Who Benefits From Gold Mining? NOT LOBO, BATANGAS!

Originally authored on September 24, 2015

Throughout history, our non-renewable mineral resources have enriched a few at the expense of the entire nation and our natural heritage. Fully aware of the massive consequences of mining, multi-sectoral groups denounced the pre-development works of Egerton Gold Phils., Inc, which had already drilled 173 holes for the exploration wherein each approximately 1 kilometer deep to check for gold deposits. The group sought the suspension of further drilling and cancellation of mining agreements involving the project. Lured by the promise of job opportunites, the barangay captains consented, not realizing what open-pit mining entailed. Lobo is home to 40,000 people as well as to Mount Baloi, a watershed that provides potable water for the province of Batangas. The process of separating minerals from ore by the use of mercury and lead would eventually mix with the water would endanger the lives of Batangueños. The contamination will also poison and kill marine life in rivers and lakes in the same area.

Why Should We Care If Mine Tailings Spill?

Originally authored on October 5, 2015

Dubbed as the heart of the Philippines, Marinduque is the geographical center of our country. Coincidentally, the island is shaped like a human heart, making its monicker quite fitting. However, it’s prolonged been ravaged at its very heart ever since the open-pit mining at Mt. Tapian in 1969 was used to produce copper concentrate. Placer Dome, a Canadian company, co-owned 40% and managed the corporation. Soon, several open pits were set-up, tunnels to drain, and dams were built to serve as storage of mine waste directly flowing to the rivers. Agricultural fields were inundated, drinking water was contaminated. Fish, shrimps, and other food sources were instantly killed, causing loss of livelihood for the local people which made it challenging for them to survive.

Old Manila’s “Last Lung”: The Arroceros Forest Park

Originally authored on August 7, 2017

In the middle of the polluted downtown Manila area is the 2.2 hectare mini-forest of indisputable historical and archaeological value. Arroceros was derived from the Spanish words rice dealer, the trading post where Filipino dealers engaged in barter with Malay and Chinese traders in the 16th and 17th centuries. It also became the site of the historic Fabrica de Tabacos in the 19th century and was a military barrack during the American era.



When people speak of preserving heritage these days it often concerns a structure that is threatened by destruction or alteration in the name of progress. Nobody can deny that the Parul is heritage. The naughty sidelights “only in the Philippines”, on a different light, has raised a positive meaning whenever we take pride in initiating the use of lantern in the form of a star to welcome Christmas season. It had since been our link to the past that refuses to be sidelined in every Filipino home here and miles away.

Inspired by the Star of Bethlehem, the first recorded maker of big lanterns, Francisco Estanislao, whose creation in 1908, was made of bamboo and coconut cloth. It was believed that Estanislao, a vendor and saltmaker from Pampanga made the piece for Simbang Gabi to attract the villagers to the church. The tradition transformed in the 1930s wherein Estanislao’s daughter, Fortunata married Severino David who made 16-foot lanterns that were lit by batteries from American military vehicles. Their union produced five boys and three girls.

Simbang Gabi at Iba Pa

Filipinos are said to celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world. At the start of the “ber” month, the air is filled with carols and people do not take down Christmas decors until the feast of the Three Kings is over.


“Misa de Gallo” (rooster’s mass), or “Misa de Aguinaldo” (gift mass), interchangeably, signals the official start of the season. But why on such an ungodly hour? In the old times, when the roosters crow at the break of dawn, the farmers and fishermen made it their alarm clock to wake up early and drop by the church before going to work for grace and good harvest. Farmers had to be in the field and fishermen had to be at sea before sunrise.

Saint Martin of Tours

From a historic perspective, many festivals have religious origin which entwine cultural significance in traditional activities. St. Martin of Tours has always been Taal’s patron saint since 1575 when the basilica was first buit by the Augustinians in San Nicolas. Taal is considered to be the only town in Batangas not destroyed by the ravage of war. People believed miracles were attributed to St. Martin.

Close to the season of “Undas”, the novena in anticipation of November 11 precedes the big event. Steeped in cultural heritage, pilgrims and devotees traditionally gather at the national shrine of St. Martin Basilica for the special prayer service highlighted by the “Luwa” of selected young boys in praise of the patron saint, known as the patron of children and the poor.

Awed by the magnitude of St. Martin’s importance in Europe and most part of the world, it was serendipitous, to witness and celebrate November 11 away from home. On the eve of St. Martin’s day, one of our hosts, the Langers, treated us to Austria’s traditional dish of the season, roasted goose or “Martinigansl” served with aromatic chestnuts, red cabbage and fluffy dumplings. For many people the meal is just as important as Easter and Christmas dinner.

“Martinloben” is celebrated as a collective festival which include art exhibitions, wine tastings and live music. On the night of November 11, children walk in processions carrying lanterns which they made in schools and sing Martin song.

The holiday mood piqued my curiosity why St. Martin became the most familiar and recognizable Christian saints in the Western tradition, thus, the unfolding of his mystery.

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