Monday, March 28, 2005


Archaeological sites around Pinatubo and Arayat are scarce. Some of the main finds have been cemtered near the town of Porac. The late archaeologist Otley Beyer mentioned several Neolithic tools found at Porac (Hacienda Ramona) before World War II, one of which he thought might actually come from that age. Others he believed were holdovers into later periods. Unfortunately these were discovered during plowing of fields rather than controlled excavations.

Generally, the area around Pinatubo offers difficulties for archaeological work because each of the half dozen Holocene eruptions can dump dozens or, in some cases, hundreds of feet of ejected material. When this is lahar it can dry to a concrete-like hardness. Much of the continually-populated area to the south is or was of delta type and thus the landscape is always changing. Many old riverside communities may have been washed all the way to the bay due to regular floods that hit the region.

Color relief map showing ash deposits around Pinatubo.

The bases around Pinatubo were closed shortly after the Persian Gulf War, during which they were used extensively, following an intense negotiation period with the Philippine government over new leasing. According to the Ayta peoples who lived around the mountain at the time, Pinatubo erupted because of drilling and/or excavating along its sides.

The Pinatubo Ayta still believe in the deity that is said to inhabit their most sacred mountain. There are different accounts as to who exactly was doing the digging but the story may illustrate how the ages-old clan conflict has evolved and survived into modern times.

The traditionalist camp would be found in those today who have a close bond with nature with a natural disdain for destructive and polluting technology. Such views are held by many indigenous peoples and by environmentalists in general.

In many indigenous cultures, the people had great respect for other forms of life. When they went to fish, hunt, gather or harvest they first conducted special rites. In the ancient Pacific, for example, they would make an offering and ask permission first from the tree spirit before cutting it down to make a canoe. In the Philippines, permission was asked from the rice god, the manifestation of the rice plant itself, before harvesting and thanksgiving was given afterward.

The traditional Hawaiians during the Makahiki season forbade hunting, fishing and similar activities giving populations time to recover and replenish. In many cultures, fishing nets were designed so the smaller fish could escape and have time to grow into reproducing adults.

Nothing can illustrate this close bond with nature more than the fact that many indigenous people believed in an actual kinship with certain forms of nature through totemic relationship.

Among non-indigenous folk, this thinking is represented in those who see the need to protect the environment and to promote sustainable and smart living strategies. They recognize that while technology has brought progress, it has also wrought tremendous destruction. Many species have been driven to extinction due in large part to technological advances. Human inventions have also contributed to the increased ability of weapons of war. In the 20th century alone, more people may have died due to war than in all previous human history.

The traditional thinking of the Dragon and Bird Clan may then be represented by those who promote sound environmental and ecological progress. They tend to believe though that the quest for wealth drives society towards destructive practices.

The opposition then would naturally be those among whom materialism is an obvious prime motivating factor. The buzz word for this ideology is "growth," which can also be seen as meaning basically "wealth acquisition." Thinkers of this kind would tend to downplay the negative effects of technological progress on the environment, or on society in general.

The clearest identifying factors in this dualistic conflict though would be found in the traditional mindset, which is still inclusive and egalitarian, while the opposing camp tends to be exclusive, and elitist to a strong degree.

The battle now is more ideological than clan-oriented, although in insular Southeast Asia, at least, the clan elements have not disappeared entirely.

The battleground for the "great war" varies and can include the halls and conference rooms of the United Nations, the Kyoto summit and some forsaken rez (reservation) in the middle of "nowhere."

Paul Kekai Manansala