The Kawit burialsBy Jobers Bersales
Cebu Daily News
Not just 12 but about 22 individuals were interred at a section of the Kawit Elementary School which were exposed when post holes for a covered court were dug up last month (see “Mystery in Medellin,” Past Forward/Aug. 30). I returned to the site the other weekend together with my museology students and Cecilia Cabañes of Museo Sugbo to conduct a skeletal inventory as promised.
Unfortunately, of the estimated number of individuals, we only found nine skulls with intact cranial vaults, allowing for a limited determination of sex on the basis of the mastoid process, a protrusion just below where the ear would be located in the temporal bone. This protrusion tends to be larger among males than among females. This, together with the brow ridges on a skull (which tend to be almost absent among females) is often the most observable way of determining sex among human burials. The long bones would also have helped in determining with absolute certainty the sex of these burials. But when we arrived on site, all the bones had already been mixed up.
A day of sorting all the bones, including the painstakingly meticulous work of counting the ribs and spinal bones (lumbar and thoracic) and pairing long bones (ulna, radius, tibia, humerus and femur) finally allowed us to determine the maximum number of 22 individuals. Now, out of this number, about five to six were sub-adults, mainly children between 4 to 10 years old. Of the adults, at least four were determined to be female.
Intriguing are the mandibles or lower jaws, which were already separated from the skulls and mixed together. Some exhibited characteristics which do not appear to be Asian. But I am not about to state that these were probably Spanish or American. So I took photos of those that were still intact for future analyses by experts.
Two small test pits, dug by workers near the post holes yielded more skeletal parts, which I quickly ordered to be covered up for a future archaeological excavation. For the moment, the question on everyone’s mind is what these burials represent.
I do not think these are pre-Hispanic inhumations or interments. The absence of grave goods on these individuals, which were dug up clustered and in different overlapping positions in three modern post holes, may help bolster my belief that these are Spanish-period burials. I was told by some locals that the old Catholic mission church in Kawit (perhaps a visita in the 1700s with no permanent parish priest) was located somewhere in the vicinity of these burials. The overlapping positions of some burials may be the result of a sudden fatal disease or, most probably, a massacre following one of the dreaded raids by Moro slave marauders. It was these incessant slave raids from Mindanao, after all, which caused the coastal settlement of Kawit to lose its primal position as the first poblacion or cabecera of Medellin.
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Congratulations to the debating team of the University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance for winning the Grand Championships in the CVC Law Debates aired on ABS-CBN News Channel. The team defeated Ateneo de Manila in this final round, after routing University of Sto. Tomas and three other schools along the way. Kudos to the team and to Dean Joan Largo.
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Last night, Msgr. Agustin “Ting” Ancajas and I drove to Banawa to attend the inauguration of the house gallery of Florentino “Jun” Impas, Jr. Artists, art connoisseurs and friends got together at his residence in Forest Hills, Banawa for the occasion. Jun, whom I always call “the Cardinal’s painter,” was honored by the presence of His Eminence, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, who has constantly supported his work. Before leaving, the good cardinal beamed gladly, saying, “I’m glad Cebu has finally produced its own Fernando Amorsolo.” Incidentally, Jun just came back from a sojourn in the Vatican as he was commissioned to do a portrait of Fernando Cardinal Filoni, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evengelization of Peoples. Congratulations, Jun!
More from this Column:
- The idiocy behind university rankings
- Raiding China
- Mike Rama and making of a livable Cebu
- Rejoinder from non-pigs in the pigsty
- Cebuanos in a pigsty