Should government archaeologists accept money from people who have destroyed archaeological sites? Should they prevent local archaeologists from participating in research? Should they ignore artifacts and fossils found by local archaeologists? Should they ignore middens? Whatever your answers to these questions, you might be interested to read on. This is a narrative of how government archaeologists made a fake science report to please a politician:
Many people in the Philippines were alarmed when news about the damage of the Huluga archaeological site in Cagayan de Oro came out in June 2003. Anthropologists were exchanging information about it for days, sending emails and text messages. "Huluga" became
a buzzword, and members of the Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA)
were invited to speak in several gatherings. The counter of the HCA website also
made a steep rise, as people from different countries read the pages.
This exchange of information led to calls for Cagayan
de Oro mayor Vicente Yap Emano -- the person responsible for
the damage on Huluga -- to stop the destruction. The Archaeological
Studies Program (ASP) of the University of the Philippines issued a
manifesto that partly said, “we … strongly support the
call of the Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA) and all concerned
sectors in Cagayan de Oro City to stop further destruction of the Huluga
Open Site …”. The manifesto also asked government agencies “to
stop the construction of the bridge …”
In similar manner, The Katipunan Arkaeologist ng Pilipinas,
Inc. (KAPI) wrote an open letter to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
appealing for “her intercession in behalf of the Filipino people
and the Cagayanons in particular for the preservation of our cultural
heritage.” The National Museum also sent archaeologists Leee
Anthony Neri and Clyde Jagoon to Huluga to assess the damage, and National
Museum lawyer Trixie Angeles met with HCA members and expressed interest
to file a case against Emano. She even suggested that the 4th Infantry
Division be asked to guard Huluga.
This apparent unity of archaeologists and other concerned people in the Philippines continued until October 2003, when KAPI asked HCA president and archaeologist Dr. Erlinda M. Burton to give a presentation about Huluga during its 4th annual conference in La Mesa Dam Conference Hall, Quezon City. In that meeting, which I attended, National Museum director Cora Alvina responded to Burton’s presentation by expressing her support for HCA. “We are with you,” Alvina said twice during her speech, looking at Burton. Alvina also said the National Museum was preparing a case against Emano.
Cast your vote: Do you want Manila archaeologist to ignore local scholars when doing work in the provinces?