Another Facet of Calatagan Unveiled; Excavated Treasures Now on Exhibit

Article excerpt


Unknown to most, one of Asia's major archaeological discoveries lies right in the heart of the once sleepy town of Calatagan, Batangas.

Once a bustling trading port in pre-colonial Philippines, Calatagan was home to early settlers who lived and survived by hunting, fishing, farming, textile weaving, and trade.

But in the 1950s, the whole town went agog when the National Museum conducted its very first systematic excavation. Unearthed were numerous grave sites which yielded artifacts that proved Calatagan was a busy trading port in the 14th century.

Archaeologists from the National Museum started excavating the area, with the cooperation of the landowners J.R. McMicking and the Zobel de Ayalas - Alfonso, Enrique, and Fernando.

In 1957, the land was subdivided and sold to tenants Marcelino and Paulino Perado who likewise supported the diggings.

Decades of excavations brought about discoveries of artifacts, mostly ceramics of various forms and sizes like jars, plates, saucers, pitchers, jarlets, bowls, and figurines. Some artifacts were locally-made pottery, while others were clearly brought in from China, Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries.

"Archaeologists believe that the excavated objects were proof of maritime trade before the coming of the Spanish colonizers to the Philippines," explains Wilfredo Ronquillo, chief of the Archaeology Division of the National Museum. "The existence of local and imported ceramics is proof of the extensive and vibrant trade between the early settlers of Calatagan and foreign traders."

Also among the dug treasures are 15th century Calatagan pottery, such as earthenware plates, basins, pots, and other vessels with different patterns made by incisions and impressions.

There were also the 14th and 15th century ceramics, such as glass bracelets, bowls, and vessels from the Ming Dynasty (China), Celadon and Sawankhalok vessels (Thailand and Indo-China), as well as Annamese vessels (Vietnam).



The excavation sites were identified as Kay Tomas and Pulong Bakaw. Kay Tomas used to be part of the former Hacienda de Calatagan, acquired by the Zobel de Ayala family in 1829.

Today, Kay Tomas has been developed into another cultural haven called the Golden Sunset Resort and Spa, a sprawling eight-hectare resort combining all the elements of a vacation destination to create a tranquil place for rest and relaxation.

As a tribute to the land's rich history, Golden Sunset Resort has built an outdoor museum gallery - the first of its kind in the Philippines - that allows viewers to appreciate the cultural treasures of Calatagan's early inhabitants. …