Heritage Conservation Advocates
Heritage Conservation Advocates
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

Photo of Huluga settlement site

Photo is artist's concept of Huluga before project. Put mouse over to see the condition in 2003.


Huluga is an archaeological site in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines.The place was discovered and studied in the 70s by scholars of Xavier University and the National Museum -- among them the archaeologist Dr. Erlinda M. Burton, who used to work with Dr. Louis S.B. Leakey in the Calico Archaeological Site.

Ming and Ching Dynasty pottery sherdsIn 1992, the National Museum gave Huluga accession numbers, giving it formal recognition as an archaeological site. Korean contractors hired by mayor Vicente Yap Emano left the area when they learned it was a cultural heritage.

In 2003, Emano and his new Filipino contractor, UKC Builders, Inc., bulldozed Obsidian Hill to give way to a road-and-bridge project. The damage, reported by local and national dailies, caused a national uproar and even reached South Korean officials and journalists, who were told of a visit by a "cultural terrorist" from Cagayan de Oro.

MORE DESTRUCTION. In 2007, a national report about quarrying in Obsidian Hill prompted mayor Constantino Jaraula to publicly acknowledged Huluga as a heritage site. But Jaraula broke his promise to fence the area. Instead, Jaraula went halfway around the globe to Norfolk, Virginia, USA to forge a sister-city agreement, citing historical tie with Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

RECENT DISCOVERY. In 2009, an ancient grave in Huluga and an archaeological site in Xavier Estates were found, the first by three residents who claimed to be hunting for bird's nest, and the other by an HCA member who was making pictures of the subdivision. A Brown Company, Inc. (ABCI), Xavier University, and Capitol University agreed to share in funding the excavation of the sites, as suggested by National Museum archaeologist Angel Bautista. ABCI board chairman Walter Brown expressed willingness to construct a museum in Xavier Estates if significant artifacts were retrieved. Brown even postponed earth-moving activities for three months there -- a financial sacrifice -- but the National Museum cancelled the plan. HCA received information that mayor Vicente Emano was behind the rejection.

Since 2003 when Huluga was damaged, Emano has always been defended by the Historical and Cultural Commission (HISCOM) of city hall. One of its members denied any damage to Huluga. In February 2013, a few months before the national elections, Emano reappointed the same people loyal to him to HISCOM. Their term ended in 2016. Because of this political maneuver and the low priority given to Huluga and other archaeological sites by the current administration, Huluga remained uprotected.

UPDATE, February 15, 2016: "UPON the recommendation of Dorothy Jean B. Pabayo, chair of the City Tourism Council of Cagayan de Oro, the membership of the City Historical and Cultural Commission has been reconstituted. "Here’s the new composition of the City Historical and Cultural Commission: Erlinda M. Burton, Ph.D., chair; Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel D. Coronel, SSJV; Glory Sarmiento-Magdale, Ph.D.; Nicolas P. Aca Jr., and Rene Michael D. Baños." -- Excerpt from Mozart Pastrano's article in Mindanao Goldstar Daily.

  Dr. Erlinda Montillo Burton passed away in the morning of September 11, 2018. Articles about ma'am Linda may be sent to this email address. Please indicate if you wish to have your submission published in this website. Here's Elson Elizaga's article about Dr. Burton.
The Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA) campaigns for the preservation and promotion of historical and archaeological sites in Cagayan de Oro and vicinities. In 2003, it filed and won an administrative case against former mayor Vicente Yap Emano for the destruction of Huluga. HCA today is inactive.

An image of a Hanunuo Mangyan is superimposed on Huluga, suggesting affinity with all tribes. Website design and content are copyright properties of Elson T. Elizaga, unless otherwise indicated. Articles are owned by respective authors. Published July 30, 2001. Page updated December 13, 2019. Please ask permission to use any content in this website by sending email. Research reports on subjects outside Cagayan de Oro are welcome.