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 and you’ll find numerous references. Even if you insert “not” in the phrase, the result will be the same. One website is 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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Cagayan de Oro update 2: Responses from archaeological team and city


16 August 2007 (From the Cagayan de Oro City Information Office and The Inquirer) – There’s another side to Cagayan de Oro story, it seems. In another story about the Huluga Open Site, the archaeology team from the University of the Philippines who investigated the site in 2004 was criticised for producing a “mock report” when Cagayan de Oro City commissioned an investigation into the site. Published here is the offending article from the Philippine Inquirer, and responses by the University of the Philippines Archeology Studies Program and the Cagayan De Oro Historical and Cultural Commission.

Cagayan de Oro’s lost treasure

Statement of the Members of the University of the Philippines-Archaeological Studies Program, Cagayan de Oro Project

Statement of the Members of the Historical and Cultural Commission Cagayan de Oro City

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Cagayan de Oro update 1: Quarrying stops

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15 August 2007 (The Inquirer) – A follow-up to an earlier story about how quarrying at a hill site in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines was destroying archaeological material there. It seems that lobbyists have succesfully effected a halt in the quarrying works. However, there’s more to the story as we chall see later…

Cagayan de Oro, DoT eye stop to Huluga quarrying
By Maria Cecilia Rodriguez

The city government and the Department of Tourism regional office here expressed support for the preservation of the Huluga open site as a cultural and heritage site, which could lead to a permanent halt to the quarrying there.

In a dialogue with preservation advocates, Mayor Constantino Jaraula said he would personally ask the private landowners to stop the quarry.

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Philippine archaeological site being demolished

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09 August 2007 (The Inquirer) – Part of a prehistoric site at Cagayan de Oro has been levelled to create a quarry. You can read more about the destruction of the Hulaga site here.

Quarrying in Cagayan de Oro archeological site assailed

A hill here where fossils and artifacts dating back to 377 AD have been found was recently converted into a quarry site, angering anthropologists because this allegedly threatens the destruction of what could be one of the most important archeological sites in the country.

Known among archeologists as the Huluga open site, the hill in sitio (sub-village) Taguanao, Barangay (village) Indahag here has been the subject of a major archeological study by a team led by renowned anthropologist Dr. Erlinda Burton of Xavier University since the 1970s.

The team said a prehistoric village once existed on the site as evidenced by stone tools and ornaments and a female skull they have dug up.

Several pieces of obsidian glass and a whale harpoon tip found at the site also prompted Burton’s team to call for the site’s preservation, citing the need for a wider scientific study on the subject.

In 1991, the National Museum said the site has cultural and archeological significance and described the artifacts found there as ‘invaluable Philippine heritage.

The Huluga open site has also been cited in several archeological books and websites, including those of the United States Archeological Society and a German association of archeologists.

Former mayor Vicente Emano, however, approved a government bridge project in the area about two years ago despite opposition.

The destruction of the Huluga open site continues, according to anthropologists and groups backing its preservation.

Read more about the destruction of the Huluga Open Site.