Tag Archives: Filipino

Around the Web – the Archaeology edition

Southeast Asian Prehistory

New DNA evidence overturns population migration theory in Island Southeast Asia

An international research team has discovered new DNA evidence to overturn conventional theories that suggest that the present-day populations of Island Southeast Asia (covering the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysian Borneo) came from Taiwan 4,000 years ago. The researchers show that population dispersals came earlier, from within the region, and probably resulted from flooding.

So Bellwood might have been wrong… The Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis is such an important part of my Archaeology classes in Uni that we have almost swallowed it. I wonder what Bellwood’s reaction is regarding this particular study. Does he have a rebuttal?

Philippine Archaeology

Shard find in the Philippines show an ancient form of writing

An archaeological team has dug up a pot shard with an inscription around its shoulder, at the San Ignacio archeological site in Intramuros, Philippines, which shows an ancient form of writing.

This is a really cool finding. Evidence of ancient script is very rare in the Philippines. This makes the sherd (edited; shard? what was I thinking? It’s a sherd!!!) an important artifact.

South American Archaeology

500yr Old Inca Mummies Found Drugged

Archaeologists have found three Inca child mummies dating back to 500yrs on the top of the 22,000ft summit of the Mount Llullaillco volcano in Argentina. One of the mummies found is that of a thirteen year old girl, now dubbed as the ‘Llullaillaco Maiden’, the other two mummies are that of a boy and a girl aged around four years old. The mummy of Llullaillaco Maiden is remarkably preserved whereas the remains of the boy and the girl were struck by lightning and so are charred.

Sacrifices are very significant rituals in a lot of cultures around the world. (Note: I just want to give a sneak peak about something similar in the Philippines) In the Philippines, sacrifices of chickens, bulls or pigs are done as proxy for an actual human sacrifice. This is done to appease gods or spirits, to ensure good yield of crops, among others. I remember my Anthropology prof who told us a story about one of his informants. Seeing Manila, he made a comment that the reason why a lot of children die in Metro Manila is because no proper sacrifice and ritual was done for the construction of buildings and infrastructure.

European Archaeology

Archaeology: The milk revolution

The mystery potsherds sat in storage until 2011, when Mélanie Roffet-Salque pulled them out and analysed fatty residues preserved in the clay. Roffet-Salque, a geochemist at the University of Bristol, UK, found signatures of abundant milk fats — evidence that the early farmers had used the pottery as sieves to separate fatty milk solids from liquid whey. That makes the Polish relics the oldest known evidence of cheese-making in the world1.

Here’s an article about how the consumption of milk evolved in Europe. It also answers how Europeans overcame lactose intolerance through the lactase gene, while other populations in the world did not.

Photo Collection: Mountains and Tattoos

First stop, Bontoc

Mind the betel nut you chew

The Sleeping Beauty Inn

The Mountains of Kalinga

Buscalan from afar

A day in the village of Buscalan

A Kalinga House

Whang-Od preparing her tools

The art of tattooing

The Eye


Note: These photos can also be found in my flickr account, alon89

A rather candid post about macaques and other things

By Kert

I wish to post here every other day but my work schedule this week had prohibited me from doing so, especially since I had to present about Physical Anthropology, a very broad topic, in front of 80 students for just two hours. Imagine my exasperation and we had a black out just as I was almost done with my presentation. That was one day ago.

We did have an enjoyable and, I admit, anthropologically satisfying itinerary. We visited a place called New Israel here in Mindanao (if you’re wondering where Mindanao is, google Philippine map — it’s the southernmost body of islands) well-known for being a sanctuary of macaques.

It was almost an hour trip by L300 van from our university. After that, we rode what is called a habal habal. A habal habal is a motorcycle with extension placed at the end. It’s the mode of transportation in many villages here in the Philippines and it usually carries a total of five passenger — the driver, three passengers lined up at the back of the driver, and one passenger in front of the driver right where the gas tank is.


An ordinary day in the Philippines (Image via PhilBoxing Forum)

What’s really interesting about the place is that a group of macaques are living exactly at the village where the people live. They don’t seem to be scared or have any qualms with the human species. In fact, they were playing with us when we got there. They let us feed them (but never pet them). One even tried to groom one of the students, much to the student’s fear and chagrin. The macaques here seem to be harmonious with the villagers. They’ve established the place as their territory and fight for it against other “tribes” of macaques living near the river and the mountain. The people, in their part, believe that the macaques are the reincarnation of the already deceased people.

The village community itself is also an interesting subject. Things seem to be well-organized around their religion. They call themselves the Moncadista. A morphed type of Christianity, with Rizal and Moncado as holy members of heaven along with God and Christ. The tourist manager explains that in the phrase Alpha and Omega, “Alpha” is God, “and” is Rizal, and “Omega” is Moncado. Moncado is a Filipino considered to be a charismatic leader.

The religion, as I observed, is at the heart of the structure of the community. Their leader is called the Supreme Being. The family of founders of the religion in the area is called “the holy family”. Their houses have the insignia of the religion, as well as the head of the family and the members.

I would leave it to the reader to decide if their brand of Christianity is a cult or not. One anthropologist has labelled them a cult. Whatever they are, they refuse to be called as such.

We toured around the village and a local showed us the crypt of the holy family. He also took us to the trail for the 12 stations of the cross. The view at the end of the trail is amazing. I wish I could build a house there. You could see the view of the landscape below and the mountains beyond that. The air is cold and beautiful plants grow in the area. It was just breathtaking.

Afterwards, I stuttered to present lectures on Intro to Physical Anthro, Evolution and Human Evolution. I wonder if they got the points of my lecture. I hope they did. Sometimes I just feel stupid so I don’t know if I get the information across to my audience.

Note: Photos of the trip will be posted tomorrow.


Featuring: Photobaket and vincescarch

Today we feature our in-house photographer, Vince. You can see his works over at his tumblr account, photobaket(?) (baket means “why” in Filipino) and flickr account, vincescarch.

Vince is the type of guy who brings his camera all around — always there to capture the right moments and memories. He is very devoted to his camera and also to the subjects of his photos. Being an anthropology graduate has helped him perceive the world in a different way than most people. This adds a refreshing perspective and angle to his shots. His photos not only emanate emotional meaning, but also cultural meaning. To say the least, a lot of his works have cultural relevance.

His photos have already appeared in this blog. See Kabilang Buhay and Blood had been spilled in the lands of Tarlac. The header and profile picture for this blog also came from his photo collection.

Here are some of his other photos:

Paglaot (Sailing) (Image via Photobaket)

Untitled (Image via vincescarch)

Trail (Image via vincescarch)

Hulma (Mould) (Image via Photobaket)

 Other than taking pictures, Vince is interested in Visual Anthropology and Development Anthropology.

The idiocy in Philippine mainstream TV

By Kert

Philippines has always been a country of festivities. Even our political system is modeled upon festivities. The one who gives the best show gets to become President. Case in point, Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III made use of the background of his family to create this drama that he holds the banner of democracy.

It is not then very surprising how the entire country is so enamored by noon-time TV shows and game shows. The Philippine TV is filled with them. Or should I say, infested with them. From Wil-Time Big Time (which used to be Wowowee), Face-to-face to Eat Bulaga. They’re all fundamentally the same. They’re all just one hour or so of nothing but dancing half-naked women, confused impoverished people who are hoping to have some cash or an entire crew putting up a carnival show at the expense of the poor. I’m not at all apologetic in saying I wish TV networks stop showing these things. These shows are wrong in many levels.

Does this guy look like he can be trusted to you? (Image via Underside)

1. Objectification of Women — Half-naked women gyrating their hips while screaming, “Yes yes awwww!” isn’t my idea of entertainment at all. I am not a conservative person but I am very much against the idea of objectifying and commodifying the female body. The show pretty much sells the bodies of these women so that they can be ogled at by bald men with beer bellies who have nothing to do but click on the remote control and leave all the work to their wives. And Willie Revillame can very much be indicted with several counts of sexual harassment. . Yes, dancing half-naked on TV can be seen as empowering for women and I’m all for that, but we are still at that stage in which women are treated as sexual toys. And men paying women to do just that feeds this cycle of the industry satisfying only the masculine needs of the society.

2. Exploitation of Human Emotions — Making people cry for ratings is just lowest of the low. I am vehemently against how TV shows make such a drama out of people’s lives for entertainment. It’s just despicable how they make the people cry or make them fight on TV. We are making emotions mundane, inauthentic and void of meaning just for money. What’s so good about that?

3. False hope — TV game shows give the people the false hopes that if they sing some songs, dance a little or join some games, they may hit jackpot. It gives the adults false hopes, and the children wrong values. TV shows exist in the liminal space and what happens inside it could not happen in our “reality”. We cannot just hit “jackpot” by a stroke of luck. It is a process that can only be achieved through hard work.

4. Faking a charity — Game and noon-time TV shows always claim that other than entertainment, they exist to help the people. But are they really helping? Out of the hundreds of thousands that pour in into the network’s account after one hour of show, how much of that actually goes to the poor? After one month of groceries, the winners of the shows go back to being hungry and impoverished. Then they return to their false hopes and gamble again in the TV shows. I see the broken down tricycles given away by Wowowee in the streets and ask “how much did this thing really help alleviating poverty?”.  What they got doesn’t even compare to the tax exemptions and profits the network gained.

It’s easy to say, “Go blame the poor people, why blame TV networks?”. I would, if only this people know any better and if they have actually a choice. But then again, it’s cheap entertainment. It’s easy to chew, easy to digest but has zero nutritional value. Serve them on a cold platter daily and the people would just gobble it up eventually. As my mother said when we went to my grandparents’, “TV has become a necessity of the people. Look at them. Without TV, what can they do?”

We are breeding a country composed of many people without proper education. Something should be done about this. And Philippine mainstream TV isn’t helping in any way.

Note: Last night (16/11/2012), I encountered the term imagology (Kundera 1991) for the first time. Milan Kundera first used imagology in his work Immortality. See actual quote here. He tells us that ideology is now replaced by imagology, in which we passively consume various bombardments of images through TV and radio. Daniele Conversi (2010) says that this imagology has rendered us complacent with critical thinking removed in the process of consuming forms of culture. In relation to nationalism, Conversi states:

In the passage from ideology to imagology, forms of banal nationalism have rapidly spread without the mediation of intellectuals and without soliciting critical thought.


…the reign of image belongs to a ‘hyperreality’ which merges reality with fantasy (Baudrillard 1994:1-42) as well as to a generalised ideology which is no longer mediated by individuals.


Conversi, D. 2010. Ideology and Nationalism.In Routledge Handbook of Ethnic Conflict (Cordell, K. and Stefan Wolff, eds.). New York: Routledge