A short visit to Butuan City

I didn’t have a lot of time to fully experience Butuan, but here’s what I got after 2 days.


A colleague was set to get married in Butuan January 25, 2014. Knew about it around November 2013 and since I also had a friend in Butuan, bought myself roundtrip tickets and shrugged. Let 2014 be the year of the horse. I put on my horse legs and I’m travelling like an equine with wings this year.

Arrived Saturday morning on the 25th of January at Bancasi Airport (BXU) and since the wedding was still late in the afternoon, decided to take a tour around Butuan with my buddy Lavin.

BXU maybe mostly rural city but it’s got quite a couple of huge convenience stores. Branches of Berry Mart and VRoss markets are placed throughout town. Not to mention the supermarkets in the Robinson and Gaisano malls. We got some supplies and set out to visit any museum we could find. Because Lavin has never been to any of those, even if he grew up in Butuan. What a guy.

The Butuan National Musuem

Quite an interesting place, the museum is filled with artifacts dug up from Butuan’s grounds.

Figurines. 2 headless women holding infants at the sides, and one Sawankhalok in the middle.

There were a lot of stones, pottery, primitive tools, animal remains, and jewelry but what really got my attention were three things: the balanghay boat, the death mask, and the forehead modification.

The Balangay or Butuan boat is a plank boat adjoined by a carved-out plank edged through pins and dowels. It was first mentioned in the 16th Century in the Chronicles of Pigafetta, and is known as the oldest watercraft found in the Philippines.
A miniature balanghay boat complete with miniature paddle, sail, anchor, vase, wooden chest.

This is the death mask. In the ancient times of Butuan, they adorned the eyes, nose, and mouth of the deceased with thin strips of gold. Amazing.


Also, vanity was not scarce back in ancient Butuan times. It even got so bad, it included deforming the skull to represent social status. Word is the word. Prepare to see a skull. Too late, it’s already in view!

If you look closely, the forehead is flatter and more broad. The back of the skull is also much higher than normal.

Here’s a bonus. If you haven’t heard of him, Lolong is a recently deceased 20 foot crocodile that weighted over a thousand kilograms! He was the largest crocodile that was ever in captivity.

Lolong. May his old, gentle soul rest in peace.

I arrived with awesome timing that day. It was the Saturday they were preparing to move his body parts (head and skin) to Manila for mummification/stuffing. And I got to take a glance at his frozen head! His whole head took up the space of a chest freezer. A chest freezer! Added a peso coin for scale.

After the short trip to the museum, it was time for some curry lunch and then went off to the wedding! Well… I’m too tired right now. Will continue details in another post. Stay tuned!

Update 2014/04/02: The second part has been written! *thunder*

You can check my BXU Facebook album for more photos.