Mindanao caves need further study and money

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The National Museum of Philippines has submitted an additional proposal for the study and protection of the recently discovered Sagel Cave. There’s much more work needed to be done on the cave and surrounding areas, but it looks like budgetary constraints will hamper much of the work – a common occurrence for archaeology in Southeast Asia and around the world.

National Museum to send proposed budget for more studies of Sagel Cave
Minda News, 28 April 2008
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Mindanao cave site update

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More updates from the Philippine National Museum team who travelled to Mindanao (Southern Philippines) last week to investigate a new cave site containing prehistoric finds. The site, designated Sagel Cave, has since been declared an archaeological site.

National Museum team hopes to find untouched artifacts
Minda News, 16 April 2008

Maitum declares new cave an archaeological site; NM team digs 2 test pits
Minda News, 19 April 2008

National Museum confirms Sagel Cave a prehistoric burial ground
Minda News, 20 April 2008

More prehistoric artifacts found in Sarangani cave
GMA News, 20 April 2008
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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.

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Clues to Philippine prehistory

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24 August 2007 (The Inquirer) – Columnist Ambeth Ocampo writes about the ceramics, commonly trade ceramics, found in Philippines and in Philippine waters.

Clues to Philippine prehistory
by Ambeth Ocampo

MANILA, Philippines — At the start of each semester, when I meet a new class for the first time and go over the syllabus, I watch out for the collective groan that comes when I announce that a visit to the National Museum is required. For many college students who had to endure a grade school trip to the museum, going there a second or third time is considered cruel and unusual punishment. This mind-set is not the fault of the museum; it is the fault of the teacher or museum guide who did not infect the students with a sense of discovery and appreciation of our past. Many of my students complain after visiting the National Museum that they do not want to see another piece of blue-and-white ceramic for the rest of their lives, but they say this because they do not appreciate not just the artistic and symbolic beauty of the pieces but more importantly the fact that these are traces of a long and complex story that goes beyond our written history.

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The Huluga controversy continues

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21 August 2007 (MindaNews) – Elson T. Elizaga of the Heritage Conservation Advocates writes his account of the events surrounding the destruction of the Huluga Open Site in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, and HCA’s bone (pun intended) with the National Museum of the Philippines.

Elson T. Elizaga

One important lesson I got from a news reporting class in Silliman University came from Dr. Crispin Maslog. He said that if you want to study a man, you take the contents of his wastebasket.

This advice is popular in other sciences, such as forensics, zoology, and archaeology. Put “midden important in archaeology” in google.com and you’ll find numerous references. Even if you insert “not” in the phrase, the result will be the same. One website is socialstudiesforkids.com. It says, “It might sound a little silly, but archaeologists can find out a lot about people by looking through their trash.” In 2006, trash middens in Alaska have changed a popular belief about Inupiat Eskimos.

Trash is encyclopedia.

On August 5, 2003, an archaeologist couldn’t contain her excitement when she found shells, animal bones, and earthenware sherds at the bottom of Obsidian Hill in Huluga. “Oh, we’ve found a midden, a kitchen midden!” Dr. Erlinda Burton exclaimed. Her companions were the wife and daughter of Atty. Maning Ravanera and myself.

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Archaeology beneath the Sea


For anyone interested in maritime archaeology of the Philippines, AND happen to be at the Australian National University in Canberra, you might want to catch the public lecture by Dr. Eusebio Dizon of the National Museum in Manila, Philippines.

Public Lecture
Archaeology Beneath the Sea: Shipwrecks & Their Cargos in the Philippines

For more than 20 years, the National Museum of the Philippines has been conducting underwater archaeology in Philippine waters with international collaborators. The shipwrecks uncovered include the fifteenth century [tag]Pandanan wreck[/tag], with its cargo of Chinese ceramics, which was accidentally discovered by a pearl farm diver off the coast of Pandanan Island in the southern Philippines. Another key discovery has been the wreck of the San Diego, a Spanish warship that sank off the waters of Fortune Island during a battle with a Dutch ship, the Mauritius in 1600.

Dr Eusebio Dizon is Head of the Underwater Archaeology Section and Curator I in the Archaeology Division, National Museum, Manila, Philippines. He has undertaken extensive fieldwork in both land and underwater archaeological exploration and excavation in the Philippines, United States, India and Southeast Asia.

Dr Dizon is also a Director of the Archaeological Studies Program in the University of the Philippines and a Professorial Lecturer at Ateneo de Manila and Santo Tomas Universities. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Pennsylvania in 1988.

Presented by the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.

Speaker/Host:ANU-Toyota Public Lecture Series 2006
Venue:Lecture Theatre 3, Manning Clark Centre, Union Court, ANU
Date:Thursday, 28 September 2006
Time:6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Enquiries:Diane Whitehead on 6125 4144

Taking Risks

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29 June 2006 (Cebu Daily News) – A commentary with mention of an archaeological dig just wrapping up at Plaza Independencia, with pre-hispanic finds of burials and Chinese ceramics.

Taking Risks

Before I proceed, however, let me invite the readers to the important work carried out by the National Museum (NM) at Plaza Independencia, where archaeological excavations are about to wrap up. Back-filling of the 12 or so 4×4 meter units (quite awesome by archaeological standards) will end today with some 4,000 sacks of excavated soil. The excavations began on June 6 as a prerequisite for the construction of a subway to connect to the South Coastal Road. All told, 11 burials were unearthed, aside from over a thousand Asian tradeware ceramic sherds (probably from the Ming dynasty, 14th to 16th centuries), as well as local earthenware, colonial-period bricks, clay pipes, wine bottles, and a jumble of cow, carabao, pig, and deer bones.