Here in the Cordilleras' gold mine

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

There's a lost horizon somewhere above the clouds in the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya, beyond the last town of Quirino, after rough and tumble almost four hour ride from Caoayan Airport in the northern province of Isabela. Who would ever expect that a beautiful scenery of greens and browns could be discovered way above the nimbus and cumulus, over the rangers that climax the long and winding zigzags of rough roads. It was a ''luxurious'' ride because our van made '' lukso ng lukso'' to the great vexations of the Australian mining engineer sitting in front and the snoring Canadian metallurgist at my back.

We landed an hour before noontime in Caoayan and our Igorot driver was waiting outside the terminal. He pointed to a mountain range at the horizon and threatened that if we are lucky we will reach there at some minutes after three in the afternoon. But we needed to have lunch in Santiago City and buy some food and mineral water, just in case we would get stranded by the exigencies of weather and/or the fortuitous demands of  the rebels. And so, we did and after less than an hour we were done. The Canadian joined us in the Japanese restaurant but the Australian was in the bank and we had to wait.

Anyway, along the narrow and often flooded roads, we passed by small villages and patches of denuded forests. But there was an abundance of ferns and orchids, wild birds and flowers perennially watered by an endless shower. After a long and bumpy ride, we reached Didipio, which is perhaps one of the highest points in the Cordilleras. It is a fantastic sight, with a weather cooler and wetter than Baguio's and with a vista that can indeed be called a lost horizon waiting to be found. There is a growing community where the workers live right outside the perimeter of the hundreds of hectares of the Oceana Gold mining camp site.

Here I am, conducting a three-day seminar that starts right upon my arrival. The thirty-five or so HR and Admin managers and supervisors were already waiting in the training room. I was greatly impressed by the quality of personnel of this gold and copper mine not unlike the old Atlas Mining in Don Andres Soriano, Lutopan, Toledo City.  This company is amazing in the way it takes care of its people. For every fourteen days of work here in the mountains, each employee is entitled to seven days leave. That means that for every 28 days or almost a month, they are entitled to 14 days or half a month. No other company in the Philippines could equal that.

All the workers, from the 35 expats to the thousands of miners, are given free food. The mess hall is world class, with steaks and all sorts of healthy foods served to everyone and for free. Breakfasts and dinners are served in the mess hall where executives rub elbows with native workers. Lunch boxes are given after breakfast to be brought to the respective work areas, to the mine sites for the miners and to the offices for the admin staff. We brought our lunch boxes to the training hall. We were given a mine tour where we saw how the company takes care of the environment and the health, safety and security of their people and assets. This is a very good company and an exemplary employer. I am very happy to be here.

[email protected].


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