National Museum team off to Maitum Tuesday

Wilfredo Ronquillo, chief of the Archaeological Division of the National Museum told MindaNews the team, headed by archaeologist Nida Cuevas, will conduct an “assessment and preliminary investigation” so they could “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 will be accompanied by 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.

Except for Sarmiento, the team will stay in the area for 10 days from April 15. Sarmiento will stay for another week “to brief local government officials and the community on Cultural Heritage laws,” Ronquillo said.

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.

Dr. Eusebio Dizon, head of the archaeological team that dug and studied the Pinol Cave (also known as Ayub Cave) in the same barangay 17 years ago, is presently out of the country while Rey Santiago, a member of the team and Dizon’s co-author in the book, “Faces from Maitum: Archaeological Excavation of Ayub Cave,” could not join the team as he has to attend to urgent family matters.

But Santiago told MindaNews he has briefed the team.

The National Museum could not have dispatched a team immediately due to budgetary constraints but Sarangani Governor Miguel Dominguez, realizing the urgency of ensuring the protection of our cultural artifacts, said they would take care of the team’s plane tickets and other expenses that would be incurred during the on-site visit.

Maitum information officer Beth Palma Gil quoted Mayor Lucille Perrett as saying the town will take care of the accommodation and food of the team members in Maitum.

Perrett, who learned about the find late Saturday, 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)