Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Palawan Museum Stores Relics of the Past – Palawan Chronicles Part 7

A beautiful lass from an indigenous tribe. Though half-naked, this photo proves that innocence in nudity doesn't necessarily constitute perversity. This is a favorite photo, although its original is a time-worn sepia colored portrait at a corner of a room.

Palawan is home to several indigenous people and ethno-linguistic tribes. These are the Tagbanua (“people of the world”), Palawano, Tau’t Bato (“people of the rock”) and the Batak tribes (“mountain people”). Palawan Museum is the repository of relics and artifacts of that otherwise forgotten era. Many of these artifacts have been unearthed from the Tabon Caves, including a skullcap of the remains of a caveman carbon dated back to the early Paleolithic Era about 22,000 years ago.

Antonio Pigafetta, who documented Ferdinand Magellan’s voyages, chronicled life in a bygone civilization. His was part of a fleet that landed in Palawan after Magellan’s Death. Here are some interesting observations:
  1. He witnessed his first cockfighting and fist fighting.
  2. Cultivated fields of the locals.
  3. Weapons consisting of blowpipes and spears.
  4. A system of writing that involves 3 vowels and 13 consonants.
  5. The local king employed 10 scribes to write down his dictations on leaves of plants.
With a population that seems rooted from the Paleolithic area, vestiges of a form of society are sure to surface here and there. The Palawan Museum provides, albeit a bit limited, a bird’s eye on this variety of population as well as their primitive lifestyle and ritualistic practices.

Shells and conches...


The museum is located along the city’s main commercial street - Rizal Avenue, facing Mendoza Park. Entrance fees are as follows: adults – PhP20 ($0.40), college students – PhP10 ($0.20), high school – PhP5 ($0.10), other children – PhP2. The building is a 2-story complex that’s open Mondays to Saturdays, 9AM to 12PM, 1:30 to 5PM.
I am not certain, but the second floor may be the Ethnographic Museum which showcases the customs and way of life of the Bataks and the Tagbanuas. Get your ticket at a row of tables by the front door, then sign at a visitor’s logbook. Unlike other museums elsewhere, cameras are allowed. This museum reminded me of the heavily ignored government museum in Mandalay (Myanmar). Dusty showcases, faded photographs, discolored labels, cobwebs surrounding lamp posts and the eerie sensation of lingering spirits in its empty hallways. An interesting place nevertheless.

A more modern wall painting.

The musical instrument called Kudyapi. It is a masculine instrument, while the bamboo zither (flute) is a feminine instrument. They have a complementary and almost exclusive character, playing in duets, trios or quartet. They symbolize the couple. The man points the neck of the lute towards the the woman he secretly loves. These are usually played in outdoors on moonlit nights. How romantic. LOL

The gab'bang.

Intricate craftsmanship. Basket-making is among these ancient folks' preoccupation.

Pagdiwata Rice Wine Ritual. The Tagbanuas. found in central and northern Palawan, practice shifting cultivation of upland rice, which is considered a divine gift. This tribe is known for their pagdiwata or rice wine ritual. They believe in deities found in their natural environment.

Click on the photo to read the enlarged list on the differentiation and distribution of local tribes based linguistic, cultural and racial criteria. There are 11 on the list, which includes their religious predilection (Christian, Muslim or Indigenous/Animism Religion).

Traditional tradeware jars.

This jar was recovered from underwater adventures seen below.

Eerie unmanned halls at the 2nd floor.

Museum hours and entrance fees.

Up Next: Touristy, pricey, and infamous island resort of Dos Palmas in Arrecife Island.


Palawan resorts said...

During one of our visits in Palawan, we were accompanied by some indigenous locals. We were lucky because they still know how to use the old Tagbanua writing systes and they showed us our written names in their language.

eye in the sky said...

That's fascinating. I like the fact that their alphabet is somehow "preserved". I'd have loved to meet the local folks. :)