Confirming Ibaloi history through archaeology

A Philippine archaeologist suggests that archaeology has the potential to confirm events in Ibaloi oral history. One such event includes the Spanish massacre of an Ibaloi village in the 18th century.

Knowing original Ibaloi settlements thru gold trading
The Inquirer, 17 January 2012

There was a village in Ibaloi lore called “Tonglo” where the trading of gold was said to be brisk and thriving. An account by Michael Armand Canilao in his book, “Of Gold, Spanish Conquistadors and Ibaloi Generational Memory” (Cordillera Studies Center, University of the Philippines-Baguio, 2011), has it that a Spanish punitive expedition in 1759 razed this village, killing hundreds of Ibaloi who fought the invaders.

This event, Canilao writes, had come to be known as the “Tonglo Massacre.”

But apart from a general direction of the place given by Spanish friar named Vivar in 1755 as “four leguas (24 km) east of Cava (La Union),” no one exactly knows where Tonglo is, only that it is vaguely recalled in Ibaloi oral traditions.

The event’s discussion is regarded as “taboo … to mask the absence or lack of credible evidence that such a massacre really took place,” says Canilao.

The evidence could be surfaced through archaeology, suggests Canilao, a senior lecturer in the archaeological studies program and Center for International Studies of the University of the Philippines-Diliman. “Perhaps [it] can offer a breakthrough in confirming if this massacre indeed took place or not,” he says.

Full story here.

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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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