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Prehistoric Philippines

by Francis N. Tolentino

The recent discovery of rhinoceros bones and stone tools in Cagayan Valley opens up a great deal of possibilities for Philippine history. Not only will this impact our past as a nation but as well as our culture and heritage as a people.

A few years back, I was fortunate to have had the chance to visit Elephant Hill in Kalinga where fossil remains of rhinoceros, elephant, and crocodiles were exhumed sometime in August last year. With this new discovery in another archaeological reserve site in the northern Philippines, we can expect public attention to delve deeper into the rich culture buried underneath. We only hope that prudence will be exercised in unearthing these valuable pieces of our past.

According to the team of scientists and geologists who conducted the study and unearthed the fossil, the stone tools discovered lead to the conclusion that human beings walked Philippine soil more than 700,000 years ago. The discovered rhinoceros bones showed signs of having been butchered using stone tools which were also excavated near the discovery site. Undeniably, the hands that held these tools were also the first to have inhabited the Philippines and from which we might be able to trace back our beginnings as a people.

Evidence of early human habitation in the Philippines such as the one we have mentioned here may very well be the beginning of deeper inquiries and explorations towards determining whether the Philippines indeed became a new home for migrants during the Pleistocene age and whether the country indeed played a role in the movement of early human species from one part of Asia to another. Tracing back how these early settlers in the country who lived thousands of years ago will surely help answer many historical and archaeological questions that have remained unanswered to this day.

The value of these discoveries extends beyond mere historical significance. More than just presenting modern day Filipinos with the opportunity to correct certain information in our history or science textbooks, these recent archaeological discoveries offer us the chance to understand more deeply our roots as a creative and resilient Filipino race.

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