11/09/2011

L'HISTOIRE ... PRÉ-COLONIALE !

PHILIPPINES LE PASSÉ !

Ce qui manque aux Philippines, c'est l'histoire, l'histoire pré-coloniale, le passé qui reste à découvrire et à écrire ... dans le futur !

Une nouvelle page va-elle-s'écrire avec Boljoon ?

After five grueling hours of non-stop land travel from Cebu City, our team finally reached our target destination: a third-class, quiet municipality of Cebu called Boljoon.

Situated at the southern part of Cebu, Boljoon rendered me speechless.
I was immediately smitten by the spectacular view from where I stood: the open sea glistening like diamonds as far as the eyes could see, the towering, majestic mountainside to my left; and the imposing, century-old and battle-scarred Boljoon

Church, which also served as shelter for the people of Boljoon against Moro raids during the Spanish era.
The people of Boljoon must truly feel blessed for their charming town, I thought.

Little did I know that far greater treasure was just waiting to be discovered beneath my very feet.


It didn't take long before I finally met Professor Jojo Bersales and Ame Garong from the National Museum, both known for their deep passion for the field of archeology.

After a crash course in Archeology 101, I immediately swung into action eager to join Prof. Jojo and Ma'am Ame in the meticulous and pain-staking excavation of six remains in an alleged ancient burial site in Boljoon.

A greenhorn in archeological digs, I was overwhelmed at the sight of all the skeletons, artifacts, antique jars and plates recovered by the excavation team, including an extremely rare Japanese ceramic plate dating back to the 15th century.

Each discovery had a story of its own. But the unearthing of golden jewelry from the past, especially the recovery of a huge tubular earring, instantly sent the whole archeological team into a frenzy.

Experts and historians from Cebu agree that the unearthed earring is no ordinary find.
Judging from the artifact's huge size and intricate design, experts believe the earring must have been worn by someone of great importance in their community then, and may also have been a symbol of wealth, influence or great power of the bearer.

"It further proves that even before the Spaniards arrived, our ancestors already had a complete community system and used gold as part of their fashion then, as it was abundantly found in our rivers and mountains at that time," explained Sir Jojo.

GMA News TV reporter John Consulta travelled to Boljoon, Cebu to cover an archaeological dig for the GMA-7 docu, "Philippine Treasures." Image grabbed from Philippine Treasures Those who witnessed the recovery of the earring couldn't help but wonder if it belonged to someone really important. Could it have been worn by the great chieftain Lapu-Lapu, whose village was relatively nearby?

Or could it have come from the treasure chest of Rajah Humabon, who, as recounted by Magellan's companion, Pigafetta, also wore similar prominent tubular earrings?

We may never know.

But one thing's for sure: the mysterious earring of Boljoon does not only belong to Cebu. It's a piece of national heritage that should make all Filipinos proud. It represents a vital connection to our ancestors, the valiant men and women who once ruled this land.

The earring is a clear proof that even before the Spaniards came and claimed to have brought civilization to our land, our country already had a thriving community system and cultural heritage that is distinctly Filipino.

But the discovery of the Cebu's mysterious earring was just the beginning of our adventure.
The beauty of the ornament is simply breathtaking; the first ever-archeologically documented golden earring to be retrieved in a Philippine burial site.



The small town’s main attraction is the Church of Patrocinio de Maria. The church’s original structure was put up in 1599.

However, it was destroyed during the Muslim raid of 1782, which also devastated most of the town. In 1783, they started the reconstruction of a new church. This time around, a stone fence was built around it as a protective measure.Church history

It is said that among the churches in Cebu, the Church of Patrocinio de Maria is the best showcase of our colonial past. It is also the oldest remaining stone church in Cebu. History buffs will have a blast exploring it—although they would most likely be dismayed that some parts of the church need repairs badly. To date, the church is focused on the restoration of shingles on its roof to preserve the old look.

The rectangular bell tower of the Boljoon parish is also a point of interest. At one point, it housed around seven bells on its topmost floor. These days, only four bells are left.

The tower’s lower floor also served as the prison cell. The cell’s walls are adorned by drawings done in black ink—mostly of steam ships. Perhaps, most of the prisoners were pirates or wayward sailors. There was one drawing, however, that seemed to be inspired by Chinese aesthetics. One can only guess at the prisoner’s identity and why he got locked up in the first place.

In closer proximity is the town cemetery, whose entrance is marked by an arch with a miniature skeleton sculpture. The walls surrounding the cemetery are also embellished with sculpted skulls and cross bones.


Awesome collection

Despite the fact that the parish museum is also in dire need of funds for the restoration and maintenance of its artifacts, its collection is still pretty impressive. Even after being significantly decimated by the elements and looting in the past, there are still—thankfully—enough awesome historical treasures left behind.

One of the first things that caught my attention were the lagang, which were fashioned from sea shells. The whimsical ornaments were at least 100 years old. There was also a 19th century Madonna and Child painting by an unknown artist.

Centuries-old leather-bound church records, which contained the names of past parishioners, revealed that Boljoon used to have many seamstresses and burdaderas (embroiderers). This explains why many of the old priests’ vestments on display had intricate embroidery done in gold thread.

Even lapsed Catholics would be impressed by the craftsmanship of the wooden statues of saints dating back to the 19th century. Standing at about four feet tall, each is skillfully carved and painted in rich colors. Since Boljoon was known for its needlework, the museum curator surmised that the statues were most likely from outside Boljoon.


New wave

Tourism is just starting out in Boljoon. There are nearby resorts that will surely entice more people to come to Boljoon. Plus, as it turns out, the town that treasures its past is not averse to technology that will propel it to the future. It may be an out-of-the-way destination, but the town manages to retain its Old World charm while offering modern-day conveniences.

Surely, both tourists and travelers will find that hard to resist.

Boljoon may not be a rich town, but its residents are taking strides to preserve their heritage. They should inspire the rest of us to get to know our own country more by taking delightful side trips that enrich our minds.

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