5th Marianas History Conference Day 7 - 10

Page 201

Panel: Archaeology of Fishing Traditions

Fishing Weirs at the Edge of the Parian

Colonial Impacts on the Native Settlement of Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines

By John A. Peterson

University of San Carlos, Cebu, Philippines

Abstract: Cebu City was settled in 1565 after a brief and calamitous visit by Magellan 44 years earlier. Within a few decades the Spanish administration invited Chinese traders to settle in the Parian District at the northwestern fringe of the settlement. They filled and drained a marsh and built over what had been a native village at the edge of the marsh. In 1730 the Jesuit order built over the reclaimed land. The Jesuit House is currently being renovated and used as a museum. Archaeological excavations in support of the renovation have exposed the Spanish contact and pre-contact landscape that includes what may have been a pre-colonial fishing weir built in the marsh. We compare these fishing structures with stone weirs from Guam and Yap and fishing practices in the Micronesian region. We examine the ethnohistory and current practice of brush fishing corrals in use in the ancient and contemporary Philippines, as well as Visayan life ways in Cebu in the early modern era at contact with the Spanish colonial empire.


The Jesuit connection between Guam and Cebu began with the missionization of Guam by Diego Luis de San Vitores in 1668. By 1672 however the enterprise was faltering and de San Vitores was killed along with the novitiate Pedro Calungsod, a Visayan who may have been born in Ginatalan, Cebu. He was martyred in defense of de San Vitores in 1672. Guam continued to be administered from Cebu and eventually the Augustinian Bishopry of Cebu supervised the Diocese of Guam. The Jesuits continued mission activities until they were dispelled from the region in 1769. Their order was housed in the Parian of Cebu where the Jesuit House was built in 1730 (Figure 1).

The 1730s Jesuit House in the Parian District of Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines, is being restored to its original condition as part of a districtwide historical preservation program (Figure 2). A major part of the restoration was the replacement of molave house posts that had rotted at ground level. Archaeological excavations were conducted during the removal and replacement of footings for new posts. Well-preserved deposits in good stratigraphic order were found in the groundwater in an area that was formerly a marsh at the edge of the settlement. Asian export porcelain sherds from the Wan Li period were abundant in the zone 1.0 to 1.5 meters below surface dating to the late 16th century; below that older deposits dating back to 1000 CE were recovered. There is remarkable preservation of organic