Friday, September 21, 2012

Unique burial coffins discovered in the Philippines

News feed from the Associated Press says Filipino archaeologists dug up limestone coffins at Mt. Kamhantik in the sleepy town of Mulanay in the province of Quezon. Local scientists, who started the dig in 2011, considered the tombs unique since early discoveries showed only wooden coffins were used by ancient Filipinos in their burial rituals. Carbon dating tests revealed the graves may date back 1,000 years ago. Below is the rest of the AP report.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Archaeologists have unearthed remnants of what they believe is a 1,000-year-old village on a jungle-covered mountaintop in the Philippines with limestone coffins of a type never before found in this Southeast Asian nation, officials said Thursday.

National Museum official Eusebio Dizon said the village on Mount Kamhantik, near Mulanay town in Quezon province, could be at least 1,000 years old based on U.S. carbon dating tests done on a human tooth found in one of 15 limestone graves he and other archaeologists have dug out since last year.

The discovery of the rectangular tombs, which were carved into limestone outcrops jutting from the forest ground, is important because it is the first indication that Filipinos at that time practiced a more advanced burial ritual than previously thought and that they used metal tools to carve the coffins.

Past archaeological discoveries have shown Filipinos of that era used wooden coffins in the country's mountainous north and earthen coffins and jars elsewhere, according to Dizon, who has done extensive archaeological work and studies in the Philippines and 27 other countries over the past 35 years.

Aside from the tombs, archaeologists have found thousands of shards of earthen jars, metal objects and bone fragments of humans, monkeys, wild pigs and other animals in the tombs. The limestone outcrops had round holes where wooden posts of houses or sheds may have once stood, Dizon told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.
The tombs were similar to ancient sarcophagus, which have become popular tourist attractions in Egypt and Europe, although the ones found in Mulanay were simple box-like limestone coffins without mythological or elaborate human images on the tops and sides.

Archaeologists have only worked on a small portion of a five-hectare (12-acre) forest area, where Mulanay officials said more artifacts and limestone coffins could be buried.

A preliminary National Museum report said its top archaeologists found "a complex archaeological site with both habitation and burial remains from the period of approximately 10th to the 14th century ... the first of its kind in the Philippines having carved limestone tombs."

The discovery has been welcomed with excitement in Mulanay, a sleepy coastal town of 50,000 people in an impoverished mountainous region that until recently was best known as a major battleground between army troops and Marxist rebels.
"Before, if you mention this region, people will say 'Oh, that's NPA country,'" Mulanay Mayor Joselito Ojeda said, referring to the New People's Army rebels. "But that era is past and now we can erase that image and this archaeological site will be a big help."

Mulanay tourism officer Sanny Cortez said that after archaeologists have finished their work in a few years, his town plans to turn Mount Kamhantik's peak into an archaeological and ecotourism park. A museum would also be built nearby.
Despite the loss of thick tree covers in the 1,300-foot (396-meter) mountain's foothills as villagers clear the jungle for homes and farms, the forested mountain still harbors a rich wildlife, including rare hornbills, wild cats and huge numbers of cave bats, including a white one recently seen by environmental officials. The mountaintop offers a scenic view of Tayabas Bay and the peak of Mayon volcano, famous for its near-perfect cone, Ojeda said.

The archaeological site is part of 280 hectares (692 acres) of forest land that was declared a government-protected area in 1998 to keep away treasure hunters and slash-and-burn farmers. Treasure hunters looking for gold exposed some of the limestone tombs years ago, but it was only last year that Manila-based archaeologists started to unearth the graves and artifacts and realize the significance of the find.

Treasure hunting has damaged many archaeological sites in the country. In the early 1990s, Filipino archaeologists led by Dizon discovered that 2,000-year-old burial jars with unique human face designs had been destroyed by treasure hunters in a cave in Maitum town in southern Sarangani province.

Archaeologists worked for a few years to glue the sack loads of clay shards piece by piece and restored more than 150 ancient burial jars to shape. Some of the Maitum jars are displayed at the National Museum in Manila with a plan to exhibit them in France next year, Dizon said.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anti-Islam Filmmaker Tracked Down

The man who started it all has been finally identified. The maker of the incendiary film Innocence of Muslims is now known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula aka Sam Bacile, the latter was the name used to upload the film on YouTube. Below is the report from Associated Press.

The anti-Muslim film implicated in mob protests against U.S. diplomatic missions in the Mideast received logistical help from a man once convicted of financial crimes and featured actors who complained that their inflammatory dialogue was dubbed in after filming.

The self-proclaimed director of “Innocence of Muslims” initially claimed a Jewish and Israeli background. But others involved in the film said his statements were contrived as evidence mounted that the film’s key player was a southern Californian Coptic Christian with a checkered past.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles Wednesday that he managed logistics for the company that produced “Innocence of Muslims,” which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad.

The movie has been blamed for inflaming mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya this week as well as U.S. Embassy in Yemen on Thursday.

Nakoula denied he had directed the film, though he said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cellphone number that the AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where Nakoula was located.

Nakoula told the AP he is a Coptic Christian and supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims.

The film was implicated in protests that resulted in the burning of the U.S. consulate Tuesday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said Wednesday that Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy employees were killed during the mob violence, but U.S. officials now say they are investigating whether the assault was a planned terrorist strike linked to Tuesday’s 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Controversial Film and Outspoken Pastor Prompted Muslims To Cry "Foul"

For those of you who haven't seen Innocence of Muslims, the controversial (and allegedly) anti-Islam film that had prompted the killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three more of the embassy staff there, it's a cheaply made one with amateur actors. Despite of its lack of cinematic merit, it's still garnering clicks and causing protests across the globe and the world wide web. It is also feared that more repercussions (i.e. violent attacks) will be staged by Radical Islamists against the United States.

The very outspoken and openly anti-Islamist Terry Jones fired up the already volatile sentiments by promoting the film. Jones, the fundamentalist pastor from Florida, led the burning of the Qur'an in April this year.

Currently the video, posted by a Sam Bacile on YouTube, has about 34,500 dislikes and about the same number of fiery comments. Some consider the film a satire and an exercise of freedom of expression, and therefore should be tolerated and/or not to be taken seriously. It's like Monty Phython's Life Of Brian , although this British comedy is a tad tamer probably because it was filmed way back in the late 1970s.

Hopefully, the situation will cool down and be resolved without further casualties. You can help by not commenting against Muslims or Christians or any religious group for that matter. I believe that morality has nothing to do with religion.

Watergate Pnoy Style

Many observers didn't miss the similarities between the Watergate Scandal that happened in the US during the early 1970s and that of Rico Puno-led raid of Robredo's condo last month. Watergate prompted Nixon to resign and its local version gave Puno no choice but to give up his very lucrative post (most likely Pnoy didn't give him choice on the matter). Should we call it Juetengate? Pistolgate? Pnoy-Punogate?
I see Puno's move both as audacious and stupid. I'll bet he's got big guns behind him (literally and figuratively as what Sen. Santiago has hinted on several of her interviews), thinking he'd be protected from all sides while executing the raid. It is stupid; in fact, more stupid than a gaggle of Stooges, albeit less funny. What could Puno and company been thinking carrying out the "lockdown"(the term preferred by the people behind the fiasco), with uniformed police officers in tow? That's just as discreet as Mommy Dionisia about her Hermes bag!