ALUBIJID, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/1 May) — Archeologists have started excavating a Spanish-era brick-making kiln in a site in this town where residents used to dump garbage.
The kiln, measuring around three meters and located beside a hill near the town poblacion, is a “major archeological find”, according to University of the Philippines senior lecturer Lee Anthony Neri.
“This is the only brick-making oven of its kind left in Misamis Oriental. That we have found the oven still intact though in fragile condition is a major find,” Neri said.
He said the kiln was built by Jesuit lay brother Juan Costa probably in 1890 before construction of the Holy Cross Church in Alubijid town started.
He said bricks from the oven were also sent to nearby Our Lady of the Snows parish church in El Salvador town and faraway Baclayon Church in Bohol.
“During the Spanish colonial period, church makers built brick-making ovens before any construction was started. Technically that is very sound because you need a steady supply of bricks,” he explained.
Neri said Brother Costa, a noted Jesuit brick maker, built five ovens for the churches in the towns of Balingasag, Jasaan, Tagoloan and El Salvador. None of these survived except this oven in Alubijid, he said.
Historian A. Paulita Roa said Costa was a close friend of Dr. Jose Rizal and helped the national hero in some surveying work when he was exiled in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte.
Roa said Costa, a native of Barcelona, Spain was sent to Northern Mindanao to supervise the construction of churches along the coast of Misamis Oriental.
Long forgotten, Alubijid residents never knew the historical significance of the Spanish kiln although the place was always known as “Hornal”, the Visayan word for oven or furnace.
The site itself, located beside a hill where the modern Holy Cross parish church stands, was turned into a garbage dump and was nearly destroyed when bulldozers cut their way through its entrance during a road-widening work.
Prof. Pauline Basilia of the University of the Philippines takes out a pail of dirt from the Spanish brick making kiln archeological site in Alubijid town, Misamis Oriental on May 1, 2014.
“My father and other older residents used to call this place Hornal. We never knew there is a Spanish brick-making oven here. We never knew,” town official Tristan Lindsay Ares said.
Ares said in 2005, a group of treasure hunters even tried to dig a tunnel at the site thinking there was gold underneath.
He said they came to realize its historical significance when the team from UP Archeological Studies Program led by Neri appraised the local government of its existence in 2007.
He said the town government immediately sealed off the area to preserve it until a full excavation could be made at the site.
“After the excavation, we plan to develop this site as part of our historical heritage and intend to develop this as a tourism spot,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)