The once sleepy town of Calatagan, Batangas, was the toast of the archaeological community in the '50s. Unknown to most, right in the heart of this quaint municipality, a major Asian archaeological discovery was made, which shed light on foreign trade relations of early Filipino settlers.
In the 1950s, the whole town came to life when archaeologists from the National Museum conducted its very first systematic excavation of the area, with the cooperation of landowners J.R. McMicking and the Zobel de Ayalas - Alfonso, Enrique, and Fernando.
Unearthed were numerous grave sites that yielded artifacts that proved Calatagan was a busy trading port in the 14th century, home to early settlers who flourished by hunting, fishing, farming, textile weaving, and trade.
In 1957, the land was subdivided and sold to tenants Marcelino and Paulino Perado who likewise supported the diggings.
Decades of excavations yielded 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 clearly had origins in China, Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries.
"Archaeologists believe that the excavated objects were proof of maritime trade before the Spanish conquest of 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," he added.
Among the quarried treasures are 15th century Calatagan pottery, such as earthenware plates, basins, pots, and other vessels with different patterns made by incisions and impressions.
Items unearthed were 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 …