Scholars tackle Homo luzonensis

Cagayan Valley as host to ancient humans and Cordillera region as home to tribal groups who defied Spanish and Japanese subjugation.

Such were the themes of discussion during the National Research Council of the Philippines’ (NRCP) 2nd Public Lecture as part of the National Quincentennial Commemoration on July 15, 2021. Dr. Armand Salvador B. Mijares, Professor of Archaeology at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and Dr. Maria Nela B. Florendo, Professor of History at the University of the Philippines Baguio served as guest lecturers.

The said event is the second of a series of lectures which began in June 14 and will conclude on November 17 geared towards contributing awareness about the country’s history and pre-colonial heritage. Around 400 representatives from various sectors such as local government units, academe, NRCP members, and civil societies joined the discussions.

Homo luzonensis: A New Hominid Species

Mijares’ talk titled, “Homo luzonensis: New Species of Ancient Humans,” revolved on their journey towards discovering Homo luzonensis, a new hominid species which dates back around 50,000 to 67,000 years ago. He also presented the main characteristics of Homo luzonensis and the implications of the discovery.

He presented that the species has morphological features which are different from modern humans. Among its primitive features are longitudinal curvature of the shaft in lateral view, well developed flexor sheath, and articular angle.

“The discovery adds a new member to the genus Homo and makes Southeast Asia an important evolutionary research region,” shared Mijares, adding that the discovery raises more questions on the H. luzonensis’ lineage.

Cordillera region: Home of Unconquered Communities

In her talk titled, “The Pre-Colonial Period in the Cordilleran Historiography,” Florendo shared how different tribal groups collectively known as Igorots in the Cordillera region repulsed foreign invasion. This resistance allowed them to preserve their “rich and diverse cultural heritage.”

In one community called Lias for example, Florendo cited that the local warriors valiantly defended their people from a group of Spaniards who burned the village. She cited that many stories of local’s resistance like this are not recognized in history books.

Florendo added that while the Spanish conquistadors labeled the Igorots as backwards and primitive, they have existing social structures. Accordingly, the rice terraces across the region represent the Igorots engineering skills.

Likewise, Florendo commended the NRCP for taking an inclusive approach in it’s participation in the Quincentennial Commemoration.

NRCP-NQC Kabataan Painting Competition Launching

The 2nd Public Lecture also saw the launching of the NRCP-NQC Kabataan Painting Competition which targets college students nationwide. It aims to deepen the students’ understanding of the country’s national pride through the arts. Guidelines for the competition will be posted on the following website: https://nqc.nrcpvirtual.com/. Links for the upcoming lecture on August 18, 2021 will also be posted on the said website