National Museum allots P90M for Butuan projects

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/10 January) – The National Museum will allocate a total of P90 million for two major projects of its branch in the city, an official said.

Dr. Ana Maria Theresa Labrador, assistant director of the National Museum said they have very ambitious plans for Butuan and that the planned P90-million funding was just an initial step.

“We like to present the project as an initial program for Butuan City and a flagship project for the national museum, as part of our development plan for 2014. Part of this is the building works that we have already started with the museum complex, but the most important aspect of our mandate is to insure the continuum of the research especially on the balangay boats,” said Labrador.

She pointed out that the amount will be allotted for two projects for 2014.

“P40 million will be used for the physical development of the national museum in Butuan City which will include the development of additional building and galleries from the existing building making it bigger,” she said.

“Then the P50 million is to be used to buy the land where the Balangay boats are currently being excavated and hopefully push further our research into the boats,” she added.

Labrador stressed the importance of the upcoming project for the national museum.

“Why is this project so important? Well, because of the discovery of the new boats. We now believe that there might be more boats waiting to be unearthed. Hopefully with the discovery of more boats, this will link us to our past and usher us into the future,” she said.

Dr. Mary Jane Louise Bolunia, archeologist of the National Museum and head of the Balangay boat excavation said that with the budget the work of discovering more Balangay boats is assured.

“I’m thankful that the budget has been approved to buy the land in the excavation site. Securing the land in the excavation site is very important for us. This is a big archeological find not only for the Philippines but for the rest of Southeast Asia,” said Bolunia.

But she said much work is still needed to be done with the excavation of the boats.

“Right now we are still excavating boat number 4 and underneath it the newly discovered boat number 9 which we think is the largest of all the Balangay boats that have been discovered. This find will rewrite history, and the Butuan seafarers were already technologically advanced and very much capable and comparable to other Southeast Asian maritime nations at that time,” said the head Balangay archeologist.

The archeological team from the National Museum will return to Butuan City in March this year to resume excavation of the Balangay boats. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)