One day in 1981, a bulldozer driver named Berto Morales stumbled upon several pieces of golden belts, cups, earrings, pendants and necklaces. He unearthed them while he was doing some clearing operations on a land that will be used for an irrigation project. His life changed after that and rest is an amazing history.
This story was part of the documentary program, Probe, hosted by Cheche Lazaro. The Filipino Channel has been showing some of the best episodes of the Probe since Holy Thursday and this afternoon’s episode was one attention-catcher. I knew later from the internet that this particular feature was shown sometime last year.
The show presented Berto’s story about the golds that he accidentally found in Surigao. He sold some of these golds, and some he left to a Surigao priest, who also sold them one by one.
The golden pieces were believed to have been made between during the 10th and 13th century. In that case, these golds were already worn by our ancestors even before the spanish colonialists found our country. These artiftacts speak of how our ancestors lived during the old times. According to some historians, the colonizers found the people in our country as having ornamented by golds from head to foot. Our country was very rich in gold that our ancestors used them in trades. Even before the pre-colonization period, our country already have a sophisticated civilization. This is something to give us a sense of identity and pride as a people.
The Zobels (of the Ayala group of companies) realized the importance of these pieces in our cultural heritage, so they tried to locate the pieces and bought them one by one. They did not get the complete collection but those that they were able to buy are now displayed at the Ayala Museum, and some at the Central Bank of the Philippines.
I was not the type who’s into golds, as I would only buy a few small pieces to bring home to my family members whenever I go for vacation to the Philippines. Saudi gold was a common pasalubong item and my mom just likes having pieces whenever I come home. But I was in complete astonishment with the Surigao golds. They were intricately designed, and the fact that they were a thousand year old, they were priceless.
The archaeological gold collection in the museum are now considered the largest in the country, as well as in the rest of the world. Nothing of this scale and magnitude has ever been seen before, according to Dr. Florina Baker, former curator of the Ayala Museum.
I googled to check whether I would find some pictures of the gold on the internet, and luckily found some on sites that also discussed the said items. I am posting them here and I hope that other people would also discover our rich culture. I am very proud of our heritage.
I promised myself that I will visit the Ayala Museum on my next vacation to the Philippines. I am just crossing my fingers that the people there would allow me to take pictures of this magnificent collection, our national treasure.
Kudos to the Probe team and Cheche Lazaro for a very in-depth and interesting documentary.
To watch the Probe episode on youtube, click HERE.