21 October 2011

The Calatagan Pot

In 1958 during an archeological dig in Calatagan, Batangas, Alfredo Evangelista discovered a clay pot with strange markings on them.

Since the discovery, this relic, its origin, translation, and even its purpose has been fiercely debated by experts. Philippine National Artist Guillermo Tolentino has even resorted to channeling ancient spirits thru a seance to discover the meanings behind the inscriptions. Tolentino is best known for his Oblation sculpture at the University of the Philippines.

There are some claims that the inscription is of Pangasinan origin. In a 2008 book by Dr. Eusebio Z. Dizon, Deciphered Secrets of Calatagan Pot Ancient Inscriptions, he notes that "..the Autronesian language by which the Calatagan pot scripts was written, was in a homogeneous and pure Pangasinan language same as what is spoken today, yet it was written in a 10th century Pangasinan.". The purpose of this Ancient Philippine relic is for a shaman or witch doctor to perform his/her rituals.

In the same year, Dr. Ramon Guillermo of UP, states that the pot's inscription is of tagalog origin and is used as a remembrance for a departed loved one.

Guillermo translates the inscription as:
Ina bisa kata -Sinikap sabihin ni ina
Guna kita payaba - Para sa iyo mahal kong anak
Dulang saya kau kain - Kumain ka sa aking dulang
Dada yang ‘ni manogi -Dibdib ko ‘tong mabango
Kita sana mabasah - Doon ika’y mabasa
Bagai ke bunga - Tulad ng bulaklak

In 2010, yet another expert has come up with a different theory. Myfel Paluga, head of the Social Sciences Department in UP Mindanao along with Dr. Guillermo (in a surprising turnaround from his 2008 theory) thinks that the pot is of Visayan origin. How and why it was discovered in Batangas cannot be explained thouroughly. According to them, the new translation may be a spell or a charm used by early babaylan or spiritual priestesses during a communal ritual.

Their translation:
Gana bisa kata - Makapangyarihan ang salita ni Gana
Duna kitay halabas -Mayroon tayong halabas
Yawa sala kakaga -Kasamaan, kahinaan, kasinungalingan
Yamyam la ni manugait - Bigkasin mo lamang ito (mga) babaylan
Kita sana magbasa - Basahin natin [itong mga senyas]
Barang kining banga -Kapangyarihan nitong banga!

Even dating the Philippine artifact is also as confusing. Carbon dating puts it at 2000 to 2500 BC (!). Despite this, experts do not accept this as fact and place the time at 10th Century for Dr. Dizon and 13th to 14th century for Dr. Guillermo. Why the carbon dating is not accepted is because the experts cannot explain how to align this with present knowledge hence they feel that the process was way off mark.

What we can be sure of, we have lots of ancient relics that point to a deeper origin of our culture than we can imagine. Why not enough research or interest is placed on these is the greatest mystery of all.