HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY ON LAS PINAS SALT BEDS (IRASAN)
Marie Kristel A. Gabawa
University of the Philippines Diliman
The paper aims to recommend the excavation of the site that previously held the salt-making industry in Las Piñas. The site is situated near the coastal line of Manila Bay which played an tremendous role in the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade during the 16th to 19th century. To be able to appropriate this task, the paper will provide historical background, present conditions, and site proposal to yield the possibility of excavation. This is to determine the role and ownership of Las Pinas salt beds during the 18th - 19th century which will give light on the industrial progress of Las Pinas during colonial times. This paper will be using the history and interactions of past and present of salt beds as a primary source.
Project description & summary
The researcher proposes to conduct an archaeological site examination at Barangay Pulanglupa Uno, Bernabe Compound, Las Pinas City, located at the northwest border of Manila Bay. The site was a location to a 2-hectare (approx) of salt beds during the 16th - 19th century. According to the Las Pinas City website1, the location of where Las Pinas is at was a fishing village by which one produce is the salt. Salt were solar-dried in clay tiles or gibak that were shipped all the way from Vigan so that the salt would not touch the ground.
The site is currently built mostly with residential structures with a number of commercial establishments. The northwest side of the salt beds is the current Las Piñas Dump Site, and the south and southeastern sides are composed of residential/commercial area. First, this would necessitate an approval from the government of Las Pinas to do excavation especially that the surrounding site is a stable human settlement. There is also a need to formulate plans on the relocation of these settlements for the time of excavation. Second, a feasibility study and archaeological plan should be presented to the Villar Foundation, them being the owner of the 1
property. Engineer Dexter Gonzales from Villar Foundation said that the salt beds are only existent during summer. Due to the isolated rain showers of the season (July - November)2, they converted the salt beds into fish ponds. Lastly, since the northwest side of the site is a dump site, sanitation authority should do inspection before further excavation. Research problem
The paper tries to answer the question of the role and ownership of salt beds during the era of colonial trade. Were the salts produced traded? Were the salts produced exported to other parts of the Philippines and/or to other countries? The purpose of raising these questions is to identify the role of Las Pinas in the colonial trade. With this, the stunning question to ask is whether the salt beds were owned primarily by the locals in the mid-colonial era. The furtherance of this will also likely to determine the various industries that catapulted the urbanization in the area. Another important question the paper will try to answer is that if the salt beds turned into fish pond in the rainy season, does this signify the incapacity of the Manila Bay produce for sustenance among the inhabitants of the area of Las Pinas? During the dry season when the salt beds are in trend, did the inhabitants engage in other means for sustenance like vegetation or domesticating animals? With salt, were they create food specialty using preservation? With these questions, it will more or less answer the way of life of the inhabitants in area pre-urbanization. Most of the questions raised are answerable by doing excavation on the site and align it with existing literature. Previous work
Dealing first with the Manila Bay as a secondary focal point of the study, the researcher found a strategy study entitled “Manila Bay Coastal Strategy” released...
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