National Museum team arrives in Maitum today

Last Sunday, 19 soldiers from the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion arrived in Maitum to help guard the site.

Headed by archaeologist Nida Cuevas, tthe National Museum Team will pay a courtesy call on Governor Miguel Dominguez and Vice Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon at the Sarangani Capitol in Alabel town at around 9:30 a.,m. From there, the team will proceed to Maitum.

The National Museum’s visit just a week after the discovery, has been made possible by the collaboration of the provincial and municipal governments. The National Museum has yet to wait for the release of their quarterly budget before it could send a team but Governor Dominguez opted to take care of the plane tickets and other incidentals so the team could be deployed to Maitum soonest. The municipal government has promised to take care of the lodging and food expenses of the team.

The  team is expected to stay in Maitum for ten days, until April 25, Willie Ronquillo, chief of the Archaeological Division of the National Museum, said.

The cave in Sitio Sagel, also in Barangay Pinol was discovered April  5 while quarrying limestone. The 1991 find was discovered in Pinol Cave (also known as Ayub Cave), about 600 meters from the new site.

Ronquillo told MindaNews the team will conduct an “assessment and preliminary investigation” to “ascertain the extent of disturbance which can affect proper interpretation.”

The Metal Age anthropomorphic jars unearthed in 1991 were found to be nearly 2000 years old.

The team will also study if the new site, which yielded similar artifacts, may be linked with the 1991 find.

Cuevas’ team members are Alexandra de Leon, museum researcher I;  Jonathan Jacar, Sr., museum technician, scientific illustrator Eduardo Bersamira and Eduardo Sarmiento, museum researcher II of the Cultural Properties Division.

Ronquillo said the team will mount a token exhibit on the new find and give a lecture on Archaeology and Cultural Awareness before returning to Manila.

Cuevas has been involved in archaeological work since 1985.  She received her Diploma in Archaeology at the University of the Philippines Archaeological Studies Program and will receive her MA in Archaeology degree from UP on April 27, along with de Leon.

Maitum Mayor Elsie Lucille Perrett, who learned about the find also on April 5, proceeded the next day to the area 17 kilometers away from the town hall and ordered it sealed and secured pending the arrival of the National Museum team. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)