History Lost in Cagayan de Oro

A commentary by Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA) in the Philippines about the state of archaeological looting there. Incidentally, I’ve been to Cagayan de Oro as a kid, where I was staying with some family friends at the Del Monte pineapple processing factory.

21 September 2006 (Minda News) – A commentary by Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA) in the Philippines about the state of archaeological looting there. Incidentally, I’ve been to Cagayan de Oro as a kid, where I was staying with some family friends at the Del Monte pineapple processing factory.

COMMENTARY: History Lost in Cagayan de Oro

Archaeological looting in the Philippines is quite common: Three hundred years of Spanish rule and 40 years of American occupation have created a population largely apathetic to its roots. Widespread poverty and stories about alleged treasures buried by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War have prodded many people to take anything of perceived value from caves and other sites.

This condition has made archaeological work in the Philippines frustrating. Archaeology to most people is a vague occupation, and archaeologists are sometimes suspected as treasure hunters. Their presence in an area may cause looting instead of protection of fossils and relics. When archaeologists leave a site after hours of painstakingly slow scraping, they might find in the morning that their carefully made plot has turned into an ugly, gaping hole.

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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.

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