HomeManilavol. 4 no. 1 (2008)

(Mis)Representations and (Mis)Interpretations of Archaeology in Philippine Popular Writing

Vito P.C Hernandez

Discipline: History



Many, but fortunately not all, popular writing on the prehistory of the Philippines have poorly or erroneously interpreted or represented the subject. This paper presents three cases.


First: “Facts about the Origin of the Philippines” published in the June 8, 2003 issue of the Philippine Panorama is a creatively written piece on Philippine prehistory. A number of the archaeological theories were uncritically presented here. This paper critiques the article in the perspective of the archaeological sciences and presents those “ facts” more objectively.


Second: Several national and local newspaper articles from June to September 2003 on the Huluga archaeological heritage site in Cagayan de Oro are examples of a controversial heritage issue where the highlighted archaeology is misinterpreted. This paper sets the misinterpretations in line with scientifically accepted knowledge in archaeology.


Third: The 2003 excavations at Lumang Bayan, Sta. Teresita, Batangas, published in the September issue of the popular magazine, Men’s Zone, as well as in the October issue of the Philippine Tatler Magazine, are journalistic reports of an actual archaeological research. This paper does a critique on the journalistic methods of presenting generated archaeological data and its representation of the science of archaeology.


Unsuspecting writing and reading of prehistory in popular literature do have their consequences. The results could be misleading to a people’s understanding of their heritage. Inaccurate knowledge can bring about more misleading information. Since developing chronologies is a preoccupation in archaeology, a well-pieced together puzzle in the writing of a history can only rely on as accurate interpretations as possible. Until presentations are put into perspective, people cannot have a well-founded sense and knowledge of the past.