|Dr. Erlinda Montillo Burton: teacher, mother, friend
|By Elson T. Elizaga, January 7, 2020. Published earlier in Mindanao Gold Star Daily. Updated October 13, 2023.
Dr. Erlinda Montillo Burton (fifth from left) with assistant curator of Museo de Oro, Lourd Ostique (sixth), and students and friends during an archaeological surface scan at Xavier Estates, where the team found ancient clay pottery sherds and obsidian flakes.
A few months before Dr. Erlinda M. Burton died, a friend said she had changed. She was older and weak after having undergone surgery for breast cancer. Then I received a happy greeting from her in Messenger. She wrote it would be nice to have a gathering with a common friend who was leaving in September. But I failed to see her. So, I harbor today a painful sense of regret.
To many people whose lives she had touched, she was an influential teacher, a friend, and a caring mother. She visited me when I was confined in a hospital – the only teacher in my life to give me such honor.
She was partly interested in my ailment because of her knowledge in psychology and medical anthropology. After 10 minutes of my responding to her series of questions about my condition, she gave me a startling diagnosis, which gave me an invaluable feeling of meaning, a discovery of my place in a map.
Certainly, I’m not the only person she had given a strong and useful insight, self-knowledge even. She told a tribal leader to be proud of his identity, and to assert his voice wherever he goes.
She has the ability to tell someone who they are, and convince them she is right, in a gentle but firm manner. When she knows your interests, she would introduce you to other people of kindred spirit, so that an interactive community is formed, here and there.
When someone defies civility, she would say something that would make the person realize their place in society. “You are a liar,” she confronted a lawyer. And when a team of archaeologists from the University of the Philippines made a research about the Huluga archaeological site without inviting her to join them, without consulting her, she accused them of violating archaeological ethics. She also criticized their report by saying the researchers didn’t know the definition of two elementary concepts: “habitation” and “settlement”.
I suspected ma’am Linda was merely hurt when the UP archaeologists excluded her from their research about a subject she was familiar with, that she took things personally. But when I searched online, I discovered she was right. Archaeological ethics adopted by several organizations worldwide demand teamwork among archaeologists with common interests.
On the definition of settlement and habitation, I consulted Dr. Barbara Ann Kipfer, a lexicographer and archaeologist with 30 years’ experience in writing and editing dictionaries, thesauri, and other word books, and I found out that ma’am Linda was right and the UP archaeologists were wrong.
I also asked Dr. Sebastian Stride if small archaeological sites are worth studying. He replied that in our quest for knowledge of the past, scattered occupations are also important, sometimes more important than big cities. Stride had spent four years living in Uzbekistan and has been working in Central Asia since 1995. He teaches Central Asian History and Archaeology at Barcelona University.
Possibly the most destructive act of the UP archaeologists was to declare that Mount Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga de Norte “is not sacred” because it has no monuments. This pronouncement encouraged a Canadian mining company to continue exploiting Canatuan, although they realized their mistake later and apologized.
I consulted the Indo-Eurasian Yahoogroup about the UP declaration and received a long response from Dr. Francesco Brighenti, Dr. Benjamin Fleming and Dr. Trudy S. Kawami. Let me paraphrase their findings: Some places worldwide don’t have monuments precisely because those who worship them do not want to build anything there.
Their opinion supports the single sentence from ma’am Linda, who was an agnostic and whose grandfather was a Tingguian headhunter: “It is the people who decide what is sacred to them, not the archaeologists.”
Goodbye, ma’m Linda. You will never be forgotten. Your courage, love, and fire have brought us together, wherever we are.
|2005 Curriculum Vitae
Dr. Erlinda Montillo-Burton
City, Leyte, Philippines
16, Lot 3, Acacia St., Calaanan, Canitoan, 9000 Cagayan
de Oro City, Philippines. Phone: (08822) 729938
Institute for Mindanao Culture, Xavier University, 9000
Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Phone: (08822) 728227
|Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Anthropology (Medical),
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Dissertation: The Impact of Modern Medical Intervention
on the Medical System of the Agusan Manobo, Philippines
of Arts in Anthropology, specializing in Archaeology;
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA
Thesis: A Study of the Prehistoric Settlement Patterns
of the Provo Area in Central Utah, USA
|1963 to 1964
|Thirty units of graduate work in Psychology, Philippine
|1961 to 1963
of Arts major in Psychology and Social Work, Philippine
Women's University, Manila, Philippines
|1960 to 1961
|Associate in Arts, Philippine Christian College, Manila,
|1959 to 1960
Arts, Silliman University, Dumaguete City
|MAJOR RESEARCH ACTIVITIES, 1967 to 2005
|2003 to 2005
be involved as co-investigator of the re-survey of farming communities
in Southern Bukidnon
the International Food Policy,
Research Institute, Washington D.C.
| 2002 to 2004
the Auditing (Inventory) of cultural resources of the indigenous
communities in Northern Mindanao
|April 2002 to
and analysis of the social and cultural dimension of the strategic
development planning for 10 municipalities in Bukidnon
the provincial government of Bukidnon
|2001 to 2003
and ethnographic research in Region 10, Northern Mindanao for the
writing of the Ethnohistory of Mindanao
of MINCODE, Davao City
|2001 to 2002
on the use of adaptive collaborative management of forest in Basac,
the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
|Oct. 2000 to Dec. 2000
of the mass treatment program conducted in schistosomiasis endemic
areas in Caraga Region, Northern Mindanao
|1999 to 2000
survey on indicators of good governance in Davao del Norte
the Philippine Center for Policy Studies, University of the Philippines,
School of Economics
| 1999 to 2000
action research among the street adolescents in Davao City
the TAMBAYAN Foundation Project
|June 1999 to
research on the Manobo and Banuaon communities of Agusan del Sur
for the San Luis Lumad Comprehensive High School
|1996 to 1998
Urban Research Consortium of Mindanao project on the Mindanao Wide
Survey of the Urban Poor in Seven Cities
|1996 to 1997
on oral traditions of the indigenous communities in Bukidnon
by the French Embassy
|May 1996 to Aug. 1996
on the concept of democracy and citizenship among NGOs in Cagayan
de Oro City
on Democracy and Citizenship
Third World Studies
|Dec. 1995 to June
research in the North central Mindanao area among the indigenous
the National Centre for Scientific Research, Provence, France
|Sept 1995 to April 96
study on the environmental resource management and protection in
the province of Zamboanga del Norte
Galing Pook Program Awardee
|1994 to 1996
1 and 2 studies on the ethnological perspective of the Manupali
Watershed, Lantapan, Bukidnon
collaboration with SANREM Biodiversity Workplan, University of
Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
|1994 to 1995
a study on the perceptions and attitudes of communities towards
government environmental policies, development programs, and their
occupancy in the Mt. Apo National Park
the Southern Mindanao Agricultural Programme (SMAP), Region 11,
|1994 (Feb. to
a study on the social soundness analysis of the Local Government
Code on decentralization in Region 10
|1993 to 1995
evaluation of the hilot training in Region 10. For the Maternal
and Children Health Services, DOH
|1991 to 1992
on the socio-economic condition of the 11 watershed project sites
in Region 10
|1990 to 1991
on women in the midst of armed conflict (impact on socio-economic,
health and psychological state)
the Office of the Peace Commission
|1989 to 1990
documentation research on upland development program in three Mindanao
of the DENR
|1987 to 1988
on the mode of farming system of tomato farmers in Claveria, Misamis
to the study of small land tillers conducted by the Research Institute
for Mindanao Culture
the Philippine Center for Policy, University of the Philippines-Diliman
|1985 (Sept. to
on the water contact patterns of the farmers in schistosomiasis-endemic
areas in Surigao del Sur
the Department of Economics, University of the Philippines. Funded
|1984 to 1985
study of two villages (fishing and farming) in Bohol on perceptions
and attitudes toward Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) and traditional
healing in relation to ARI
|1984 to 1985
research on the impact and effects of the barangay health workers
on the health and welfare of the inhabitant of Agusan del Sur and
|1983 to 1984
on herbal contraceptive users in three provinces: Lanao del Sur,
South Cotabato and Negros Oriental
by Population Center Foundation
|1980 to 1981
fieldwork among the Manobo of Sagrento, La Paz, Agusan del Sur.
Focus and dissertation: The impact of modern medical intervention
on their indigenous curative system
|1975 to 1977
survey and excavation of the Huluga Site Complex, Cagayan de Oro
Archaeological investigation of the settlement and burial sites
in Suatan, Butuan City
Excavation of Magting site, Camiguin Province; collected oral
traditions of the Banuaon and Manobo of San Luis, Agusan del Sur
|1970 to 1973
archaeological project for the National Museum: Cagayan Valley
Excavated early metal site in Lanna, Solana, Cagayan Valley
|1967 (Feb. to June)
Field Training, Calico Archaeological Project, Yermo, California,
under the directorship of the late Louis
S. B. Leakey.
|June 15, 2000
|Datu Salangsang Award: Most Outstanding Kagayanon in the Field of Education. Given by the City of Cagayan de Oro.
|1992 to 1993
|Xavier University Outstanding Faculty Award
|1978 to 1980
|Ford Foundation Fellowship (Individual Grant)
|1967 to 1968
|B.Y.U. Teaching Assistantship
|1966 to 1967
|International Altrusa Award
|1965 to 1967
|Brigham Young University Graduate School Scholarship
POSTCRIPT, AUGUST 15, 2023:
1) Dr. Erlinda M. Burton did not resign from Xavier University in 1999. Burton continued her work in this institution, and fulfilled her duties in several organizations, such as the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission, until her passing in 2018.
2) An obituary of Dr. Erlinda M. Burton posted in the official Twitter of the National Museum states: "The late Dr Erlinda Burton, an anthropologist and museum director of the Museo de Oro, was known for her historical conservation advocacy. She figured prominently in the fight to save Huluga caves, believed to be the city's first human settlement ...."
Correction: Burton was a cultural anthropologist and archaeologist. She was the curator of Museo de Oro of Xavier University, and was known for her heritage conservation advocacy. She figured prominently in the fight to save the Huluga archaeological complex, believed to be the first human settlement of the city ...."