Noel Hidalgo

Noel Hidalgo Tan

Archaeologist, 35

Studying the ruins of ancient civilisations, and getting down and dirty in an excavation site may not appeal to some, but for Noel Hidalgo Tan, it is a way of life. Speaking of his passion for his field, Tan — a senior specialist in archaeology at the Seameo Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts — says: “Archaeology is one of those fields where you can still make great ‘aha!’ discoveries…it’s inherently stimulating.” One such discovery by Tan was a 2010 find in the ruins of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. There, he uncovered some 200 never-before-seen paintings of deities, animals and musical instruments — his biggest haul yet. The PhD candidate at the Australian National University got his first brush with archaeology when he interviewed a curator from the National Museum of Singapore in 2003. His interest piqued, he subsequently volunteered for an excavation effort at St Andrew’s Cathedral, where he dug up centuries-old ceramic pieces in what he described as a “humbling” experience. The rest, shall we say, is history.