The Pyramids of Balabac and Palawan Islands in the Philippines
: A Roman connection?
Press Release and Summary:
In May 2014, several large stone pyramid like structures and several huge sculptures were found in the Philippines
. These were found, or perhaps rediscovered, on the islands of Balabac and Palawan. According to amateur researcher Philip Maise “There is no question that these are both man made and quite old. Exactly how old will have to be left to the experts.” Maise has been intentionally looking for signs of ancient man in S.E. Asia
. Normally, Maise does not release information to the public. It his belief that keeping things quiet helps protect ancient sites. Information about these sites is being released owing to the fact they are already being actively damaged by both nature and man. It is hope that this announcement will spur others to help maintain them.
Maise specifically wishes it to be known that all of these sites are of great cultural and potential tourism value. He highly encourages local governments to move quickly to protect them. Some that hear of these sites may attempt to plunder them. Maise has already met personal with town officials in Balabac and the Philippines Museum.
Surprisingly, Maise claims that these fantastic finds were right in plan view and all that was required was someone to recognize what they were looking at. Three of the sites are right within the town of Balabac on Balabac Island. According to Maise “Residents passed by the walls everyday and thought they were simply stone cliffs. No one seems to have ever looked carefully and noticed they were perfectly square in areas, or that they didn’t match the local rock.”
Maise concluded that most sites he found served a simple purpose. They were retaining walls to hold back the loose fill of a volcanic hill, or they were the base of an ancient light house. One very different site on Palawan appears to be a temple to a Roman emperor. It may be almost 2,000 years old. Much of the stone appears to be an ancient form of concrete believed to have been invented by the Romans. Furhter, the stylized texturing in the concrete was observed in ancient Rome.
In another press release Maise plans to soon announce his discovery of incredbile cave paintings found at another site.
S.V. HOT BuOYS
Letter from Philip Maise
My name is Philip Maise. I am a US citizen from Hawaii
and travel remote
areas aboard my sailboat called HOT BuOYS. In addition to sailing I like to promote a return to more traditional food
crops based upon taro (gabi), and like to look for evidence of ancient man.
Until this document, neither I, nor my crew, have informed the public of my findings. What I find, how I find it, and what I see has been kept from the public eye. Up till this point I was only planning to release information in the form of a technical paper to the American Society of Archeology (ASA). I have been advertising a position aboard my boat
for a professional marine
archeologist to help with that paper. However, none have expressed interest. Please consider anything I write as coming from an amateur. Yes, this document is specifically intended to invoke controversy. It is my hope that this controversy will help spur governments to quickly act to preserve what I believe to be national treasures. What I believe to be some of the greatest national treasures of the Philippines should not be left open to damage. It is time the Philippines woke up to the fact that it used to have a far greater and richer culture than most people thing. The history
of the Philippines did not begin with the arrival of the Spanish.
In the past, it has been my belief that the best way to protect these sites for the future was to keep quiet. However, both nature and man are rapidly destroying several significant areas. Nature is breaking apart walls by growing trees, sending earthquakes, and using water
to create hydrostatic pressure. Man is destroying sites in the search of gold.
It is my hope that by disclosing these sites interested parties will step forward that have a desire to protect them. Protecting sites in the Philippines will be a challenge. Some areas are remote
and poor. It is such a contrast to see these magnificent complexes against the current
local economy. In Palawan and next to one site, a 20 year-old fisherman desperately needed to get to a hospital to save his badly infected arm and his life. However, putting together $10 USD to get to town was beyond his means. We gave him the money
to get to town to see a doctor and gave him antibiotics. In Balabac we observed another fisherman using dynamite on reefs
that are supposed to be protected. Obtaining a few fish
easily today at the expense of destroying the reef isn't a concept
that is well understood here. Further, if you thought making dug out canoes from a single
tree trunk was a thing of the past, come to the Philippines.
I wish to stress that all sites are incredibly valuable. However, don't expect to find gold. These were not pyramids like in Egypt
. They are simply big structures that served a purpose. To all my Filipino friends... please, please give up on the local myth that the Japanese went around stashing gold everywhere. It is a myth. By looking for it around these structures, all you are doing is destroying their real value. Keeping these structures in tact is where the real potential is. That wealth will come in the pockets of tourists and researchers from around the world that will want to see for themselves. You will have jobs taking them there, feeding them, housing them, and making sure they don't ruin them.
Before any tourists or researchers venture out please be aware of the conditions you will encounter. I have been able to get to these places on my own since I have my own sailboat. My vessel carries our food
, and makes its own electricity. Further, it is staffed by paid local Filipino crew members . My crew are both mariners and Cosquce Mountaineers. Once I slid 100 meters down the slope. Where I go to find these places is sometimes clearly dangerous.
There is nothing magical about how I find these ancient places. I look at the local geography, apply logic, and search for clues in the local geology and terrain. Since I have my own vessel I can travel anywhere along the sea, dive under the sea with SCUBA gear
, and hike inland. You must dispell any notion that the world’s greatest civilizations were in Europe
. The plan fact is based upon what I have been finding places like the Philippines had a very large advanced society long before the Spanish arrived.
One odd thing I ask of any future researches is to respect the ancients. To me, there really is something called the ancient spirits. Sometimes the places I go trigger an odd feeling. Once I had a strong impression coming down a hill that I must have missed something. This feeling drew me back up the hill and not away. It was only on the second look that I figured out that the huge boulders I had been looking at were not randomly arranged. Feelings sometime inform me that something bad has occurred. It is a feeling that informs me to back away and take no pictures. Once I was looking kayaking along the shore and closely looking at the cliff faces. At one section I said no pictures. Since he lived near these cliffs he was very interested why. I found out something bad had occurred there and it was fairly recently. I am not expecting you to have the same senses as I do, however, I do expect you to respect the local people and the sites themselves. Heed the word nangisog. It roughly translates into forbidden in English
and better translates into Hawaiian as kapu. There are two areas in the Philippines like this in the Philippines. One is on Palawan and one is on Negros.
To the Local, State, and Federal Governments of the Philippines: Except for two special items, I have not removed or damaged any items in any of the sites identified. One item removed from a site appears to be a geode. Owing to the location of these stones they appear to have been highly regarded by those that built the pyramids. I removed it since I feared it would quickly go astray. It was taken to the Balabac City Hall and is now in the offices of the City Engineer
. I personally took that engineer
to the sites so he could start getting an idea what would be necessary to protect the walls of the pyramids from further damages, and damages by tourists. He promised to inform the Balabac police regarding the gold diggers found at Balabac Site No. 4. Gold digging at Balabac Site No. 1 has not been as destructive yet. The second item was removed from Palawan Site No. 2. It is an example of a finely shaped stone used in the wall construction. It was sitting loose on the slope. It was delivered to the staff at the Tabon Caves Museum in Quezon Palawan on May 19th, 2014. There is another site I have not discussed here that is endanger of being bulldozed to build a new resort on Mactan Island. That property is still for sale
To Non-Philippine Governments: I will continue to honor agreements that are in place. The ancient sites I identified will continue to be hushed unless they face similar threats as these in the Philippines.
To any Archeological Society or Museum Staff: If you have an interest in joining me on my travels it would be great if you could catalog the sites and help map them. Further, all dating of the sites is left in your capable hands. A skilled diver, and experienced mountaineering,that is trained in archaeology, geology, and surveying is best.
To Foundations and Corporations:
Currently all of my work
if privately funded. Privately as in my last savings and private loans. Sponsorship would be welcome. A very large sailboat always requires something.
To Hans and Roz Berkhoven:
Thank you for getting me hooked on ancient history
. Maybe someday the pilot for Maritime Mystery Explorers will be picked up. I'm not holding my breath. TV seems more interested in unreality shows then reality. Have you found your quota of ancient sites this year?
12-118 Kipuka Street,
Pahoa Hawaii, USA 96778
Questions and Answers:
Q. How where the Pyramids of Balabac Island found?
For the last 5 years my hobby has been to study ancient cultures by looking for evidence that it existed. I stopped into Balabac while doing a circumnavigation
of Palawan. I wasn't expecting to locate sites right within an existing town. However, stone slabs along the roadway caught my eye. I thought at first they were broken up slabs of concrete. However, on closer look I concluded they were sedimentary stone. Sedimentary rock stood out in this of Balabac since that part is volcanic. All rock should be basalt. Balabac's volcano, while very small, is still active. As recently as two years ago it coughed up some nasty sulfur gas. During my inspection
I found two mudpots that showed recent activity. At first I was just interested how sedimentary rock was appearing right next to a volcano. This led me to further investigations and the eventual conclusion that what appeared to be a huge stone wall next to the road was man made.
Q. Where did the stone come used to make the pyramid come from?
of Balabac may be sedimentary rock. However, the volcanic activity there led me to believe it was imported from nearby Palawan. Rock on Southern Palawan dates between 10 to 30 million years. It is rock that has been pushed upward as two tectonic plates colloid. Inclusions of what are believed to be geodes in the stone slabs further indicate that the rock used to make this pyramid came from the ocean bed
Q. If the stone is not from Balabac, how did it get there?
The answer to this question depends on when the pyramid was built and where the rock came from. It could have been by sea or by land. The pyramids are located right along the sea. This implies they were shipped in. However, even if they came from neighboring islands, they could have been brought across land if they were built during the last ice age.
Q. How were they built?
It appears the builders first located a suitable hill. Based upon the location of the sites, the most desired hills were those at the entrances to harbors. In front of the hill they laid down a rather thick stone roadway. Then along the hill they laid layer after layer of blocks that each leaned towards the hill. If there was a gap between the hill and the blocks they simply filled it in with loose fill from the hill.
Q. How certain are you that these were manufactured pyramids and not natural rock formations?
Very certain. There are too many stone slabs that are ideally laid in a manner exactly as a modern retaining wall is built today. Further, the walls are straight and form neat 90 degree angles at the end. In some locations, the stones themselves are carved with animal designs, and three dimensional sea animals
and elephants tend to appear at the base of some pyramids. If the stone slabs were part of a natural stone cliff, one would expect to find stone behind stone. However, at most there is just one or two layers of stone with dirt and loose fill behind.
Q. When were they built?
Any organic matter trapped during construction behind the walls can be carbon dated. Experts are needed for this. Somethings I can say is that owing to the various states of decay, it is obvious that some were either built much better or are much are much younger. Either Balabac Site No. B1 appears to be the most recent and well constructed. Balabac No. B4 or Palawan No. P1 are probably the oldest. For reasons I go into later, I believe much of site P2 might date to between 200 AD and 350 AD.
Q. Briefly where are these sites?
Balabac sites No. B1 to No. B5 are all located around the harbor located at GPS
7 60' N and 117 4' E.
Sites No. B1, No. B2, and No. B3 are on the South shore in town and numbered from East to West.
Site No. B1 appears to be the most in tact structure and made from sedimentary stone with inclusions of what are believed to be geodes. The gold digger on Site No. 1 has excavated a shallow area about 6 square meters and is now about 1 meter deep. His last activity appears to be about 6 months ago.
Site No. B2 appears to be very old and basalt rock. Not very much remains of this one. It is located West of Site No. B1.
Site No. B3 is again sedimentary but in much better shape. This said, some major stones have been pushed outwards by hydrostatic pressures or the recent earthquake in Bohol. When these stones fall, the houses below may be in danger
. There is no gold digger working the top. This fact may be due to a cell phone
tower at the top.
Site No. B4 is across the bay on the North corner at the entrance. There is little left to confirm it is an ancient site. The shape and carved stone boulders at the sea level are the best clues. An active gold digger is really convinced there must be potential. He has dug a large circular hole about 4 meters in diameter. He is now down 3 meters. He must be getting frustrated by now. All he keeps getting is more and more loose fill.
Site No. B5 was only examined by sea. It is on the South corner of the bay's entrance. It has the same approximate size and shape as Sites No. 1 and No. 2. The top third may have been sheared off to build a modern structure.
Site No. P1a and P1b are on Palawan at approximately 08 37 N and 117 15.5 E. P1a features a very large crocodile head
that points North. Gold diggers have been searching around the foundation of the head
and it is likely they have disrupted enough soil to cause the entire sculpture to fall into the sea. The head itself is in only fair condition. The first 1/3 of the crocodiles face has fallen away. The pyramid is a few meters to the South of the head.
Site No. P2a - P2f are all part of an extensive complex located near 08 43 N and 117 20 E.
P2a is the Northern most item. It is clearly a very large crocodile head. The sides of the head are decorated with other animals
. Laying prone on the nose of the crocodile is something that seems out of place. It kind of looks like a stone robot seen in a science fiction movies. Or rather, it is perhaps a stone rendition of what a heavy set man appears like when they where the extremely billowing shirts and trousers that were popular long ago. It is located right at sea level and shows remarkably very little erosion. This said, eventually it should be moved to higher ground.
P2b, P2c and P2d appear to be several pyramid structures starting in the North and heading South along the hill side. Exactly how many separate pyramids wasn't determined. The more Southern pyramids feature larger stone slabs. The more Northern pyramids are more in tact and more highly decorated. Besides animal carvings, many stones have what appear to be directional arrows. I usually found these arrows pointing upwards. My guess is they were intended to help tell workers which way the stones should be installed. Further, almost all stones seemed to be marked with a cross hatched pattern.
The Southern pyramids also feature fewer animal carvings. The reason may be due to a visibly higher degree of erosion. These pyramids have areas that might have been burial chambers. These are small cave like incursions into the hill located at sea level. I inspected them and found them void of any decoration. The walls were rounded from erosion.
Recently, the wall of pyramid P2d suffered considerable damage. A large tree had grown near the top. When the tree fell, roots extending downward behind the wall, must have helped dislodge a large section of the wall.
Site No. P2e is by far the largest rock sculpture of all the sites. It appears to be the bust of a man. Alternately it may be the entire figure of a man seated at a throne. An incredibly large head appears to be sitting along side. It appears to be suffering from unusual erosion. Instead of eroding from the outside in, it appears to be eroding from the inside out. The inner rock appears to be softer than the outer rock. There is a high amount of erosion on the base of the bust. This area about 1 to 2 meters above the current
high sea water levels. Wave action and water erosion is the more likely caused it. Since the eroded areas are about 1 to 2 meters above the current sea level, it might be possible to get an idea of how old they are. After looking on the Internet
I found a rather good technical paper that reported that the water levels around the world were 1 to 2 meters higher between 200 and 400 A.D. Orientation of the bust appears to be due West and may have some significance.
One of the biggest problems with the bust sculpture is it will be readily damaged by tourists who will attempt to climb it. The delicate remaining sections that appear to be the lower jaw would break away easily. Further the inner soft sandstone will be an attraction to those that can't resist trying to inform the world that “Joe was here 2014”. Fortunately, only one Joe seems to have found this bust, and I don't deface works of art.
Near the bust there appears to be the foundation stone of a very large pyramid. By taking measurements and finding the angle of the remaining corner, it would be possible to determine the scale of that pyramid.
Site No. P2f is around the corner and will provoke much controversy. It is clearly a huge vertical wall. Whether it was a wall within a pyramid, or the wall of an entirely different structure will take a while to figure out. Divers will be necessary to look into the waters around the wall for remaining foundations of a building of a huge scale. The wall is decorated with elephants, and rows of elephants are to the left of the wall.
The Roman connection
I have concluded there is only one logical explanation to account for what I was looking at. The recent it looked likes a hard stone has been poured on top of a weaker stone substrate is that the hard layer isn't stone. It is an ancient form of concrete. rm of cement, or may have been made entirely of ancient cement. If the builders of the pyramids used an early form of concrete, it would account for several things:
Some stone slabs interlock too closely. They appear to have been formed in place.
What I believe to have been geodes trapped in sedimentary rock, may simply have been rounded stones set into wet cement.
Last year, on a different Philippine island, I found the side of a whole hill coated in what looked like a 2 to 3 cm thick layer of concrete. My initial thoughts were this covering had to be volcanic in origin. I thought it was convenient since it prevented soil erosion and helped increase the amount of water that flowed to the ancient taro (gabi) patches below. Now after seeing a similar hard coating poured on top of sandstone rock, I suspect I was looking at ancient concrete.
Most of P2a appear to have stones cut with a herringbone pattern. Just such a pattern was documented as being opus spicatum and used in Roman construction.
Overall experiencing P2 is a real out of the box experience. Overall, it reminds me of the movie
the Planet of the Apes. Monkeys are living at the site now and the bust kind of looks like one.
Since I am may be establishing a numbering system for these ancient sites, I am leaving a gap in the numbers. There may be more associated with P2 that warrant additional numbers. Specifically there appears to be a creek that was diverted to provide fresh water to the site. That would have been convenient for workers during construction and served visitors. Further there appears to be an ancient road leading up to the site from behind.
Sites P20 and P21 are two sites that warranted investigation however a storm came up right when I was about to anchor
near by. The general area is 08 52.5 N and 117 28.75 E. Both are at the entrance to a large harbor. P4 is to the North and now sports a cell phone
tower. P3 is to the South. It may be just coincidental, however, a very large pyramid shaped hill is on the mainland area about ˝ way between the two.
Site P22 appears to be an ancient stone pier that is approximately 250 meters long. It is in fact right near where my vessel is currently anchored at: 08 59 N and 117 50 E.
Site P23 is approximately 3 nm to the North and may be another pyramid located along the shore. I have not yet investigated that one closely either.
Site P24-P29 numbers saved.
Site P30 appears to be several giant statues along a cliff face. Since it is not under threat, its location is also not discussed here. The caves into this cliff face appear to contain writings and it is a dangerous SCUBA
dive into one of them.
Q. Were the Romans in the Philippines?
Since the Romans were ruling much of Asia
Minor, and the Arabs were in turn trading with China
and the Philippines it is entirely possible someone who knew how to make Roman cement made it the Philippines long before the Spanish did. A Roman connection would account some of the other riddles I have been working on. At another site I have not yet disclosed I have found artwork that is far too European. The reason it looks like it was European in origin may have a simple answer. It was of European origin. Who the bust is of may be an ancient Roman emperor. This is in line with a practice called emperor worship. This began in Asia Minor during the reign of emperor Augustus and “temples erected in his honor sprang up across Asia province.” The practice of emperor worship was ended by Theodosius. Source Wikipedia.
The Roman connection would also explain why the walls within Balabac town appear to be built like well engineered retaining walls. That may have been the intent all along. The reddish color of Site No. B2 may simply be due to the use of local aggregate from the local volcanic rock. The white color of Site No. 1 and No. 2 may be due to bringing in white aggregate.
Further, at Site No. 1 there is a vertical gap in the face of the wall. This could be simply a space intentionally added so water could escape from behind the wall to reduce hydrostatic pressure.
It is my hope that these facts get adequately translated and distributed to the people of Balabac. There is no giant pot of gold located within these pyramids. These are simply walls used to hold back the hill side that were built long ago. They were built so well and so long ago that nobody remembers that they were built.
Further, the conclusion that the pyramids in Palawan may have been part of an elaborate temple to a Roman emperor account for the fact that what were intially thought to be burial chambers at the bottom looked the way they do. They are not ornate, not square, and made by the action of waves that are undercutting the walls.
Some background about Balabac Island
Balabac is a very special island. It is in the Balabac strait between Palawan Island in the Philippines and Borneo Island in Malaysia/Indonesia. The island has a large area to grow crops to support a large population. It has a protected port that is continuing to do exactly what it did for thousands of years. The port is a safe anchorage for ships traveling between two very large islands. This is exactly why I stopped there.
Further, the waters near Balabac are deep. Even during the last two ice ages when seas where approximately 100 meters lower, the port of Balabac would still have been open. The port was open to provide access to food from the seas, protection for sailboats, and no doubt trade
. It is quite possible the points of the pyramids are merely the tips of the iceberg. Balabac bay and surrounding water have all the makings of a former giant city and seat of power.
I am well aware that what I write here my drastically change the tiny town of Balabac island. While I was there for three days I failed to see a single
tourist. The only other visitor to the island was a fellow yacht owner I already knew.
Will thousands of tourists per day begin to flock to Balabac to see what I saw? Maybe. Will they come if the final conclusion is that these are simply large retaining walls? Probably not. When I took the city of Balabac's engineer to see the walls it was to give him an idea about what will be needed to be done to maintain the walls. Whether or not tourists will flock to them is questionable. Unfortunately, the greatest risk they face is neglect and locals searching for gold. Sadly, if we can't get Balabac residents to stop using dynamite on pristine reefs
, I don't think we can stop the diggers.
1.A detailed analysis of the sites should be made immediately to preserve a record
of the as-is condition. This should include thousands of images
, measurements, coordinates, and a detailed survey
. Material types, angles, elevations, and lengths will help determine the size and shapes of the original structures.
2.A detailed examination of existing records should be made to locate any mention by travelers that had seen the sites before. It is hard to believe I am the first one to ever record
these sites. Already have done Google
searches and looked in tourism books
and can find no modern record. A good old search in old libraries is in order.
3.The pyramids/retaining walls of Balabac and Palawan island need to be maintained if all the work
that went in to making them will survive. The trees growing too close to the walls, or within gaps in the broken walls should be removed.. In their place some vegetation needs to be reestablished to prevent erosion of the hillsides. The trees at the top should be fine. Please take into consideration the troops of monkeys at both No. B1 and P2 and keep as many trees as possible and plant vegetation that may serve as a food source. The monkeys I observed living on site P2 were the largest I have seen on my travels in S.E. Asia.
4.It would be good to answer the question exactly what is stone and what is concrete. Certainly, many of the sculptures at the sea side are in stone, however, the largest ones appear to be concrete. Some of the pyramid like structures may be either stone or concrete. Samples from the City of Balabac Engineer's office should answer for Balabac. The single sample I am delivering to the museum on Palawan will only answer part of the construction of No. P2.
5.I believe it may be necessary to do extensive work on Site No. B3 to prevent some large slabs from coming down. Some weep holes drilled into the wall would reduce any hydrostatic pressures. However, long term it will be necessary to dig from behind the wall and carefully take blocks down, and then restack. Please extend my apologizes to the nice family
that granted me access to their garden. A little compensation to them during the work would be greatly appreciated so they can restore that garden.
6.In Palawan Sites No. 1 and No. 2 are so remote that they will be difficult to protect. It will be necessary to strike a balance. Obviously restoration
and preservation will take funding
. Opening these areas up to tourists will require infrastructure like handrails, walkways, roads and bridges. I have one idea on how to help fund it. While it is simply to agree to provide me with the first right to purchase
the largest stone sculputres. I will in turn will of course resell that right upon conditions we agree upon. The net result will be I gain some compenstation for finding these national treasures and the Philippines gains the funds to preserve them and increase tourism. It is true that the largest stones would be sent out around the world, however, they are being damaged now, and copies can be made to install locally.
Q. Where is this great civilization that supposedly built these structures.
My theory is that Western people introduced diseases that the local population could not withstand.
Q. Where do you go from here?
One question I am looking to answer is where were the big cities. There is a valley on a different Philippine island that gave me pause. It is way up on the slopes of a large volcano, however, something is out of place. I just haven't figured it out yet. I am also headed to Iloilo. I've been there before, but didn’t go looking. This time I am going with a team to a remote interior