Author: National Museum of the Philippines

Fossils in Paleoclimate Studies

Did you know that scientists can reconstruct the Earth’s past climates thousands to millions of years ago? 

As we celebrate Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week (Nov 19-25), let us learn how fossils are used in determining ancient climates and how they teach us about climate change. 

The study of past climate is known as Paleoclimatology. While we can’t go back to the past to see what the ancient climates were, luckily, nature has provided us with climate proxies. These proxies are imprints from our past that preserve our climatic history. Some proxies that we use in paleoclimate studies include shelled organisms and plant fossils. 

One standard method for determining ancient climates is by analyzing the chemical composition of shells of fossilized marine animals like forams (shelled microorganisms). The oxygen isotopes in shells give an indication of the temperature changes in the ocean over the last millions of years. Their abundance may also indicate ancient environmental conditions, wherein they typically proliferate in warmer weather.  Clamshells also have annual growth bands. The space between each band depends on the environmental conditions during the time when the growth bands were forming. 

Meanwhile, we know that plants cannot root in an inhospitable environment.  In each environment, they develop specific characteristics to help them adapt and survive.  These make them a reliable indicator of their climate and ecology. Typically, plants in tropical regions have smoother and larger edges, while plants that live in cooler regions are more jagged and have smaller leaves. When these are fossilized, we can get an idea of what climate they lived in. 

The Earth’s climate changes over the past millions of years are due to several factors operating together. The changes in the position of continents may close off or open up new routes of ocean currents, which can then change the distribution of temperature over the Earth’s surface.  Sea-level changes in response to mountain building and continental drift may have also caused paleoclimate changes. Generally, the sea level is high in times of warmth. Other factors that contribute to climate change include variations in atmospheric chemistry and the Earth’s orbital position to the Sun. 

The Earth’s climate has undergone extreme changes over its geologic history. And by studying past climates through fossils, we can better understand how climate will change in the future. 

Text and image by the NMP Geology and Paleontology Division

© National Museum of the Philippines (2022)


As we come to the close of our celebration of Museum and Galleries Month, we also commemorate the 60th anniversary of archaeological research at the Tabon Cave Complex in Quezon, Palawan. 

The Tabon Cave Complex (or simply Tabon Caves) was discovered by Robert Fox and the National Museum team during their exploration of the limestone formations in the municipality of Quezon. Interviews with the Pala’wan informants led them to explore Lipuun Point, where they discovered several caves rich with archaeological materials scattered on the floor. 

Among these caves is the magnificent Tabon Cave, where the earliest direct evidence of modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) in the Philippines was recovered. The fossilized skull cap and the tibia (leg bone) fragment were among the remains found in Tabon Cave, which were declared as National Cultural Treasures (or NCTs). Other outstanding artifacts recovered from the Tabon Caves were the Manunggul Secondary Burial Jar, jade lingling-o ornaments, and the Duyong shell adze – all of which were also declared as NCTs.

To mark the commemoration of this landmark exploration, our Archaeology Division, will open an exhibition titled Stories of Origins: The Beginnings of Archaeology at the Tabon Caves at the NMP-Tabon Caves Site Museum in Quezon, Palawan. The Stories of Origins exhibit will take you back to the early stages of the Tabon cave excavations through a series of photographs from the archives of the Archaeology Division, taken from 1962 to 1970. It will also showcase selected archaeological objects recovered from early archaeological investigations conducted. 

The Stories of Origins opens on October 28, 2022.


Article, photo, and posters by Timothy James Vitales | NMP Archaeology Division

© 2022 National Museum of the Philippines

Senior Citizens in Nature Craft Workshop

As the National Museum of the Philippines gears toward a universally inclusive and accessible museum, the Botany and National Herbarium will conduct a “Senior Citizens in Nature Art Workshop” which aims to engage the elderly in nature-based activities that will enhance their appreciation of other significant use of plant structures, develop new skills for leisure and pastime, and create crafts that may also be utilized for livelihood. Selected members of the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs in local government units in Metro Manila will be invited to participate in the workshop with a special guided tour of the National Museum of Natural History on October 25, 2022.

Art Workshop with Arthur Tselishchev

Happy Museums and Galleries Month!

Join us for a FREE Drawing and Watercolor Workshop by Ukrainian artist Arthur Tselishchev at the President Sergio Osmeña Function Hall, Second Floor, National Museum of Fine Arts on the following dates.

October 25 | 9 am-4 pm – Charcoal and Sanguine Drawing

October 26 | 9 am-4 pm – Pen and ink drawing

October 27 | 9 am-4 pm – Watercolor Painting / Pastel Drawing

This art workshop is open to 17 years old and above with some background in drawing and painting. Slots are limited. It is on a first-come-first-served basis. Participants may choose an activity or participate in all the activities by registering through this link: or scan the QR code in the poster. 

Arthur Tselishchev is a Ukrainian visual artist. He is best known for his academic drawing and painting, urban and figure sketching, and digital painting. He earned First Class Diploma from an art school and a university degree with honors and had won international competitions. Tselishchev worked and travelled internationally and has launched exhibitions in the Philippines and abroad. He collaborates with architecture and design firms and conducts workshops for animators and artists. Tselishchev’s expertise in the visual arts is an excellent opportunity for other artists, students, and hobbyists to be mentored, learn and improve their skills in art.

MUCH Forum 2022: Best Practices in Illustration and Reconstruction of Submerged Archaeological Materials

Let’s get drawing!

Artifact illustration and reconstruction are important aspects for archaeological interpretation and examination. In celebration of Museums and Galleries Month this October, the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), through the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) Division, will be conducting the MUCH Forum 2022.

The MUCH Forum started in 2018 and continued as an annual activity which aims to highlight the significance of maritime archaeological studies and the protection and preservation of underwater cultural heritage (UCH) in the Philippines. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter of 2020, however, discontinued the said activity. Last year’s MUCH Forum was a lecture series on the concepts and significance of material analysis using X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy techniques. NMP researchers and technicians who specialize in the use of spectroscopy techniques were invited as lecturers. 

This year’s forum will showcase and share best practices in illustrating and reconstructing maritime and underwater cultural heritage specimens. Museum technicians from the MUCH Division with expertise in both traditional and digital illustrations will showcase the pre-reconstruction method (e.g. photography, line and perspective drawings, 3D rendering). A lecture and demonstration on reconstruction and restoration method will also be conducted by a museum technician from the Archaeology Division. This will focus on the principles of recapturing the art and story behind every archaeological material. 

The MUCH Forum 2022 is free and will be held on October 26, 2022, via Zoom and Facebook Live from 9:00 AM to 12:00 NN. 

Kindly register here: Please be informed that the forum can only accommodate a maximum of 90 participants on Zoom but the lectures can be watched live on Facebook. 

For other inquiries, you may reach the Museum Services Division at (02) 52702778 or you may email them at 

Public Opening and Lecture of Las Iglesias de Tierra Roja: Heritage Churches of the Cagayan Valley Region

In celebration of the Museums and Galleries Month 2022 and in partnership with the research of noted scholar, Dr. Javier Galvan Guijo, we are pleased to present “Las Iglesias de Tierra Roja: Heritage Churches of the Cagayan Valley Region” at the National Museum of Anthropology. 

This exhibition highlights the built heritage and enduring artistry of the churches of the Cagayan Valley, including features of archival drawings, architectural documentation, material samples, and exposition on the designs, traditions, and legacies of religious art and architecture in the country. We believe this to be a fitting venue to present to the nation the realities of architectural research that contributes to upholding and preserving unwavering monuments to Philippine-Spanish history and Filipino heritage and identity. 

And together with the exhibition opening, we are inviting attendees to a special lecture by Dr. Javier Galvan Guijo, providing an overview of Philippine built heritage during the Spanish colonial period in Northeastern Luzon. The lecture event will be held on Wednesday, October 26th, 2022 at the Ayala Hall located on the second floor of the National Museum of Anthropology, and will be concurrently streamed live via Zoom. Registration and further details at the following link:

Feel free to drop by the Reception Hall on the fourth floor of the National Museum of Anthropology to take in the rich architectural history and artistry of the nation! We are open Tuesdays to Sundays between 9AM and 6PM, and entrance is free! See you there!