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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Traces of our past

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18 August 2006 (Philippine Daily Inquirer) – Columnist Ambeth Ocampo writes about ceramics in Philippine prehistory and ceramics collecting.

Traces of our past

ONE of Manila’s best secrets is a coven known as the Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines (OCSP) where a small group of like-minded people, all interested in ceramics and the archeological past of the Philippines, gather to talk shop, be they beginners or internationally acknowledged experts like Rita C. Tan….

Although ceramics held many clues into Philippine prehistory there was such a wide range of material that I limited myself early on to Ming blue and white (Annamese when these came up), knowing I did not have the budget nor the inclination to buy the entire range: Brown ware, Celadon, white ware, etc. Oriental ceramics is a bottomless pit for the collector and I did not want to fall into it at the expense of collecting Filipiniana.
While one has to develop a taste for Philippine pre-colonial earthenware or even plain monochrome ceramics, blue and white pieces are pleasing to everyone, even non-collectors. I was fortunate to have inherited my mother’s modest collection of Thai ceramics — enough to fill one whole display cabinet.

Related Books:
The archaeology of central Philippines: A study chiefly of the Iron Age and its relationships by W. G. Solheim