Gerona: Archeologists needed to reconstruct Bicol’s history

By Paulo DS. Papa


We will rely on our archeologists to reconstruct the history of Bicol region. Archeology is the only access for documents about Bicolano heritage before Spanish conquest, Bicolano historian Danilo Gerona said.

He disclosed the matter to Bicol Mail in an interview on deficiencies of historical accounts about Bicolano society, languages, and culture before Christianization in the early 1500s in relation to the celebration of the quincentennial anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s first contact with the natives.


About three years and three months ago in the church yard of Sto. Domingo, Camaligan, Camarines Sur, a group of archeologists from University of California in Los Angeles found pieces of porcelain jars made 1,500 years ago although narratives about ancient Bicolanos have yet to be written.


Gerona bared that during the pre-colonial era, Bicolanos usually wrote in bamboo branches. He added that during that time, ancient Bicolanos, unlike other native groups, never carved texts in stones and papers were not yet introduced.


He said the dominating narratives about Bicolano natives were written during Spanish exploration in the region although there are existing documents preserved and situated in Portugal calling Filipinos as “Luzones”.


Based from the documents, Luzones were influential traders throughout Southeast Asia, contrary to most narratives that our ancestors were just found roaming within the archipelago, he said. There is a document supporting an ancient Filipino as a market supervisor in Malaca designated by a higher authority.


Gerona revealed that there are existent documents about native Cebuanos pointing to the province of Albay as their source of gold. He said gold stocks in Albay were delivered thru the sea from Masbate and Catanduanes islands, while those from Paracale were shipped thru the Bicol River.


The gold from Camarines Norte was shipped via Bicol River. That’s why Naga City became one of the first four royal cities in Southeast Asia asides Manila, Cebu, and Villa Florandija in Ilocos province he said.