Oyster Hill and its treasure

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


LAGUINDINGAN – Coinciding with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)’s declaration of the month of May as Heritage Month, May 15, 2014 marked the date of the opening of Misamis Oriental’s latest ecotourism attraction – Oyster Hill which is located in Lapad, Laguindingan town in Misamis Oriental.

Misamis Oriental governor Vicente Yevgeny “Bambi” Emano, Laguindingan mayor Oliver Ubaub and Dr. Erlinda M. Burton, curator of the Xavier University Museum graced the province’s new eco-tourism destination.

Oyster shells
CAGAYAN DE ORO. A display of fossilized oyster shell. (Contributed photo)


While visitors can enjoy the site’s clean, fresh air in the hill’s landscape, nothing could be more beautiful than the seemingly unassuming pieces of limestone at the base of a hill, Oyster Hill’s fossilized oyster colony.

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What makes it special is preserving the colony of fossilized oysters as a natural heritage.

“Like all great inventions and discoveries, it was discovered by accident,” shares Engr. Raul B. Ilogon.


CAGAYAN DE ORO. Misamis Oriental governor Yevgeny Vicente Emano and Dr. Erlinda Burton, curator of Xavier University Museum put their palms on a wet cement to mark the opening of the Oyster Hill heritage place in Barangay Lapad in Laguindingan town in Misamis Oriental. (Contributed photo)


Fossils were first discovered in 1993 by Raul while he had been clearing the land to plant mango trees. Unfortunately, tourism and environmental awareness had still been in its developing stage and the family had at that time been unaware that they had stumbled upon pre-historic treasures, so many of the fossils and giant clams had been used as decorative items at their family restaurant. Emano, in his speech, thanked the family for this contribution to the province. He also shares that while he has personal interest in this natural heritage and furthered that the province is luck to have it readily available unlike in foreign countries where they pay for archaeologists to dig and find fossils.

Oyster Hill inauguration
CAGAYAN DE ORO. Dr. Erlinda Burton, curator of Xavier University Museum and who confirmed the authenticity of the fossilized oyster colony in Barangay Lapad, tells the visitors about the fossil oyster colony during the Oyster Hill inauguration in Barangay Lapad in Laguindingan town in Misamis Oriental on May 15. (Contributed photo)


Emano is optimistic that despite looming difficulty to sell it as a new eco-tourism destination, it would pay off in the future.

“There is hard work to do here, an Oyster Hill vs. a waterfall? A Filipino tourist will always go to a waterfall. An Oyster Hill vs. a hot spring? A Filipino tourist will always go to a hot spring.”

However, he hopes to change such preferences and believes that Dr. Erlinda M. Burton is the key to its promotion.

With rising awareness of tourism, the Ilogon family sought the help of Dr. Burton to check the authenticity of their find. Then, it was confirmed in September 2013.

“Just to give you a little bit of geology, this area used to be at the bottom of the sea," Dr. Burton said and added “The oyster fossils were formed 2 million-20,000 years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch of Quaternary Period. This meant that Lapad had once been 500ft above sea level and 15km away from the shoreline.”

Now, Oyster Hill is aiming at promoting awareness, education and appreciation for Mindanao’s natural heritage.

Mr. Ilogon ends the program with a quote, “We won’t know where we are going, if we don’t know where we are from. “

This isn’t the first archeological treasure found in Laguindingan. It was also in Laguindingan that the fossilized bones of a Stegodon from the Ice Age were found back in 2010. They can be found displayed at the Xavier University Museum. (Jan Michelle Dumlao-MUST Intern)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 18, 2014.

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