Photo 1 - Ambassador Delia Albert poses with company officials during her mine tour recently. In the background is the “Sulphide” mines tailing impoundment dam.
Photo 2 - Ambassador Albert spends the night with the women employees of TVIRD whom she calls ‘Diwatas’ (goddesses of the mountains). TVIRD has a total of 86 female employees.
Photo 3 - Engr. Pete Remoto, Mines Manager, describes to Ambassador Albert how the ores are extracted using the open-pit method. In the background is the sulphide tailings impoundment dam.
Photo 4 - Ambassador Albert takes a look at the nursery of the Environment Department. Accompanying her is General Manager Heliodoro Valmores and Emma Buyayo, Reforestation and Rehabilitation Specialist. The Environment Department has prepared around 80,000 tree seedlings ready for rehabilitation and for reforestation this year.
Photo 5 - The TVIRD minesite in Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. The land of the Subanons is gifted with mineral resources and also replete with abaca, rubber trees and many kinds of fruit trees. When the mining operation is finished, this whole area will be rehabilitated with trees and improvements.
Photo 6 - First photo shows Jane Manaog, a former teacher who now works as the Information, Education and Communications Officer of the Community Relations Office. TVIRD changed her negative impression about mining. Second photo is Rianne Miranda, Public Affairs Officer of the Public Affairs Department. She is inspired by the life of Ambassador Albert and is now thinking of taking the Foreign Service Officer examinations. Third photo is Mary Simbawan of the Environment Department. Her dreams of education for her three children have finally come true with the help of the company.
ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE - For the Canatuan women, it was an enriching and inspiring experience – having met and listened to the distinguished former Ambassador, and former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Delia Domingo-Albert. Ambassador Albert, on the other hand, was elated at the results of TVIRD’s responsible mining practices.
All these happened during the visit of Ambassador Albert in TVIRD’s minesite in Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.
“I am amazed and delighted at what I have seen. Nature is terrific in this place and I think it’s because TVIRD has preserved it well; and I also think that people have become conscious of the value of not only their mineral resources but also of the beauty of their environment,” Ambassador Albert said.
What endeared her to Canatuan and its indigenous peoples, including the women-miners, is her professed advocacy on responsible mining and her profound belief that mining could help alleviate the country from poverty.
“I came here to fully experience what is responsible mining. I want to validate what I have always been told about. And what TVIRD has shown is that, indeed, it is a responsible miner, ” Ambassador Albert told TVIRD management team led by General Manager Heliodoro Valmores.
Before she retired in 2010, Ambassador Albert also served as the country’s Special Envoy for Mining and was instrumental in bringing foreign mining investments into the country. She continues to espouse the same goal in her private capacity, she said.
In the evening of her first day of the visit, she held a special dinner with the women workers of the company whom she fondly calls “Diwatas” (Goddesses of the mountains). She recalled that she grew up in Baguio, which became a great city because of mining. “When I was young, many of my friends and classmates had parents who worked in mining companies. Some become successful because mining has helped them finish their studies,” she told the female mine workers.
“I can’t understand why there are some who are denying people the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their land,” she said about those who are against mining.
Her wit, charm, and friendly banter elicited warm responses from the women-miners who apparently have now found an ally and inspiration in the ambassador.
During the exchange of experiences with Ambassador Albert, Mary Simbawan, a Subanon widow who works in the Environment Department, disclosed that she thought she would never amount to anything, having only reached 3rd grade in her elementary school. But now she has a well-paying job, and her three children are pursuing college degrees with the help of TVIRD - an opportunity that she didn’t have during her younger years.
“I had negative impressions about mining before,” said Jane Manaog of the Community Relations and Development Office. “But when I transferred to Canatuan, I was proven wrong. I am very lucky that I am part of this company that values the culture and safety of the people and the environment,” she added. “This is really a very inspiring night,” said Rianne Miranda of the Public Affairs Department.
Ambassador Albert also met with the Subanon women of Canatuan and some Muslim women from Barangay Santa Maria the next morning.
Her ultimate dream, she said, is to build “a really modern, high-tech and inter-active mining museum in Baguio City-to prove to the people that a city can grow out of the mining areas.”
“Who knows? Canatuan or Siocon may be the next Baguio in Mindanao,” she added.
Albert now works as Senior Advisor for International Relations for a prestigious investments and accounting firm. (Joseph Arnel Deliverio)