Heritage Conservation Advocates

New Archaeological Site Discovered in Cagayan de Oro

By Antonio J. Montalván II, Ph.D., September 30, 2009

Human bones in Huluga 3
Human bones found in the Huluga archaeological site.

A prehistoric graveyard intact with human skeletal remains and associated funerary materials has been unearthed in Cagayan de Oro.

The site is part of the Huluga Archaeological Complex in sitio Taguanao, barangay Indahag about eight kilometers south of the city center.

Archaeologist Angel Bautista of the Cultural Properties Division of the National Museum visited the site last September 21 and counted about fifty-two individuals, all of varying ages of both genders, as having been buried in the site. Some of the remains were buried with Chinese celadon wares, chert flake tools, and body ornaments. The site also yielded the data that cranial deformation was very much in practice among prehistoric Cagay-anons where the fronto-vertico-occipital part of the skull is flattened since childhood as a practice of social prestige, similar to skulls found in Butuan City. Many of the Huluga skulls had such deformation.


The Chinese trade ware porcelain pieces, all identified by Bautista as belonging to the Sung Dynasty (960 to 1279 AD), are now part of the collection of the Museum of Three Cultures of Capitol University. That gives the age of the site as contemporaneous to some of the vast archaeological finds unearthed in Butuan City a few years ago.

Such gravesite is the first ever to be found in the Cagayan de Oro area. The find effectively changes the cultural chronology and history of northern Mindanao, and decisively establishes that indeed a prehistoric settlement had existed in the Huluga area centuries before the founding of the town of Cagayan in 1626, Bautista averred. Bautista had designated the site as Huluga 3.

Dr. Antonio J. Montalván II, Engr. Darwin Enopia of A Brown Company, Inc., Dr. Erlinda M. Burton, Nick Aca of Museum of Three Cultures, and Angel Bautista. Montalvan, Burton, Aca, Eponia, Aca and Bautista in the Huluga grave

The exploration was spearheaded by the Museum of Three Cultures of Capitol University, Museo de Oro of Xavier University, and A Brown Company, Inc. whose Phase 5 development of the Xavier Estates also yielded some surface archaeological finds consisting of pottery sherds and Stone Age obsidian glass flakes. Also represented was the Heritage Conservation Advocates of Cagayan de Oro.

Bautista recommended a full-blown archaeological excavation to be done later this year as a quadripartite effort between CU, XU, A Brown, and the National Museum. The National Museum will grant custodianship of the collected finds to the Museum of Three Cultures, Museo de Oro, and the museum that A. Brown and Company is contemplating on establishing within Xavier Estates in uptown Cagayan de Oro. It will also be the first ever extensive archaeological excavation done in the city that is a concerted effort of many institutions all interested to contribute to the preservation of Cagayan de Oro history. End

Bowls and plates from Huluga grave

Some of the Sung Dynasty celadon and Sawangkhalok wares used by the prehistoric people of Cagayan de Oro now seen at the Museum of Three Cultures of Capitol University.

Published on September 30, 2009. Large photo of human bones added on April 18, 2023.