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Museum for Tuburan, more gold in Boljoon

First Posted 14:04:00 04/10/2008

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Tuburan will be the first town in the history of Cebu to open its own municipal museum this Saturday. Mayor Constancio Suezo, Vice Mayor Rosa Marie Suezo and Councilor Marie Tabotabo are the proud parents of this museum aptly housed in the spacious second floor of the old municipio. Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who generously provided counterpart funds to complement the town?s appropriations for the museum, will be on hand to open it.

Working with Councilor Tabotabo these past six months to prepare the museum is a team from University of San Carlos, led by architect Ellis Puerto and artist Paul Vega, following the exhibition brief and storyline I was asked to prepare. Puerto decided early on that the best way to show the age of the structure that would house the museum was to open the original ceiling and walls to show the timberwork that marks colonial-period houses. This is what meets the visitor when he or she climbs a set of wooden stairs and into the main hall. The municipio, I am told, dates to the very early 1900s (perhaps 1903, if I am not mistaken) and was once the house of the Tabotabos, a family intertwined with the Spanish and American colonial history of the town and was supposed to have donated the house as the town presidencia or municipal hall.

The museum has a fine collection of restored and original burial grave goods, including what I think are Vietnamese ?chu dau? ceramics which are quite notable in Cebu as opposed to the rest of the archipelago ? a phenomenon that needs a serious study that until today has not been carried out yet. There is also a collection of glass bracelets and beads, probably dating to the 14th-15th century and made in Sungai Mas district of Kedah, Malaysia, the last major center of glass jewelry production in Southeast Asia.

The collection of reproductions of Gen. Arcadio Maxilom?s papers, as well as a detailed set of telegrams and notes on his surrender, marks the Maxilom section of the museum, which is located amidst a number of documents marking the task of governance in the municipality. Period photographs dating from the 1920s to the 1940s abound the walls of one gallery, while another is marked by domestic furniture, tableware and livelihood implements. A small collection of ecclesiastical objects, including ivory pieces, are also part of the museum exhibition.

With the opening of the museum, I hope other towns will soon follow inasmuch as there is so much historicity in every town and city of the province. Which is why the provincial committee on sites, relics and structures will soon be holding a training session on the establishment and management of town museums some time in May. Congratulations to the local government and people of Tuburan and its town officials for this pioneering enterprise in showcasing their heritage.

* * *

The third round of excavations in Boljoon town by a team from USC and the National Museum yielded some pleasant surprises on its first week alone. Between March 24 and 28, four burials were uncovered and at least two had grave goods that could be tentatively read as ?rich? in the form of a late Ming dynasty gray-green stoneware bottle and a large hollow tube gold earring with engravings worn on the right ear of a male burial; a broken piece of gold ring on another burial, probably a female in her late teens; and carnelian bead with gold ornament as well as a late Ming dynasty white ware in the form of a covered box.

But more than these is the distinct awareness of Boljoanons and people from neighboring towns of the importance of preserving the past, as evinced by the comments we get and the questions we are asked by those who drop by the site. We excavated on this spot where we are finding burials precisely because workers dug a piece of a skull a week before we arrived, and quickly covered it up so that we could do our work. We are heartened by this concern for an archaeological site, something that I consider as important as the gold and other pieces of burial accompaniments that we are finding. There is hope for archaeology after all.

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