Itogon miners fulfill promise to make town safer for Natonin folk

BENGUET, Philippines – A few days before Christmas, a group of small-scale miners went to Natonin, Mountain Province, to fulfill a promise to make the town safer from landslides.

It was in Banawel village where a landslide caused by Typhoon Rosita last October 30 buried the unfinished DPWH Building killing 30 people although six remained missing.

Although the mining town of Itogon in Benguet was similarly devastated by Typhoon Ompong in September that killed almost a hundred people, miners there still came on Nov. 2 and stayed for a week.

They promised the residents they would blast the rocks still precariously up on the slope when they come back.

The Itogon miners, led by Jake Gayog, came back on the week before Christmas to make the village safer. 

“We promised that we shall return and we did,” said Gayog. 

Photo by Jake Gayog

An extra day

On the fourth day of the blasting operations, Gayog said they were approached by a woman, who asked them to blast the huge boulders at the so-called Sector 3 of the incident area. 

"She is the mother of one of the missing. We weren’t able to provide a definitive answer as we were scheduled back home to our families,” Gayog said. 

They said they would leave some of the blasting materials if they would be unable to finish their work by dusk. 

Gayog, however, noticed eagle-like birds which the locals called torayen circling them at the blasting site. 

The torayen were seen as birds portending omens. When Gayog turned the key to start their vehicle and take them home, the key broke.

They stayed one more day. 

On their fifth day – which left them 3 days overdue – the team blasted the dangerous rocks, allowing them to go home on Christmas Eve. –