Philippine prehistoric site in centre of dispute

A dispute seems to be brewing between two heritage groups over the significance of finds at at archaeological site in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines.

Heritage Council: Nothing final in ‘Huluga’ discovery
Sun.Star, 07 October 2009

THE Cagayan de Oro Heritage Council doused cold water on speculations surrounding the discovery of bones and what appeared to be ancient tools within the so-called Huluga complex in Barangay Indahag.

Dr. Erlinda Burton, an anthropologist who heads the Heritage Conservation Advocates, announced last week the discovery of the artifacts by an exploration team composed of volunteers from two local universities.

The exploration, which occurred last month, yielded skeletal remains and ancient tools believed to have been used by prehistoric Kagay-anons. Burton was quoted in another daily as saying the discovery proved the existence of a permanent settlement that is linked to the present Cagayan de Oro–a contentious subject between those in Burton’s side and City Hall, which earlier commissioned a survey debunking the claim.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

One thought on “Philippine prehistoric site in centre of dispute”

  1. The Heritage Council is composed of people who are chosen by mayor Constantino Jaraula and vice-mayor Vicente Y. Emano. They differ in opinion: Jaraula is convinced that Huluga is a settlement site, Emano keeps propagating the idea that it is a camp-like area.

    So, within City Hall, and within the Heritage Council, opinions vary. In fact, it is not true that the Heritage Council issued a press release declaring that the findings on Huluga grave site is not final. That press release was issued by Nanette Roa, who is a close friend of Emano; it was not authorized by the Heritage Council head Dorothy Pabayo, who was appointed by Jaraula.

    For me, what is important is Huluga is an archaeological site, and like any archaeological site big or small, it should not have been damaged. The tiniest artifact or fossil can tell a story, important not only to the Philippines, but to the world.

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