Before "fake news" became popular, before Mocha Uson and the trolls rose to power, there was Nanette Roa.
Roa is running for councilor in Cagayan de Oro. Years ago, she was a member of the city historical and cultural commission. The mayor then was Vicente Emano. When Emano conceived of building a road that would cut through the Huluga archaeological site, advocates for heritage conservation protested. The late Dr. Erlinda Burton, a cultural anthropologist and archaeologist, asserted that Huluga was an invaluable heritage site.
But Emano bulldozed Huluga anyway.
This event became a national uproar, but Roa defended Emano to the hilt. She said that that Huluga was not damaged. Later, she changed her mind and claimed that the place was only a camp-like area, not an ancient village [worthy of protection].
Then in 2009, human bones turned up on one of the hills in Huluga, proving beyond doubt that the place was a prehistoric settlement.
But Nanette Roa was undeterred. In a press release, she wrote that the discovery was speculative, and that only the National Museum had the final say. She probably was not aware that the National Museum had already sent Angel Bautista to the site. Bautista was the head of the Cultural Properties Division of the National Museum and he had sorted the found bones with his bare hands, describing the discovery as indicating the presence of a prehistoric settlement.
But Roa claimed that the bones in the gravesite “belong to several persons who probably died less than two decades ago.” Bautista was reasonably upset when he learned of this statement because Roa is not a bone expert.
Roa also wrote an opinion piece where she stated that the bones in the gravesite could be those of World War II Japanese soldiers who had boarded a plane that crashed in Huluga. She did not seem to know that the gravesite contained Sung Dynasty and Sawankhalok bowls, and the bones belong to 52 men and women, one a child. There was no wreckage in the site, and the potteries were intact.
The historian and anthropologist Dr. Antonio Montalvan II, who writes a column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is a cousin of Roa and calls her a "______". He told me that years ago, Roa's late brother Zosimo ("Imok") gave Roa his collection of artifacts for safekeeping, but to his dismay, Roa sold them instead.
For spreading fake news about our heritage site, and helping cause further damage to the place of our ancestors, Nanette Roa does not have my vote. Her presence in the council would be a waste of government resources.
Elson T. Elizaga is the former secretary of the defunct Heritage Conservation Advocates (heritage.elizaga.net).