CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—The Bangsamoro Commission for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (BCPCH)-Lanao del Sur Provincial Office led an archaeological survey in the area aiming to uncover historical narratives and imprints of Lanao del Sur.
The archeological survey was conducted across eight towns of the province by the Philippines School of Archaeology along with representatives from Mindanao State University—Iligan Institute of Technology, the Mindanao State University—Marawi Campus, Provincial Tourism Office.
The archaeological initiative was prompted by the discovery of a Chinese jar during a historical site validation in one of the municipalities of LDS in 2022, calling forth the dispatch of a team to carry out a surface archaeological survey by the BCPCH-LDS to uncover antique remnants and discover the rich cultural heritage of the province.
Commissioner Robert M. Alonto of BCPCH-LDS said that the survey aimed to unearth ancient settlements and shed light on Lanao del Sur’s historical and cultural past. “Experts, scholars, and enthusiasts embarked on a six-day journey of exploration. Engaging with local communities, the teams merged academic expertise with community insights, collecting surface artifacts and laying the groundwork for future heritage tourism initiatives,” Alonto said.
“This cooperative effort between various institutions exemplified the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage while also harnessing its tourism potential,” Alonto added.
“It started last year during a historical site validation by a team of BCPCH-Lanao del Sur. In one of the municipalities of Lanao del Sur, they were able to discover a vase. It’s a jar, a Chinese jar,” Ruh Alonto, a consultant for BCPCH-Lanao del Sur added.
Ruh Alonto added that at least 200 artifacts, particularly trade ware and earthenware, were uncovered during the survey, bringing light to the idea of the existence of a trade between the Chinese and the early Maranaos during the pre-Islamic period.
“For us, we are trying to assert our separate timeline for the country. This will support our assertion that prior to colonialism, prior to Islam, we already have settlements that are occupied around the lake,” Ruh Alonto said.
Robert Alonto added that the significance of the exploration, especially in unearthing historical narratives of the province is important and necessary considering that development is rapid.
“We have a lot of infrastructure development and growth of municipalities. So, we need to have initial data on what are our potential archaeological sites,” Robert Alonto added.
Lanao del Sur Provincial Tourism Officer Ahmad Nouraldin Tamano said that based on the initial findings of the Lanao del Sur Archaeological Survey yielded significant outcomes, such as the establishment of a comprehensive archaeological database, meticulous documentation of sites and artifacts, identification of promising research locations, artifact collection, preliminary reports.
“We have an active stakeholder involvement, and a well-defined framework for future research. This survey will play a crucial role in promoting informed conservation, sustainable tourism, and enhancing our understanding of the province’s archaeological importance,” Tamano said.
Lanao del Sur Provincial Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr. in a text message said that he fully supports the archeological activities in the province.
“I fully support this research because Lanao del Sur should not only be seen as an agricultural hub but also one of the provinces of the Philippines that is excitingly rich in history, heritage and culture,” Adiong, Jr said.