more details which I may be able to provide once things are finalized.


Books about the archaeology of Philippines:
- Glances: Prehistory of the Philippines by J. T. Peralta
- The Tinge of Red: Prehistory of Art in the Philippines by J. T. Peralta
- Filipino Prehistory : rediscovering precolonial heritage by F. L. Jocano
- Filipino Prehistory : rediscovering precolonial heritage by F. L. Jocano
- Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino and other essays in Philippine history by W. H. Scott

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