The Gold Rush
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The Gold Rush

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The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush

Xavier Magazine

Ateneo de Cagayen

July to September 2011

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  • YES TO LIFE
    AGRICULTURE & ECO TOURISM
    No to mining in Palawan AND other
    Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)
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  • Ang yaman ng Palawan ay yaman ng Pilipinas It is known as the Philippines’ Last Ecological Frontier. It has 40% of our country’s remaining mangrove areas, 30% of our coral reefs, at least 17 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 8 declared Protected Areas (PAs). It is unmatched anywhere in the country
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    The Gold Rush The Gold Rush Document Transcript

    • 1 July to September 2011 Rouay? oelwdlli ing t p sh: echGe w Tohmu ar H wJULY - SEPTEMBER 2011
    • 12 13 T he Iponan River is orange. This waterway, which bounds Cagayan de Oro in the west and has its headwaters in the provinces of Bukidnon and Lanao, has been generously receiving mining runoffs for decades since the locals became impatient with traditional mining methods, and started using large pipes, gas pumps and machines to speed up their search for precious yellow metal. Mining for gold has been a source of livelihood for the people living in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro City. In the early days, the locals worked with pans to mine, but as new technologies were introduced by outsiders, hydraulic mining or hydraulicking became the top choice as it provided a quicker way to look for placer gold which abounds in the uplands of the city. This method involved blasting hillsides with huge volumes of water siphoned from the Iponan River through water hoses, then released through sluices where the gold got separated from the rocks and gravel. Although it offered a faster way of finding gold, it was also the most devastating as large chunks of rocks were washed downhill and carried to the streams that feed back to the Iponan River causing the river to turn turbid over time from siltation, erosion and sediment deposition. As a consequence, illegal small-scale hydraulic mining operations were stopped in1996; yet they found new life at the turn of the new millennium as prices of gold hovered at record highs. Despite efforts of the local government to curb mining operations, illegal small-scale mining has continued apace, and the Iponan River has become a lightning rod for criticism against unrestrained mining activities. Researchers at Xavier University are assessing the impact of hydraulic mining on the Iponan River andThe Price of its surrounding communities. The study, funded by the Kinaadman Research Center, the University’s arm for research and publication, looks at the issue from five angles: biological and physio-chemical, community resource variation, cultural and geopolitical, landslide risk assessment, and soil analysisGOLD and agricultural assessment.As gold prices reach record highs, mining operations areflourishing anew, but at what cost?By Vanessa Gorra XAVIER MAGAZINE JULY - SEPTEMBER 2011
    • 14 Cover Story Cover Story 15 High TSS can also mean higher about 50 percent of the people depend on concentrations of pollutants. The researchers farming, survey results show that half of the Mining is a family affair. observed the likelihood of organic pollution population is actually engaged in quarrying. in the Iponan River and its tributaries, which The small percentage of households The men dig and haul could affect the 1,014 macroinvertebrates engaged in farming find supplemental dirt while the women living there. Water samples from six income from quarrying. sampling sites tested positive for faecal and children segregate Mining is a family affair. The men dig and matter contamination and would thus rocks from the hauled haul dirt while the women and children require disinfection to become safe for drinking. segregate rocks from the hauled dirt. dirt. Body pains from Body pains from injuries are a common Severe erosion is found in Tumpagon complaint. Sometimes, there are deaths injuries are a common and Pigsag-an, barangays ensconced on from accidents, although most of the time complaint. Sometimes, mountainous terrains with varied landscapes these are unreported. In exchange, families and pronounced slopes. According to are able to serve food on the table, send their there are deaths from researchers from the College of Engineering, children to school, build larger and sturdier accidents, although most these areas fall within the landslide risk area. houses and buy furniture and new clothes. Hydraulic mining has changed the natural Sometimes, they invest in agriculture. of the time these are landscape and stability of the mountain. unreported.Rapid biological, physical and chemical Pits created from flush mining (about 50 ofassessment of the Iponan River and its them) left craters of 100-500 cubic meters,tributaries show poor ratings in terms of which could result in massive mudflows tovegetative protection and riparian (riverbank) of these areas are natural agriculturists, on crops and farming systems suited to church – coming together. For the worse the Iponan River. Silt deposits are estimatedvegetative zone width – the land directly having honed their farming skills through small land sizes, provision of quality water or for the better, what confront us are, on to be around 123 metric tons per year fromadjacent to the river – resulting in erosion, years and years of practice and experience. supplies, improved access to markets one hand, the accelerating environmental the upstream barangays. The volume ofone of the world’s biggest environmental Yet, they complain of being hampered by and micro credits, and alternative income problems affecting both upland and lowland bedload – particles that flow through theproblems, and bank instability. As the banks low agricultural productivity because they generating activities to wean the community communities in the larger context of stream along its bed – is around 44,000erode into the streams, sediment and cannot afford to buy farm inputs and high from their dependence on mining. All these climate change, and the growing pressure cubic meters. More than 80 percent ofnutrient loads increase and water quality yielding seed varieties. More importantly, things need to be put in place. on the upland population to earn incomes these materials are larger than 1 millimeterdiminishes. unsafe road conditions and irregular amid deteriorating economic conditions; and more than 50 percent are larger than Considering the complexity and the transportation from the uplands to the city and on the other hand, there is the fast 6 millimeters. They are mostly gravel that enormous work that must be done, theOne result of erosion is the high are the primary reasons residents prefer development of possible solutions as more got transported from the quarries in the success of interventions rests largely onconcentration of total suspended solids flush mining to farming where they need to and more sects get involved in the crusade midstream and downstream barangays. multiple stakeholders – the barangay(TSS) – the solids in water that can be transport farm products to the city to sell. to save our environment. Which will win the This great deal of sediments has helped turn authorities, government agencies, localtrapped by filters – recorded in the Iponan race? r the once clear water of the Iponan River into Fighting these bottlenecks won’t be easy. communities, academe, civil society, theRiver and its tributaries. Since high TSS the brown, grain-filled watercourse it is today. For a start, knowing the biophysico-chemicalcan block light from reaching submergedvegetation, photosynthesis is reduced and conditions of the land is imperative In a place where gold supposedly comesbottom dwelling plant growth is inhibited. in raising its productivity. Agricultural out of the earth, the people still only haveAquatic life is also adversely affected as assessment by researchers from the enough to make ends meet. Rapid appraisal Life for the inhabitants revolves aroundsettling sediments can occupy spaces that College of Agriculture reveals that organic of the socio-economic, socio-cultural and economic survival. Thus, at everycould have served as homes for aquatic matter and slope are the most important geo-political situation of the people living in opportunity, they shoot for the goldmine,organisms. factors affecting variability of the agro- the barangays of Tumpagon and Tuburan scouring the earth for every last deposit. ecosystem along the Iponan River. Suffice discloses that 90 percent of the households Economic development still takes priority to say that these two factors affect land earn just enough to support their daily despite glaring environmental degradation. productivity and need to be considered needs, and that only a mere 10 percent Locals cite the seasonal nature of agriculture, in determining agricultural management save. Majority of the locals here subsist on lack of capital, limited job opportunities and options. Interventions aimed at increasing mining. The residents were originally farmers low levels of education as justifiable reasons agricultural productivity, therefore, need who left farming 10 years ago because of low for resorting to illegal mining activities, to be site specific and should foremost income, ranging from P2,000 to P3,500 per undermining their mountains and river address the effect of organic matter and month. By contrast, each family member system. slope. Farming, apparently, is not a simple could earn between P200 and P300 per day doing small-scale mining activities. Ironically, the answer that offers the best process. solution also happens to be the one that Then, there’s the need for more agricultural Even in the highly agricultural community of poses the most challenges. Agriculture research and extension programs that focus Pagatpat, where FGD participants claim that still holds the key to growth. Residents XAVIER MAGAZINE JULY - SEPTEMBER 2011
    • 28 Feature Alumni 29 Q&A with Having finished my grade school and high school at Xavier, I took up visual of presentation. The husband could have surrendered a career to take [charge] of the award- communication [in the College of] Fine Arts at UP Diliman. It was a course centered on household or wanted the wife who loved her job so much to continue working. There are so winning advertising, animation, photography… all related to commercial art making. I studied many speculations. The important point that I wanted to make is that gender associated artist and my course for only two years. activities are passé. There are good things about this arrangement as well as negative XU alumnus How did you get started as a professional points. Our society is centered on status and artist? labels that our individualities are sometimes Jericho I was with Warner Studios and Mixing Plate Graphic Restaurant. I also did some surrendered. Vamenta apprentice time with master sculpture Jose Mendoza. I explored comics illustration Are your paintings mostly about social issues? X and graphic designs. When I was still in CDO, I believe an artist has a greater responsibility avier University High School class I and my girlfriend opened Karumata Bartique, to portray the times he’s lived in. It is not of 1993 graduate Jericho Valjusto an art venue and bar that survived for around enough to make beautiful pictures. The artist Vamenta took home the grand prize 3 years. We had to give it up to forward our has this role of adding up to the chronicles of in the Oil on Canvass category of career in the arts here in Manila. I’ve been his time ideas, outlooks, sentiments. A work the 2011 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence teaching summer art classes at the Museo must have substance and the way I tackle this (MADE) awards. de Oro for 16 years. It was just this year that I is through the most evident. Social issues declined to teach [because of] a project with reflect the times. The times we’re in now is MADE is an annual art competition the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, Cagayan getting more and more interesting. Change recognizing the outstanding work of young Valley. We [did] a relief sculpture memorial that is fast, so much to do and to talk about. I’m but promising sculptors, architects and was the landmark of the celebration of their very fortunate that I’m a Filipino. Every island interior designers. centennial as an Archdiocese. has a different culture and that would make Vamenta’s winning painting, “Ang Mrs Eden for interesting works. The comparative visual Your winning painting depicts the increasing Maleta sa Mundo ni Tatang Danilo,” depicts depiction of a place [is a way of] praising its phenomenon on “housebands.” What the contemporary issue of changing gender culture. r inspired you to paint something on the roles and the rise of stay-at-home husbands reversal of gender roles? (housebands). His work was recently featured Is there an XU alumnus/a you would like us in the September 2011 issue of Lifestyle Asia It is important for me to depict certain social to feature? Email commgroup@xu.edu.ph. Magazine. issues that we might overlook. As much as possible, I wanted to present the issue and Besides being the grand winner in MADE, not take personal sides or [show] biases. Vamenta is also a national finalist in the 2011- Such relationships might be beneficial and 2012 Philippine Art Awards. symbiotic to certain couples. Here, he talks about his artistic background, What [encouraged] me to make the work his inspiration and art as a medium for was that this [phenomenon of housebands] engaging social issues. is an actual everyday occurrence in the When did you discover your artistic ability? neighborhoods of Manila. One afternoon, while I was buying merienda, I overheard For as long as I can remember, I’ve been some children shouting or calling to a man, interested in drawing and clay modeling. As alias Tatang Danilo. They were stating that his you may know, my father is an artist (Jericho is wife was arriving, the Mrs Eden Maleta. The the son of Museo de Oro’s Albert Vamenta); Jericho Valjusto Vamenta, difference in their status and activity greatly watching him working and doing art perhaps XUHS 1993 undermines the way these two individuals influenced me greatly.“Ang Mrs Eden Maleta sa are labeled. Though they may belong to theMundo ni Tatang Danilo” What is your background? same household, society creates these levelsOil on Canvass 48” x 36” (HxW) XAVIER MAGAZINE JULY - SEPTEMBER 2011