Recovered artifacts & treasures from the Philippines.
The Angono Petroglyphs
Binangonan, Rizal, Philippines
The Angono petroglyphs is currently the oldest known work of art in the Philippines dating from 3000 BC based on pottery shards and tools found when the carvings and cave was discovered. The carvings are of 127 figures of humans, lizards, frogs. and a turtle. It was discovered in 1965 by Carlos V. Francisco, a mural painter and National Artist of the Philippines awardee, who was leading a Boy Scout troop hike. It is one of the national treasures of the Philippines alongside other national treasures such as the Laguna Copperplate and Manunggul Jar.
As important as they are to our history as a people and nation however, today the petroglyphs are at risk of disappearing forever. Erosion and vandalism are the two major reasons. According to anthropologist Jesus Peralta, “Eventually they will disappear… preservation is out of the question.”
Despite the amount of years since it’s been discover it really hasn’t been studied and not much is known about the cave, the petroglyphs, and the people who stayed in the cave and etched the drawings on the wall and why. What some believe the purpose of the petroglyphs based on various human figures squatting is that it was a place of worship. After all, based on Spanish written records our ancestors were known to worship in caves, often having figures of their ancestors and deities in caves.
Other than the approximate dating of the petroglyphs and cave, which even now isn’t 100% accurate as there hasn’t been an intensive research due to lack of support of the government and lack of finances as well as jobs and pay for the anthropologists who are eager to study this piece of written history, nothing else is really known. The National Museum of the Philippines isn’t supported by the government in studying the petroglyphs of Binangonan, as well as many other caves that have petroglyphs in various parts of the Philippines such as Cagayan Valley, Palawan, Bontoc, and the red hematite handprints in Bohol, let alone continue excavations of sites which are known, but are neglected due to the lack of interest from the government for “more important” things. The lack of funds to support the anthropologists and to enforce security around the cave to discourage the vandalism is something that isn’t helping either. Some of that vandalism is people scratching their names on the walls or just scratching slashes on the figures.
The Angono Petroglyphs are an important document in our history and culture prior to the Spaniards. It is something left by our ancestors through pictographs, for whatever reason they were carved. Much research still needs to be done before we discover the purpose of the cave and who were the people who stayed and carved in the cave. It is up to us to help preservation and to support the study of the cave as well as other caves and archaeological studies throughout the country as these studies is what will help uncover our precolonial past and with it bring a sense of pride for ourselves and ancestors.
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