Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Agusan Antiques

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Antique items found in Agusan Province

Butuan City is the regional center of the Caraga region. A highly urbanized city, its history is rich in movement, floods and even controversy. The city was originally believed to be located in Pinamangculan, by the banks of the Masao River. But due to flooding, the people were forced to move to Maug, now the municipality of Magallanes, located at the mouth of the Agusan River. But still the floods became a problem, the settlement then moved five kilometers inland to a place now known as Linungsuran.

Although the fertile soil in the area is attributed to the seasonal floods, the settlement were still forced to move this time to higher ground called Agao, the present location of the city proper.

Dubbed as the Land of Antiquated Finds, the city was a flourishing settlement and trade center. Archeological explorations in the area unearthed evidence of a thriving city by the river of Agusan. Named the city of Balanghai, antiques, ceramics and terra cotta wares were discovered along with a number of balanghais. A balanghai is an early wooden boat and the discovery of some nine (9) such boats in the city confirmed a thriving society as early as the 4th century. By the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century, trade relations at least within the neighboring islands and as far as Borneo was already established as evidenced by ceramics dug up in the city dated as early as the 10th century, well before the arrival of the Spaniards.

The city is also part of an ongoing debate about the true location of the first mass held in the country. History has pegged it in Limawasa, Leyte but some scholars say that it may have been in Masao in Butuan City. Whether or not this is true, Ferdinand Magellan did lay anchor by the mouth of the Agusan River in 1521 and celebrated mass to commemorate the event.

Butuan city has also attracted its share of tourists. The city’s rich history has drawn the curios and the history buffs alike. The Butuan National Museum was established to highlight the cultural and historical artifacts unearthed in the city that proves its prehistoric existence and opulent cultural heritage. Five kilometers from the city proper stands the Balangay Shrine Museum. A graveyard wherein lies Balangay 1, the wooden boat that is dated 320 A.D. Eight other such boats have been discovered to date and affirm the importance of the Agusan River to the people – trade, agriculture and even religion has been attributed to the mighty river.

As the History Haven of Caraga, Butuan City has put an indelible mark on Philippine History and has continued to enrich our culture and sense of self.