Manunggul Festival

Manunggul Festival is a cultural festival and founding anniversary in Quezon, Palawan, Philippines every May 15.

History of Manunggul Festival

Manunggul Festival began in 2008. It was organized to coincide with the founding of the municipality of Quezon in 1951, celebrate unity and diversity of its people, and underscore the significance of the town in the context of Philippine anthropology through the artifact called Manunggul Jar.

Manunggul Jar

Manunggul Jar is a clay jar used for secondary burial that dates back between 890 and 710 BC. It is a National Cultural Treasure, and it is part of the collection on anthropology of the National Museum of the Philippines.

In March 1964, this archeological artifact was discovered in the Neolithic burial site in Chamber A of Manunggul Cave, one of over two hundred caves that constitute Tabon Cave Complex in Lipuun Point in Quezon located in southwest Palawan. The team who made the discovery included
Victor Decalan and United States Peace Corps.

Many historical discoveries, burial jars, and relics were unearthed from over three dozens of these caves. Taken all together, they shed light on roughly 50,000 years worth of history not only of the Philippines but also of Southeast Asia. The cave complex was declared a Site Museum Reservation by virtue of Proclamation No. 996 on April 11, 1972.

Collectively, these caves form part of the National Museum Tabon Cave Sites Museum.

Burial practices. The jar is a marvel of history, art, pottery, and prehistoric culture. It is a work indicative of the culture of the Austronesians, a maritime people who traveled the seas from Taiwan and migrated in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. They landed north in Batanes around 2000 BC and moved southward to the rest of the archipelago.

Their society expanded and grew, giving rise to intricate pottery-making and funerary customs. The dead was interred in what is called primary burial.

After the flesh was decomposed, the bones were washed and then laid to rest one more time (secondary burial) in wooden coffins, stone sarcophagi, or burial ceramic like Manunggul jar.

Finally, these final resting places were then interred in open sites and caves.

Work of art. Former head of the anthropology department of National Museum Dr. Robert Fox once remarked that the Manunggul Jar is “perhaps perhaps unrivalled in Southeast Asia, the work of an artist and a master potter.”

The jar measures about 26 inches and has a diameter of 20 inches. Upon its discovery, bones were found inside covered in red paint. It is wider in its middle section, tapering upward to the rim of its mouth and toward the bottom. Its lid and upper portion contain decorative wave-like scrolls that some interpret as representation of the waves.

The lid is perhaps the most recognizable, featuring two people sitting on the hull of a boat whose mast is missing; missing too is the blade of the steer. The two figures have coverings on their head and their jaws. On their faces are eyes (in the form of circles), nose, and open mouth.

By the boat’s stern a figure sits holding the shaft of the steer, and the feet are crossed around the missing mast. By its bow is the soul of the departed with arms crossed on the chest as though in an act of embracing oneself. The prow has a pair of eyes and mouth.

Afterlife. Manunggul jar establishes connection and similarities of rituals and funerary customs between the Philippines and Southeast Asia. It likewise reveals a lot about the beliefs surrounding the afterlife among Filipino ancestors.

The afterlife, or rather the journey towards it, was steeped in maritime culture. Seas were central to the way of life of pre-historic people as they were highways of travel and transport, and in this case the ultimate fate of those who died. Additionally, it was also believed that the soul of the departed would return to their home on board a boat.

History of Quezon, Palawan

The town of Quezon used to belong to the nearby municipality of Aborlan. It was called by various names throughout history. People refer to it as Magdaling-daling, Mono, and Tokus for they thought it was shrouded in magic. Afterwards, it was called Alfonso XIII.

Alfonso XIII was transformed into the seat of a new municipality called Quezon by virtue of Republic Act No. 617 that was approved on May 15, 1951 within the term of then President Elpidio Quirino. This is the date that Manunggul Festival commemorates yearly. The new town was composed of Alfonso XIII and Berong (from Aborlan), as well as Iraan, Candawaga and Canipaan (all from the nearby municipality of Brook’s Point).

On June 21, 1957, Republic Act No. 1773 was passed into law that transformed the following into full-fledged barrios: Aramaywan, Cadawaga, Calumpang, Campong-Ulay, Canipaan, Culasian, Isugod, Latud, Panalingaan, Ransang, Sawangan, Tabon, and Taburi.

Then on April 7, 1959, Republic Act No. 2131 became a law that created the barrio of Bunog that was composed of the following sitios: Bunog, Canikitan, Isugod, and Tagbuaya. Another reorganization took place on May 17, 1959 when Republic Act No. 2225 created two new barrios: Punta Baja (from Punta Baja and Malabunga) and Maasin.

In 1962, it was brought into prominence when the Tabon Man was discovered by the National Museum led by Dr. Robert B. Fox. Because of the staggering value of the findings, particularly the thousands-years-old human remains called the Tabon Man, it was touted as the Cradle of Civilization in the Philippines.

On April 14, 1983, Quezon was split and the new town of Marcos was created through Batas Pambansa Bilang 386. Its seat of government is in Punta Baja. It was renamed to Rizal by virtue of Republic Act No. 6652 on April 17, 1988.

The new town has the following constituent barrios: Bunog, Iraan, Punta Baja, Capung Ulay, Ramsang, Candawag, Culasian, Panalingaan, Tabuin, Latud, and Canipaan.

Manunggul Festival Activities

The calendar of activities of Manunggul Festival spanned between May 9 and May 15 in 2023. Events included parade, float, contests, live band, agro-trade fair, and beauty pageant (Manunggul Festival Queen).

How to reach Quezon, Palawan

Book a flight to Puerto Princesa Airport then take public transport to Quezon, which is about 100 kilometers away in a trip in excess of two hours.


Manunggul Festival Summary

NameManunggul Festival
CelebrationCulture, Founding Anniversary, History
DateMay 15
LocationQuezon, Palawan
OrganizerMunicipal Government of Quezon