In 1965, Dr. Robert B. Fox discovered a unique artifact in Leta-Leta Cave at Lagen Island, El Nido, Philippines. This artifact is an earthen jar that resembles a yawning man. This is the reason why archaeologists called it “The Yawning Jar.” The said treasure in now under the care of the Philippine National Museum.

Estimated to have existed in 265 BC, the ancient piece deserves the same respect and prestige enjoyed by the Manunggul Jar, who now sits as icon of Philippine archaeology. Unfortunately, the said artifact remained hidden inside the four corners of the museum for four decades.

However, recent discoveries at Ille Cave prompted El Nido Municipal Tourism Office to push the Yawning Jar to the forefront of the municipality’s tourism industry. Being the symbol of El Nido’s rich archaeological finds, the yawning art piece hopes to lure visitors to Leta-Leta Cave, Ille Rockshelter and Sibaltan Open Site.

The meaning behind that yawn is still a puzzle for the experts. There is a hypothesis that it was accidentally deformed and the potter decided to mold it into a yawning face. Still the yawn remained a mystery. Perhaps, it asks for a bountiful harvest. And, I hope it’s not a symbol of a sleepy ancient tribe.

[Arvin L. Acosta, LGU]