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People and Places

Aboitiz, USC, National Museum commence a two-year archaeological project in Northern Cebu

Aboitiz Graduate students at San Remigio Cebu in 2012
Graduate students from the University of San Carlos, University of Guam, University of Hawaii and the University of the Philippines who participated in the second archaeological field season at San Remigio, Cebu in 2012.

Modern archeology to aid Cebu’s heritage preservation

Badian site of plio pleistocene land surface and tektite discoveries
Badian, site of plio-pleistocene land surface and tektite discoveries

An archaeological survey and excavation has commenced today in San Remigio and other parts of Northern Cebu as part of the efforts to preserve the Cebuano heritage.

The Northern Cebu Archeological Project, a joint initiative of the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) and Aboitiz Foundation, in collaboration with the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu aims to establish a protocol and methodology for systematic archaeological studies in Cebu.

Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. through its President and COO Maribeth L. Marasigan, granted the NMP a two million-peso donation in support of its archeological heritage preservation initiatives.

Through the project, a template for continuing studies and resources to archive and preserve data of archaeological sites and landscapes will be developed. The primary objective is to develop a geospatial database to record all archeological sites and resources in Cebu through the use of state-of-the-art archeological methods and applications.

NMP Northern Cebu Archaeological Project
Unidentified earthenware artifact associated with one of the burials recovered at the San Juan Nepomuceno Parish Church site in San Remigio, Cebu in 2012.

Further, it aims to produce a comprehensive catalogue of archeological findings in Cebu especially those belonging to the Metal Age. This catalogue shall be a useful reference for further studies, for the development of a comprehensive preservation program, and for crafting sustainable information dissemination program through local and international publications.

Despite the existing quarantines and travel restrictions, the NMP Project Team led by Deputy Director-General for Museums Dr. Ana P. Labrador, assisted by Ms. Alexandra de Leon of the Archaeology Division, decided to move forward to implement the project with Cebu-based archaeologists Drs. John A. Peterson and J. Eleazar R. Bersales, of the USC Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and History.

“We’re excited to have the support of the Aboitiz Foundation and the National Museum of the Philippines to conduct intensive field studies in north Cebu. Previous work has always been scattered and unfocused; this gives us a very systematic way to survey archaeological sites,” said Dr. Peterson, Principal Investigator of the Northern Cebu Archaeological Project 2021.

According to NMP Director-General Jeremy Barns, this archaeological project is believed to be a game-changer for the NMP as it seeks new modes of engagement with its partners in the field of archaeology while dealing with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tektities in Cebu
Tektites such as can be found in the Carcar Formation that appears in Badian but also throughout North Cebu. These objects are from a 700,000 years old meteor splashdown that scattered throughout the region, and are coeval in the landscape with very ancient humans and fossil animals such as stegodon and rhinoceros.

“It makes sense to work with local experts in the field while we continue to protect our own archaeologists by not putting them at risk in sending them where archaeological activities will be taking place. This will also promote more local archaeologists by supporting capacities and strengthening cooperation,” he noted.

“As we remain grounded in our Cebuano roots, we in the Aboitiz Group are proud to partner with the National Museum of the Philippines and the University of Cebu for this groundbreaking archaeological initiative to preserve the Cebuano heritage,” Aboitiz Foundation President and COO Maribeth L. Marasigan said.

The two-year project is scheduled in four phases. Towards the last phase of the project, collected cultural resources will be launched publicly through an exhibition that will piece the stories of those sites in the forthcoming National Museum Central Visayas Regional Museum in Cebu.

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