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AVANT GARDE by Lenard Stuart
With over three centuries of foreign rule and a smorgasbord of contact
with outside cultures, the Philippines has achieved a colorful and
multifaceted culture of its own. Our culture is therefore an amalgam of both
East and West.
Ask any Juan dela Cruz about which cultures he thinks of when asked about
his own, and he will probably answer: Malay, Indian, Chinese, Islamic,
Spanish , and American; the cultures we have been taught to acknowledge.
Sadly, it is likely that there will be no mention of indigenous cultures and
peoples that have graced the country long before "orthodox cultures" set
foot on our shores.
Cowed and shamed to forgetfulness caused us to confine within our
collective psyche our common intrinsic identity, in which according to
Marrian Pastor-Rocess, an expert on Filipino culture, ". . . we deny,
reject, hold in contempt. . . ; or conversely, with the same degree of
alienation, glorify as our version of Paradise Lost, package into
consumables, 'popularize' as in other seasonally fashionable iconographies,
Yet amnesiac as some of us may be, efforts underway by a few to allow the
public to perceive the currentness and dynamism of our heritage, more
specifically the past. But it is hard for us to accept ideas which are
contrary to what we have been taught without the presence of physical
This is exactly where archaeologists come into the picture. Archaeologists
strengthen our identity as a people by clearing up the mirror into the past,
thus creating a new zeitgeist for the old.
Archaeologists do not try to find artifacts in order to lock them up in
museums, never to be seen by the public; on the contrary, they are
feverishly hard at work in order to "return" these pieces of our national
heritage back to the people in the form of exhibits and expositions. Even
though the taxidermic characteristic of archaeology cannot be denied, it
focuses mainly on the study of archaeological evidences, and ultimately the
sharing of the acquired knowledge to the people.
Archaeology not only gives us a sense of identity, it also supplies us
with a sense of national pride of having our very own culture. Also foreign
tourists, planning to catch a glimpse of our heritage, may come to visit the
country. This will not only provide much needed income but once again boosts
our national pride.
Dr. Eusebio Dizon, the country's leading archaeologist said, "We can
[also] appreciate [these cultural artifacts]. We sometimes underestimate
ourselves, and the tourists that come here. We assume that they only came to
watch the dancers in Baclaran."
In the end, the significance of archaeology in the country will depend in
how it can help us forge our own identity. Archaeology provides a direct
link to the past. Unlike written accounts that are colored by the author's
opinions, archaeological evidences present transparently presents the truth.
"It [our culture] was not given by the Chinese or the spanish."
Dr. Dizon concluded, "It is ours."
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