This compilation gives honor to all women who continue to campaign for human dignity, biodiversity conservation and

sustainable communities. To them who do not allow mining projects destroy their rich land and the beautiful future they are preparing for the next generation.

editors:

Judith Palmos Pasimio Edel garingan Farah sevilla
layout & design:

Ryan g. Palacol rgpalacol@yahoo.com

Published by:

AlyAnsA Tigil MinA c/o Haribon Foundation 2/F santos and sons Building #973 Aurora Blvd. corner Dapdap st., Cubao, Quezon City Tel: +63 (02) 434-46-42 Tele Fax: +63 (02) 434-46-92 www.alyansatigilmina.net

Printed in the Philippines 2012

Table of conTenTs

introduction
by Judy

4 6 8 11 14 17 20 23 25 27 30 33 36 39 42 45

a. Pasimio

The lawyer. The Activist. The Congresswoman.
by

Kristine mendoza edel s. garingan lalaine trono edel s. garingan a. Pasimio

What’s serving in Pearl’s Café?
by

Beyond the Pillars of Education
by

A Mayor’s Plight
by

Ka Badang: Hungry for Justice
by Judy

Fulfilling a Mission in a Distant Land
by

edel s. garingan edel s. garingan edel s. garingan edel s. garingan sherryll r. mindo-Fetalvero Pasimio

sweet Ordinary gesture of support
by

Resistance of Women in samlang
by

What it Takes to Protect life...
by

A Beautiful Dream
by

Tussle with no Muscle
by Judy

Protecting Mamanwa’s sacred ground
by

minerva tabar abelinde

leading the Way in nature Conservation
by Joel

green Voices
by

edel s. garingan Kristine mendoza

Advocate Risa
by

Lake Mainit Jabonga, agusan del norte

acknowledgmenT

A

lyansa Tigil Mina wishes to thank all the organizations and individuals who contributed in the telling of these stories.

To all the women who shared their wonderful stories, the challenges they have to face and the inspirations that kept them going. ...and to all the people who share our advocacy.

Photo by Henri Ismael/ Poros Photo
Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

InTroducTIon
Women’s stories: solidarity in the struggle for land, struggle for life
by

J udy A. P Asimio

There is life in mining. This is the propaganda slogan of a Filipino national mining company.

T

his is the life in mining – economic displacement, forced relocation, a collective memory slowly being erased as communities are disintegrated, violence in the family, harassment and death threats; food growers and producers are turned into temporary labor workers in mines, and this is mostly for men, as mining offers very little for women; children growing in a surrounding of inverted mountains, pits huge enough to contain a community, stream of rocks and silted mud, water running dry. Is this the life we want? Women with different backgrounds, from different standpoints are saying no. And the women say a resounding NO! in different ways – organizing hundreds of other people to protest against the mining project in their town, through offering her time and skills in cooking for people in her community who are in the forefront of the campaign against mining; educating women in mine-affected areas about their rights; going on hunger strike; using her position as a congresswoman and proposing a new mining law; facilitating the coming together of other people in their community into an organization against mining; opening up her own space to be the meeting place for groups campaigning against mining. These are just but some of the ways that women are saying no to mining, and these are all in this collection of women stories. 

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These stories that we share with you come from women of different languages, ethnicity, age bracket, economic status, but they are all sisters in the struggle against the encroachment of mining in the lands they live in, and survive on; and a struggle for better future for their families, their communities, and for themselves. This initial collection of Gentle Treasures is offered by the Alyansa Tigil Mina as a contribution to the celebration of the International Women’s Month this year. With this, we celebrate the women’s voices and articulation of their individual experiences of awakening to the harsh realities of mining; of their distinct contribution to the collective action against the mining projects in their areas; and their own definition of what a better life should be. There are more stories to be told. This initial collection of women’s stories on the struggle against mining is also an invitation for you to share your own, or that of your sister, your wife, your friend, colleague, neighbor, leader. Let us collect as many as we can, because more and more women are speaking up, and the task is for us to listen, and to hear. From her story, there are nuggets of golden wisdom we can mine, and there are tons of inspirations that flow out. There is life in mining. This is the life of struggle, of sisterhood, of solidarity. And this is what her story is all about.

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

THe lawYer. THe acTIVIsT. THe congresswoman.
by

K ristine m endozA

K

aka is a daughter of Dinagat Island. She used to bathe in its rivers. Her late mother used to wash clothes using its waters. She would dive in its seas to catch a glimpse of the corals and hike its mountains to stroll in the rich bonsai forest on top. Home to thousands of species, a real biodiversity paradise, this pristine little island, which used to be a district of Surigao del Norte but became a separate province last year, was ridiculously declared a mineral reservation. When her family moved to Manila, Kaka recalled visiting Dinagat and noticing its muddyred rivers which used to irrigate farm lands, and her kaubans who have not tasted the promise of development made by mining companies when they came, dug, and destroyed. It is by no wonder that Dinagat Island and its struggles would beget a lawyer-activist Kaka. She was still a student when she began joining actions involving environmental issues. When she finished law school, she joined BALAOD Mindanaw and SALIGAN. These are non-government organizations, which provide legal services to the basic sectors. Both are members of the Alternative Law Group (ALG). She became an alternative lawyer, handled environmental cases and campaigned against the adverse 

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effects of mining to the environment, agriculture, fisheries, and rights of Indigenous Peoples. She is currently involved in a case against mining in Cantilan, Surigao Sur, where the mining claim was issued in a watershed area, which runs through four rivers, sustaining life in Surigao. She also campaigned against mining in Calatagan, where farmers with emancipation patents were displaced in order for mining companies to extract lime.

the progress of this country lies in the improvement of the lives of its basic sectors who manages and protects our mineral resources.

But Kaka is not just the lawyer on the ground. After resting her weary feet from walking 1700 km with Sumilao farmers as their lawyer and advocate, in the celebrated Walk for Land, Walk for Justice, she was nominated and later on elected as representative of Akbayan Partylist in the 15th Congress. With her new platform, Congresswoman Kaka became one of the champions of the Minerals Management Bill or HB 3763, a proposed mining policy which would uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral domain, farmers to prime agricultural lands, fisherfolks to clean seas, communities to their share of profit, and our children to trees, waters, mountains, and other resources mining would destroy if we would allow the current law to stay. Cong. Kaka now celebrates the current public discussions on mining and the continuing deliberations in the House of Representatives on the new bill. She sees hope in the ordinances and resolutions banning mining in the localities. She is inspired by growing movement against mining such as the Save Palawan Movement and the SOS-Yamang Bayan network. As a lawyer, she is encouraged by the environmental cases filed by the communities and the protection orders granted in favor of them. According to Cong. Kaka, there are still a lot of things to be done and she would continue to work towards the vision of a Philippines with a mining industry that is responsive to a nationalist sustainable development plan, which has the interest of the Filipino people, and the protection of the environment.

Cong. kaka with other environmental groups in one of the campaign calling for the scrapping of Philippine Mining act of 1995. 

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines

wHaT’s serVIng In Pearl’s café?
Ate Pearl discovered new great things to offer other than brewed coffee and pasta
by

e del s. G ArinGAn

J

anuary 2011 at Pearl’s Café in Adiongan, Tablas Island, Romblon. Ate Pearl Harder was serving coffee to a couple of people when a familiar man sauntered in inside her restaurant. In the converging lights of the afternoon and the gentle breeze of postChristmas air, Ate Pearl gleamed and gave her special friend Fred a warm welcome. They sat down and exchange updates on each other lives. They talked about many things, their friends, the coffee and the other menus in the restaurant. Then Fred suddenly gave an earnest expression and opened the discussion on the exploration permit of Ivanhoe Philippines, Inc. Fred’s story Fred, who had been working in New Jersey, USA decided to go back in Romblon in 2010 and stay there for a year to develop their farm and the family business. While he was checking the progress of the farm he observed there were group of men who would always pass by in his area. One of the persons who were helping him in the construction works in the farm happened to be a member of the barangay council and so was aware of the business of the said men who were staff and engineers of Ivanhoe (working on the probable exploration activity for their mining project). 

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(L-R): Facade of Pearl’s Café; and Members of ReFaM during one of their meetings in Pearl’s Café.
above

Worried that the project may meddle with the operation of their farm, and also on its possible impact to the environment and the people of Tablas, Fred decided to talk to Ate Pearl, whom he had known as an environmental advocate. Immediately, Ate Pearl knew that she had to do something, not just for her friend but for the people of Tablas. In the following days, she was already talking to her former colleagues in the local council and gathering information about Ivanhoe Phil. and its proposed mining project. One day, after realizing that the campaign against mining would be best spearheaded by groups who believed that people are the steward of the nature, as also proclaimed in the Bible, she talked to the leaders and people of different religious groups and together they organized the Romblon Ecumenical Forum against Mining (REFAM). At Pearl’s Café Every so often, Pearl’s café is filled of customers craving for coffee, noodles and pasta. But when Ate Pearl became active in the campaign against Ivanhoe, people would come to her place for other new reasons; either to learn things about mining, participate in the planning session of REFAM or just hang-out with the other anti-mining advocates. In some days, Ate Pearl also served free coffee and pandesal to people attending education sessions in the restaurant.

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

My inspiration in this advocacy is the beauty of nature and the joys it gives to me... this island (Romblon) is my home!

Out of the sessions, new leaders from the community emerged. Teachers and students in Tablas worked together to organize the Association of Students against Mining (ASAM). A new energy was felt inside the café. Certainly, the Pearl’s Café became a significant space for everybody as Ate Pearl agreed to make it their headquarters.

People Power in Romblon In February 14, 2011, a strong pack of 12,000 people participated in the demonstration rally to show their opposition to Ivanhoe Phil. Inc. It was the biggest and most diverse public gathering in Romblon; elected officials of different political parties, church leaders and followers, students, and those who live in the city and even in the remote villages. For about nine months, Ate Pearl with the other concerned citizens of Tablas rejoiced after knowing that their efforts finally yielded good result. Ivanhoe has withdrawn their applications for exploration permit and at long last, left the province. With their success in driving out Ivanhoe, Ate Pearl, with the members of REFAM and ASAM, and the local government unit of Romblon is in high hopes that the bill filed in the House of Representatives declaring the province of Romblon as a mining free zone will be endorsed to Senate and finally becomes a legislation. Fred had gone back to New Jersey for his work while REFAM and ASAM continue to meet with each other and plan new activities. As for Ate Pearl, she is still serving the best brewed coffee in Tablas; but outside her restaurant she serves with a smile and an open heart to protect their environment.

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beYond THe PIllars of educaTIon
Ma’am Tess gives meaning to a devotion of teaching a community
by

l AlAine t rono

I

t was very early morning. She sat by the window, sipping coffee and staring at the splendor of the mountain before her. She stares at the great Mount Pangasugan in Baybay, Leyte, a prominent mountain range in the Visayas region, sitting idly amidst the wet earth, knowing that something is threatening its life. In a few minutes, she would need to hustle, meet with several women with the same aspiration, same goals and one aim, to campaign against illegal mining, especially in areas surrounding their families. Being the Director of the Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies of Visaya’s State Universities, active advocate for the protection of the environment, and an active council member of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Ma’am Tess Tabada always has a lot of activities planned for a day. She never knew she’d go this far in terms of her advocacy against mining in her town in Baybay, Leyte; it was, at first, just part of her job, being assigned by the university president to lead the anti-mining advocacy team of VSU in 2008. The team was established in response to the growing number of mining firms filing for exploration permit in Mount Pangasugan and even in other areas in Leyte. Everyday, each time Ma’am Tess hears
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Ma’am tess (4th from left) with the representatives of other anti-mining organizations in Leyte during the atM’s eastern Visayas Regional assembly 2012.

another mine explosion or news of landslides or even worse, murders of community leaders and even anti-mining advocates from MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) to Albay, Surigao and many more yet unspoiled islands, she felt that someone really has to speak out. A small fire was lit in her heart, and became a desire to reach out, spread the knowledge and be an advocate for environmental protection and campaign against mining Since the time she accepted her assignment in the anti-mining advocacy team, she started attending mining forum with her colleagues in the college. Ate Tess, visited communities affected by mining, she once stayed in a house for one night and there she realized the discomfort of living beside a mining project where in almost all day and night you will hear the drilling and the noises of the mining operations. Currently, the team is closely monitoring the progress of the application for exploration of a Chinese-owned mining firm in the mountain directly facing the university. To catch up with the pressures in campaigning against mining, Ma’am Tess would try to get mor information about mining by networking with other anti-mining group and attending in forums and conferences. She learned that mining industry has reached an all time high in exploiting new-found lands and discovering green field investments in developing countries like the Philippines. With earnings reaching billions of dollars, it is never

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difficult to see why many investors have risked capital to follow its path. The problem is, it’s not always a ‘gold rush’ for the chosen site. Forget that sometimes, these companies haven’t been issued an Environment Compliance Certificates (ECC), it becomes irrelevant to their operations; forget that lives are at stake, from the poison that seeps through the earth

This is an expression of my faith. Nature is a gift from God, I have the responsibility to protect it.
to the deafening explosions that occur every now and then, it doesn’t count on their revenues; forget that the future of a mined community is almost a land-raped area, with fewer and fewer living creatures to sustain the ecosystem, it’s not their hometown anyways; or if it is, the value of money is irresponsibly earned for a tomorrow that’s unsure to come. These are the reasons why she campaigns fervently against illegal mining. Having a Masters Degree isn’t enough; the responsibility she has to women, families and communities needed more than a degree on paper. It needs commitment, and she needs to be an inspiration to others. Even on evenings, she would go to small communities to disseminate information about the evils of open-pit mining, and she fervently hopes that it would make a difference. Never mind that there are threats to her life, it’s all part of the risk to bring out the truth. Knowing she has faith in a Supreme Being, the love and support of her family and friends, she is unafraid to take on these risks. She finished her coffee and prepared to leave. The day is young, and many people need to be enlightened. She prepared her paraphernalia; she doesn’t know when it will end, if this would ever end, but one thing for sure she would never stop until she fulfills her mission. The flame that she started has slowly consumed her entire soul. She, like several others, became a woman with a purpose, not only for herself, not just for her community, but also for her children and the children of many who deserve to inherit a habitable and minerals-rich land.

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a maYor’s PlIgHT
She was not allowed to get inside the mining site she intends for closure, now she’s looking for other ways to get in
by

e del s. G ArinGAn

I

n her first attempt to check the operation of San Roque Metals Inc. (SRMI) in Tubay, Agusan del Norte, despite the deputation letter from the director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), she was denied entry. However, she knew that a frail heart will not bring justice for her people; so she gathered her strength and sought help from Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN Foundation, who’s also an anti-mining advocate. On February 3, 2012, Tubay Mayor Sadeka Garcia-Tomaneng and Gina Lopez came back to SRMI, with MGB Director Leo Jasareno. Though perhaps, SRMI had enough time to clean the site, the effort was not enough to conceal the serious damage it caused in Tubay’s forest and coast line, to an extent that affected communities now have diminishing sources of livelihood. And while the investigation is on going inside the mine site, more than two thousand Tubaynons gathered outside SRMI to call for its closure. Mayor Sadeka and people in Tubay achieved success in calling the attention of the national government through the MGB that SRMI, contrary to its promise of community development, only gave them siltation, pollution and the worst floodings they never had before. After the visit, Director Jasareno placed SMRI and three other mining firms in CARAGA region under investigation for its reported failure to comply

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a section of pristire coastline of tubay before SRMi mining operated in the area. Photo by Save Palawan Movement

with environmental and health hazard laws. Aside from the environmental issues associated with the SRMI operations, Mayor Sadeka also ought to collect about a million of taxes and fees that the firm refused to pay. But SRMI continue to deny all the allegations and put more pressure to the leadership of Mayor Sadeka. SRMI Chairman of the Board and Caloocan vice Mayor Edgar Erice filed a complaint against her in the Office of the Ombudsman for her strong campaign against mining activities in Tubay and even accused Mayor Sadeka for a grave abuse of authority. Indeed, her fight to stop mining in Tubay had reached a level that she didn’t imagine before she entered politics. Everything started when she was elected in 2010 and conducted consultation meetings with the barangay captains who raised the issue. There were also complaints from the fisher folks who were experiencing scarce catch, that they can no longer provide enough income for their families. Immediately, Mayor Sadeka took appropriate actions and commissioned experts to conduct a study on significant sites in their community.

I can look myself in the mirror in the coming years and say to myself that I have done something that is just right for the people of Tubay.

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Part of SRMi mine site in tubay. Photo by Save Palawan Movement

“It might be very hard, exhausting at some point but I have no regrets doing all of these.” This is how she describes her plight to stop the operation of SRMI. “I can look myself in the mirror in the coming years and say to myself that I have done something that is just right for the people of Tubay.” The way she looks at the mining industry in the country is more of a state decision, but when things turn rough, there comes the struggle between the local government units and national office. For her, it is hard to convince the national government to put an end to a project that it promoted and insisted in the community. She strongly believes that the mining policy in the country should be reviewed and must be changed. Local government unit should have a stronger role in deciding whether a mining project is appropriate in their area of jurisidiction. It is hard to set the time line for her campaign, but Mayor Sadeka is willing to take all the necessary actions; taking small victories, one step at a time. She hopes to go back one day to SRMI mine site, and in that time she wouldn’t mind if the company will let her in, because anyway she’s there to put a padlock on the gate and permanently close the operation of the mining firm.

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ka badang: HungrY for JusTIce
by

J udy A. P Asimio

M

arion Wallace Dunlop went on a hunger strike in July 5, 1909. She was in prison when she started her hunger strike, after she was arrested for militancy. Marion was a British suffragette, a woman activist fighting for the rights of the women to vote. In prison, Marion went on hunger strike to protest the arrest. Her motto then was “Release or Death”. After 91 days of hunger strike, the authorities released her as they did not want her to become a martyr. After Marion, other women suffragettes who were imprisoned took on hunger strike to protest their arrest and their long sentences. Ka Badang Isidro may not have heard of Marion Wallace Dunlop, or her organization, Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), but they do share something in common – their militancy, and the reputation for being the first woman in their particular field and cause to mount a hunger strike. Ka Badang, 44 years old, is one of the first Mangyan women to go on hunger strike. In November 17, 2009, Ka Badang, along with 25 Mangyans and other Mindoreños, unfolded their mattresses in preparation for a long haul of hunger strike in front of the head office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). They were protesting the wrong doing against them, their families and their communities – the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to Intex Resources, a Norwegian mining company for its Mindoro Nickel Project in the Mindoro Province, even as the there is an existing Provincial moratorium on mining; even if no Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) was issued by the Mangyan, and even if the Review Committee recommended the denial of an ECC to Intex. One of their findings is that no public consultation with the stakeholders directly affected was held; and that there was no proper project area delineation.
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ka Badang (center) campaigns in front of DenR calling for the cancellation of intex eCC. Photo by Judy Pasimio 1

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That night, Ka Badang shared a bowl of lugaw (rice porridge) with her fellow hunger strikers. And with that, she was less hungry... for food, for justice.
Unlike Marion, Ka Badang is not a political activist, an icon in the women’s movement or indigenous movement for that matter. Ka Badang, an Alangan Mangyan, is a volunteer of Mangyan Mission, a Church-based group which provides services to the Mangyans. She is a vegetable grower in the town of Victoria, Mindoro Occidental. She grows kamoteng kahoy and bananas. Most of these go to the family dinner table, and when there are surplus, she sells them in town. But these days, she says, the Mangyan women have no more source of income, as they have no more lands to plant. Lands are being claimed by non-Mangyan people, and they sell these to the mining company. The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is not being helpful to them, she laments. And that is why they brought their fight straight to the doorstep of the DENR. A mother to 4 children, Ka Badang went to Manila without telling any of her kids, or her husband. She didn’t want to upset and worry them. She was suffering from acute urinary tract infection (UTI), and for that, she had to take a medicine regularly which had to be taken on a full stomach. But since she was on a hunger strike, she could not take her medicine. So after three days, Ka Badang was feeling the discomfort of UTI, as well as general weakness of her body. “This is a sacrifice am doing not just for myself but for the others. So maybe the Lord will reward me by taking my UTI away.” On the 7th day, then DENR Secretary Lito Atienza came down to the hunger strikers and announced that it was suspending the ECC, and that an investigative team would be created to look into the issues raised by Ka Badang and the others. Ka Badang was so happy, she called one of her sons to join in the celebration of this victory. That night, Ka Badang shared a bowl of lugaw (rice porridge) with her fellow hunger strikers. And with that, she was less hungry. . . for food, for justice.

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fulfIllIng a mIssIon In a dIsTanT land
From Canada she reached out to a community who loved her back
by

e del s. G ArinGAn

Once you are confronted by a reality that is brutal, unjust, unfair and so wrong, you have no choice but to try to figure out what you can do about it?
--Catherine Coumans

C

atherine Coumans, research coordinator of MiningWatch Canada came to the Philippines to study liberation theology as a requirement for her PhD in Cultural Anthropology. But the impact of mining in Marinduque even in 1988 is very apparent that it immediately confronted her. She realized how the Marcopper Mines (Placer Dome) distorted local politics, divided family relationships, and put more pressures in the lives of the people in community. Since then, she tried to do something; she would write for newspapers, send appeal letters to government agencies and participate in Placer Dome’s annual general meeting.

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During her stay in Marinduque, she would always marvel at the site of Boac River, which she used to describe as a beautiful and generous wonder of nature. On March 24, 1996, a massive spill from the Marcopper Mine filled the 26-kilometer-long Boac River with 3-4 million tons of metal enriched and acid generating tailing - even though she’s already in Canada, Catherine stretched her time and resources to support the communities in Marinduque. She called the attention of the mother agency of Placer Dome in Canada to be accountable in the disasters that the business caused in Marinduque. For Catherine the effort of Placer Dome to address the issue was not enough even to at least control the situation in favor of the affected communities; so with the help from her husband they founded the International Calancan Bay Villagers Support Coalition. In 2002, she released a case study report on the Placer Dome Disaster, noting how Placer Dome abandoned the mine and its responsibility to the people of Marinduque. What started out as a two year research project became a life-long commitment to assist communities in finding ways on how to rise above the adverse impact of mining and make the mining company accountable to these. She has written various literatures discussing the immediate need to revitalize mining policies in many countries and for mining firms to change their ways in handling their business. In 2009, she was again in Bocboc, Marinduque, helping the community in dredging toxic mine waste out of the Mogpoc River in hope also that such will prevent the flooding in the town. The community felt the urgent need to do the dredging, as neither the mining company nor the government had taken concrete actions to halt the contamination of mine waste in the river.

Photo by Hannah Grace Cang On the left page: tapian Pit in Marinduque Photo by Catherine Coumans

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In January 2012, she was invited by Fr. Joel E. Tabora, president of Ateneo de Davao University to share her experiences as an anti-mining advocate in the International Mining Conference on Mining in Mindanao. There she talked about global trends in mining. As she observes, around the world, indigenous and remote communities are the most vulnerable to encroachment and displacement. She shared how mining firms use militarization to protect their business and disregarded the rights of people. With the mining industry claiming to bring economic development in affected communities, luring people with empty promises of educational scholarship, assistance in health services and stable source of livelihood, Catherine framed it with a famous movie line: “the empire strikes back”. But she also throws a heavy question borrowed from a famous story: “does the emperor have any clothes?” The metaphor then says that mining industry cannot cover their sly tactics and the atrocities they brought to people and the environment. On the second day of the conference (January 27), the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) released a paid ad in Philippine Daily Inquirer condemning the activity and so the foreign speakers including Catherine. In the face of destruction such as this, Catherine has proven that she will not be shaken. In February 2012, she signed in the call of international coalition and organization for the President of the Philippines to issue a rationalize policy on mining in respect of the right of the people and protection of the environment. Her work in assisting mining affected communities for more than twenty years shows that the mission she realized in 1988 has become her life. Although, she recognizes that the problems in mining might not be resolved in her life time, she will continue to try doing things and introducing small actions that hopefully generate more positive changes in the community. Although she lives in the home country of some notorious mining firms in the world - that will not thwart her commitment. Whether she’s in Canada or in the Philippines or in other parts of the world, her mission is clear – help people in whatever ways she can.

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sweeT ordInarY gesTure of suPPorT
A mother in Dinarawan proves that help comes even in small actions
by

e del s. G ArinGAn

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n an ordinary day, Pinky Capua, one of the Mamanwas dwelling in Sitio Dinarawan in Brgy San Pablo in Jabonga, Agusan Del Norte will wake up in her usual routine at 4:00 am to prepare food for her children attending school in nearby town. After doing the normal chores of cleaning the house, washing the dishes and doing the laundry, she will sit in front of her house and enjoy few moments relaxing and looking at the magnificent view of the Danao commonly known as Lake Mainit. That silent pace of her contented life in the mountain remained seemingly undisturbed until a mining company pushes its will in their ancestral domain in 2008. Suddenly the tribe has two factions: the pro-mining group who seemed to be wheedled by the promise of good economic returns for the Community; and the anti-mining group who gives respect to the their heritage and values the benefit they get from nature. It took awhile before Pinky realized that they have to embrace changes that go along with their pursuit to stop the entry of Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL) mining project in their ancestral domain. There had been
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Being at the kitchen does not mean that she has less knowledge on & commitment to campaign... She felt the same concern when MRL conducted excavation to their sacred grounds without their consent.
consultations and several meetings to keep each other on track about the progress of their campaign. January 12, 2012, is just among those days where they have to do other things aside from their usual responsibilities at their respective houses. At 10:00 o’clock in the morning, about twenty Mamanwas, including youth and women are filling the wooden Chapel standing tall in the midst of their community. Pinky’s role in functions such as the campaign planning might be very simple – she, with other women in the town would prepare meals for the group. Today, they cooked special adobo with thick sauce and fried tilapia that they just caught in Lake Mainit. When the chieftain gave the signal for lunch break, one-by-one, she served food to everybody. The task of preparing and serving food to people attending meetings can be very tasking for Pinky, and can be considered detached from the actual struggle of the community against mining. But this is her contribution to the community, and this is what she does well. And being at the kitchen does not mean that she has less knowledge on and commitment to the campaign. She knows that MRL had violated their rights and had disturbed their culture and only brought chaos to their peaceful living. She felt the same concern when MRL conducted exploration to their sacred grounds without their consent. She is always willing to do more than the task of cooking if the situation demands it from her. But until that moment comes, she will continue what she does best for the group – fill their stomach with great food. For now, she takes pride in whatever support she can give to the group. She will sign all position paper and resolutions they will give to the local government unit or even to the President of the country. After the session on that day, she sat again in front of their house to marvel at the sight of Lake Mainit. Later, Pinky will be serving dinner to her children and in her own words will be explaining to them what were discussed in the meeting, how MRL has encroached upon their lands and how the campaign that they are doing will be able to help them live a normal life again.

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resIsTance of women In samlang
The struggle to know the truth and building a good life from it
by

e del s. G ArinGAn

W

hen DENR discarded the application for Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) for its Tampakan Project, newspapers and online communication portals were flooded by various statements and sentiments of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) and SMI. At the same time, environmental groups hailed the decision, hence continue to push for the total rejection of the project. Even local government units have estranged reactions over the matter. Whether they favor the decision or not, various sectors made an effort to also channel their concern to the President, but along these complex exchange of information, people in Samlang, Malungon, Sarangani remained clueless. I had the chance to meet B’laan women in Sitio Samlang last February. During a cold and rainy weather we discussed their experiences in campaigning against the Tampakan project. I was personally surprised to know that most of them do not understand what an ECC is and its significance to commence or hinder the Tampakan project. Since they will be directly affected by the operation of the mining project, in logical terms they should be informed about everything on it. This led me to an inquiry on the other matters that the government failed to explain to them to fully decide over the Tampakan project.
Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines

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I asked the group if they have already issued a Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) or any similar document to SMI. They gave me blunt looks while two to three of them were shaking their heads. Their Bae, a women tribal leader explained that they launched signature campaign in 2011 to signify their refusal in the project, almost all of the people in the community gave their support in the campaign. As an indigenous peoples community, I verified on how the National Commission for the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is assisting them on this struggle. But, even NCIP in their region sends signal that confuses them; an NCIP official even questioned their stand and said that a memorandum of agreement had been signed already, but whatever is in the MOA, was not made clear for the community. There was once a meeting conducted in their barangay hall wherein they were not allowed to participate. The way they understood the situation, only those who favors the Tamapakan project were allowed by the tribal chieftain to witness the contract signing inside the building. Some time in 2008, SMI conducted a consultation in their community, what appeared to be as a sincere effort to reach out to them, turned out to be another bait to get their signatures. Even though they attended the whole meeting, only those who signed in the attendance sheet were given packed lunch. Well, women in Sitio Samlang just went home and had simple lunch with their families. The road to their community is a bit stiff and physically challenging for someone who always travel in the wide road of the city. Whether you are riding a single motorbike or land rover, it will always be bumpy and even more demanding when it rains and the trail gets murky. But the scenery that wraps the surrounding is so wonderful, enough for people and visitors to forget the rough ride. The endless range of mountains, farms and small communities showcase their culture. Indeed, everything in the surface is so rich, that for the women in Sitio Samlang, they no longer have to extract what’s beneath their land and mountains. Being a wife and mother, women in Samlang dedicated their efforts to their children who will soon inherit the same mountains handed to them by their forefathers. Contrary to my impression, whether they are not aware of the technicalities in contract signing, community consultation and even profit sharing - they rely, perhaps on basic information on respect for property and are guided by the principle of taking care of their natural resources; enough for them to be firmed in opposing the Tampakan project.
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wHaT IT Takes To ProTecT lIfe…
and all the things that nurture it.
by

e del s. G ArinGAn

E

very time Robina Poblador looks at the endless mountain ranges surrounding their small village in Malungon, Saranggani, what she sees are life in different forms. The birds flying above the surface of the forest, the river that runs in its apt locations, trees standing tall in the ground and the plants and animals that build strong connection with each other. Part of that complex system of life is the B’laan tribe who, since time immemorial had lived in community with nature. For Ate Robina, that assemblage of life is a wealth that they have to protect. And so when she learned that few kilometers away from their humble village, on the edges of their mountain, Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) is pushing for the full operation of its Tampakan Copper-Gold Project, she stood up and showed what it meant to defend their domain.

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I am not afraid to die. If it is for the community, I can give my life for it.

As a Bae or female leader of the B’laans in Sitio Samlang, she had to ensure first that she consulted the community in making a decision. She visited every house, talked to the people and discussed to them the issue. She would explain to them that the benefits being presented by SMI will last only for a short time and could not secure a better future for the next generation. She would tell them, “Show the same love for our environment, because whatever we do to earth, we do to our children!” She has refrained from doing formal meeting as it may be misinterpreted as a conspicuous plot against the barangay council or even some people in the Municipal office.

She had been very open with her stand against mining. She would confer in the community during a mass service, she would share her views in the barangay assembly or would represent the tribe in a consultation meeting even with the mining company. With the efforts she had done, almost all of the people in her tribe are now saying “NO” to the project. But the days became very challenging in terms of her campaign. She realized that while she tries to understand more things about mining and its adverse effect to the community and the environment, she also needs to learn how to deal with the coercion of people in the barangay fervently promoting the project. In one of the sessions in the barangay hall, she had a confrontation with a local official who was saying that he too is against mining but would like to take a chance on the project because he sees that as an opportunity for them to earn big deal of money. Ate Robina wanted to ask more things from the official but the barangay captain came to her and forced her to stop. The local official even told them that they do not have the right to decide over the river and the forest because their tribe does not own it. Ate Robina and leaders of the community are also questioning barangay projects that allegedly have been funded by SMI: scholarship program
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for the students and some health education sessions. In December 2011, the barangay delivered construction materials in their sitio which will be used to build a Community Center. There were reports that this project is part of the Php 50,000.00 fund given by SMI to the barangay council. As of February 2012, the construction has not been started. She is very careful in attending meetings with SMI or the barangay council. As she has noted in one meeting, participants would not receive lunch unless they sign in the registration form even though they stayed and participated in the whole program. Her husband is working in the barangay office. He is not asking Ate Robina to stop her drive against mining but would just request her to slow down in some of her effort, as he is concerned of her safety and security. In December 2011, Ate Robina was accused of being the mastermind of the shooting incident of their barangay captain. The barangay captain, who is also Ate Robina’s cousin, was so furious about what happened, that in the barangay assembly in January 2012, he announced to the people, “kung dati mabait ako, ngayon pwede na akong pumatay!” (If I am kind before, now I can already kill people). But Ate Robina, who denied being involved in any way to the shooting, shows no sign of retreat, as she says, “I am not afraid to die. If it is for the community, I can give my life for it.” However, Ate Robina wants peaceful resolutions on the things related to their campaign, and since what they are protecting here are the lives and the future of B’laan tribe, she does not want that a life will be sacrificed for this pursuit.

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines

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a beauTIful dream
The campaign against mining is harsh and difficult but this teacher in Romblon sees it otherwise
by

s herryll r. m indo -F etAlvero

M

y name is Sweet, a mother and a teacher. I believe that motherhood goes beyond the confines of home while being a teacher doesn’t stop in the pillars of schooling. Beyond this life, I have a beautiful dream - a healthier, better and mining-free environment for my children and the students of Romblon. My advocacy to protect the environment and oppose mining began just with a text message unknowingly that the rest is a roller-coaster ride of experiences; I succumbed to the call to protect our island. Two important things however stood out as the best that I’ve done for this campaign. First is being an organizer of the Alliance of Students Against Mining (ASAM), the working arm of the Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM) that mobilizes student leaders in 

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raising public awareness about mining by distributing flyers, conducting lectures and showing documentaries about the experiences of some communities affected by mining in the country. Despite our personal preoccupations, we were hands-on in doing the ground works; we visited communities in areas covered in the mining applications, oriented local officials on ways to deal with the mining firms, called on our elected leaders to make stand on the issue, and spent sleepless nights compiling anti-mining resolutions that we filed in the DENR office. We also prepared petition documents in support of House Bill 4815, a bill authored by our Congressman seeking for a Mining Free Romblon. We spearheaded the signature campaign against mining in Romblon and Palawan. To date, 127,853 signatures (75.56% of the voting population) signed the petition for No to Mining in Romblon. Second is that I was able to bring my toddlers to this advocacy. I became stronger when I saw them embracing, believing and supporting my crusade. Whenever possible, I will take them in anti-mining meetings to expose them to my advocacy. They helped in gathering signatures for the campaign; they too walked under the sun without signs of protest and they even sometimes finished some forms faster. There were also memories I won’t forget: the confrontation with the emissaries of Ivanhoe Philippines, the first public forum I had that ended up at the police station, the unexpected call from Gina Lopez, and the publication of my letter at the Philippine Star. All of these were not easy. My conviction was ultimately put to test when some of my superiors held different views than mine, when our motives were questioned, when some officials did not heed in our signature campaign, when others in the advocacy slowed down and when I got tired with much work yet undone. I became engrossed to this advocacy leaving little time for my family which eventually caused a recurring friction between me and my husband. There was a time that I was not able to help my daughter with her assignment. My daughter just explained to her teacher that I was busy fighting the miners. Despite these drawbacks, I have no regrets because this advocacy is worth fighting for. The Mining Company quit and House Bill 4815 Declaring the Province of Romblon a Mining Free Zone had been receiving much

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

1

ASAM M eMberS

in one of their plAnning SeSSion .

attention in the congress. Environmentally sensible student leaders were born. My daughter wish to be like me and my husband’s full acceptance of this advocacy inspired me more. I was told that I have done something good for the province. But this advocacy has done more for me. This completed me. I finally discovered that serving the community gives me a different joy. I became a better person with enhanced self-respect and selfesteem. I learned that only if we are going to fill our hearts with wonderful things and beautiful dreams and only if we are going to speak straight from our heart then we can make a difference. For as long as I am a mother and a teacher, I won’t give up on this beautiful dream.

I was told that I have done something good for the province. But this advocacy has done more for me. This completed me. I finally discovered that serving the community gives me a different joy. 

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Tussle wITH no muscle
An advocate faces sad realities of women in mining
by

J udy P Asimio

M

ayette Badar is known in different towns in Eastern Samar as a trainer, facilitator, and a women’s rights activist. As the president of the Eastern Samar chapter of Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), a national federation of rural women, for 7 years, she has been around the region, giving trainings, conducting meetings, and simply keeping in touch with the strong and active members of the PKKK. One of the municipalities that PKKK is active in is Salcedo. Mayette and her team have conducted series of gender sensitivity trainings (GST) as well as Barangay Development Planning (BDP) among the Salcedo women. PKKK has a strong and broad base in this municipality. But recently, the federation is experiencing tension and division within the membership. And this is all because of mining. Since 2008, mining in Salcedo town has slowly become a booming industry. Earlier, the big problems of Salcedo are illegal logging and illegal

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

This means that the women, who used to be an active partner in bringing income to the family, is now reliant on the men’s income.
fishing. But those who are involved in these have now moved to illegal mining. Foreign investors have been coming in, particularly Taiwanese, to fund chromite mining in the area. When mining was taken on by PKKK as an urgent issue, membership from Salcedo town experienced a painful division. There would be PKKK women who have husbands and/or sons working for the mines, and it would be extremely difficult for them to go against mining, for they have become reliant on the incomes from the mines. This is one of the reasons why PKKK has taken on the issue of mining, particularly in Eastern Samar. Mayette sees mining as a threat against women’s rights. With the agricultural lands and kalubihan (coconut plantations) cleared and converted to mine areas, the work of women tied to land and coconut are no longer available and possible. As several towns of Eastern Samar are small islands like Manicani, fishing is also being adversely affected, as mining has polluted the waters. Although mining had alternative jobs to people, most work are offered to men. This means that the women, who used to be an active partner in bringing income to the family, is now reliant on the men’s income. The women in these mine areas are now economically displaced. There are a host of other issues which mining has brought to the Waray communities, particularly to their women. Incidents of violence against women are on the rise since mining came. Mayette explains that with the income coming from the mines, and with the men having full control of this and given that they are the sole breadwinners now, the men are prone to use some of the money to alcohol. This leads to drunken violence against their wives. The women, on the other hand, are experiencing low morale and self-esteem. Child labor, Mayette further relates, is also another issue that they are confronted with. There are boy-children who would be forced to stop schooling and help in the mining work, exposing 

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them to toxic as well as physical danger. In her recollection, two small boys have died, as they fell in the mine pit since 2008. Then there are the environmental adverse impacts of mining, which affects the family food security. And so, as a women’s rights advocate, it is necessary, and urgent, for Mayette to take on the issue of mining as it impacts on the rights, and the lives of women and their families. For now, Mayette and PKKK have been facilitating discussions on mining and its impacts on the environment, on the livelihoods, on the rights of both women and men, but especially so on women. Mayette’s goal is to open the eyes of Waray women to the short-term gains that mining may have on them, and the long-term, more permanent damage that this will bring to the communities, and to the Waray people. “Maaring maalwal ang buhay ng ilang mga kasama, at kababayan dahil sa mina; pero pano na bukas? Sa susunod na bukas? Kung sira na ang kalikasan, ang kabuhayan? Kung watak watak na ang mga pamilya dahil sa awayan?” (Some of our friends and neighbors may be comfortable today, given the benefits they have from mining, but what about tomorrow? Or the day after? If our environment is destroyed, and so are our sources of livelihood? If our families are divided given the conflicts?) Mayette plans to do more barangay visits in mining affected areas in the province. The presence of armed groups in Salcedo, however, is causing concern among residents, and is hampering the movement of Mayette and her colleagues. But Mayette considers this as part of her task – as president of PKKK, and as a women’s rights activist. Although being a mother of 4 children, her own mother sometimes warns her of the possible dangers she might run into with her advocacy. But being a sister to hundreds of rural Waray women, she feels confident that no harm would come her way as long as she is with the women in the communities.

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

ProTecTIng mamanwa’s sacred ground
A young heart shows how to care for nature
by

m inervA t AbAr

M

amanuas in Agusan Del Norte is considered as one of the first forest dwellers in the Philippines. The name of the tribe came from “man” which means the first person to experience the beauty of nature and “banwa” for a forest. Their way of life greatly depends on what they get from the forest where food gathering can be easily done. The forest gives them food, it is their dwelling place, and – a sacred ground. Deteriorating Sacred Ground As a 22 year-old college student, Mae Capua, a Mamanwa, has been helping her tribe to oppose the entry of large-scale mining in Sitio Dinarawan in San Pablo, Jabonga, Agusan Del Sur. This lady from the Mamanwa Tribe has a strong belief that the mining operation in their province will result to a deteriorated forest. During our interview with Mae, student of University of Southeastern Philippines, she pointed out that taking care of the forest means taking care of the whole tribe and the next generations to come. Mae believes that they need change in their community but this should not result to the loss of their natural resources. Sustainable development should be at the forefront of these changes so that it will not severely affect, in any manner, their sacred ground. Her strong feelings against mining came about when she had the chance 

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Sight of Lake Mainit from Sitio Dinarawan

But what we need is sustainable development – the one that will not destroy our environment and our lives.

to visit a mining-affected community in Surigao del Norte. She saw with her own eyes how mining has affected the lives of the Mamanwas in Taganito - they were forced to leave their lands and live under the bridge; most of the kids have skin diseases because of the exposure in polluted waters; there were food shortages as they were not allowed to plow the soil in their mountains. After seeing how mining operations destroy lives of an entire tribe, Mae promised to herself that she will not let the same thing happen to their community in Agusan Del Norte.

The Battle Cry of the Dwellers On July 2008, the Mamanwa Tribe had already expressed their rejection to the mining project during the consultation that was conducted by Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL) Gold Philippines Inc. The indigenous community in Dinarawan was strongly united in not allowing the entry of mining projects particularly within their ancestral domain. However, they learned that there were employees of MRL and some residents of San Pablo and San Jose who went to their sacred mountain in Anahawan to conduct mineral exploration without their consent. Mae knows that this was a violation of their rights as guaranteed by the Indigenous People’s Right Act or (IPRA). The IPRA provides that indigenous peoples have the right to be informed of any projects, programs or activities that will be conducted or implement within their territory, and in fact, they should be the one to decide whether these projects should be done or not. From exploration in 2008 up to its continued efforts to push the project, Mae, together with the Kamamanwa Kamanubo ka Kitcharao Jabonga Organization (KAMAMAKIJA), the official organization of the tribe, opposed the project. Mae would share their campaign with her classmates so that they will also know about their situation. While in the organization she would help in documenting their meetings. Mae wishes to see a better future for her community. She recognizes that there are things that have to be improved in her tribe; more children and youth should be able to go to college and discover their full potential to be productive so that in the end, all of them will be contributing to the development of their community. “But what we need is sustainable development – the one that will not destroy our environment and our lives.”
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leadIng THe waY In naTure conserVaTIon
She will not stop in restoring the forest for biodiversity conservation; To do such, she‘s aware that it includes protecting them from a threat known as mining
by

J oel A belinde

A

champion for the environment is how we all regard Ms. Anabelle E. Plantilla, Haribon Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer. Haribon Foundation is the country’s pioneer environmental nongovernment organization in the Philippines. Fondly called Ms. A by her staff and colleagues, she has devoted her 16 years advocating and campaigning for biodiversity conservation, which include her crusade against mining. Her campaign against mining in the country began in 2005, when she was then the Executive Director of Haribon Foundation. The organization has just launched its campaign to gather one million signatures to ban commercial logging and mining in the remaining natural forests of the country in the immediate aftermath of typhoon Winnie in 2004 that wreaked havoc in Quezon Province. Thousands killed, leaving hundreds homeless, while discovering hundreds of logs from forests being washed away by the flash floods and landslides. This disaster pushed Haribon to take action, thus the birth of the signature campaign, a reminiscent of a similar project in 1987 in Palawan, the last frontier of Philippine forests. But just as when Haribon was in this project that year, the government started to push mining as a key strategy to drive the national economy forward aggressively. So Haribon, with its long history of encounter with other NGOs (LRC, Phildhrra) and other POs concerned with the threats of mining, began to take a more active and direct actions in anti-mining campaigns. In 2009, Mangyans accompanied by church leaders from Mindoro camped out in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources national office to stage a hunger strike to call Lito Atienza, then the secretary of the department, to revoke the environmental compliance
Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

certificate (ECC) issued to Intex Resources, Inc., to extract nickel and cobalt in the forests of the island. She was able to help and give their protest a greater audience by asking Arnold Clavio to interview them in his radio program. Eventually, after an outpouring of support from other indigenous people’s groups and from various sectors of the society, the DENR did revoke the issued certificate. “This is unforgettable,” Anabelle recalls. “I participate as much as I can in all anti-mining activities, these be exhibits or events. Through my column in The Manila Times, I am able to publish anti-mining articles/position papers,” she shares. Aside from supporting dialogues and mass action, she has shown great support for the promulgation of local legislation that situates the extractive industry within the social and environmental heritage of the country. She has lent great support for alternative legislation like the Alternative Mining Bill in 2010 by AKBAYAN representatives and the Minerals Management Bill pushed by Representatives Baguilat and Bag-ao. As an advocate, Anabelle faces many great challenges. Lobbying alternative bills means being confronted with policy makers having their personal interest over and above public interest, hindering the passage of proposed bills such as alternative minerals management bills. Obtaining information from the government is sometimes difficult even if these should be made available to the public. The government also does not seem to genuinely prioritize environmental protection. Amid these frustrations, “Haribon as an organization managed to accomplish a great job in raising public awareness on the anti-mining campaign,” Anabelle recognizes. With the successes and the current confounding challenges, she does not see herself discontinuing her efforts to stop mining from destroying the environment and the lives especially of indigenous peoples. “The mining industry does not have credibility in the country. It purports that it will bring wealth, but experience shows otherwise. If 

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this is so, then why do the communities in Benguet remain poor in spite of the gold that has been dug out of their mountains?” she propounds. Anabelle envisions a future where the government has clear policies on the environment and the extractive industry; where there are no longer land-use conflicts like excising part of a protected area for mining. Then she may say she has succeeded. With the many vested interests at stake in this issue, it is a tall order. But emboldened by the small successes of the past, and by support from individuals and organizations, she will continue fighting.

The mining industry does not have credibility in the country. It purports that it will bring wealth, but experience shows otherwise.

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green VoIces
A journalist finds a good cause to sing to her heart’s desire
by

e del s. G ArinGAn

H

er dream of becoming a singer and have a duet with Rey Valera didn’t happen but she is in no regret. She had realized that her voice is not meant to entertain people with good music but to help create a responsible community that will respond to the challenges of their time. Whether in the radio program she used to anchor or in the stories she feature in her column in a local newspaper, Marissa Cano ensures that the voice she has now will encourage people to protect their remaining natural resources and encourage them to denounce destructive projects such as mining. Ate Maris, as she is fondly called, is known to many people in Baybay, Leyte as a journalist advocating for the environment not only because she openly discusses that in 

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her works but also for her active participation in the drive against mining and other project that may harm Mount Pangasugan. In 1996, Ate Maris joined the massive campaign of various sectors to stop the proposed Geothermal Project of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC). With the volunteers from Visayas State University (VSU) and members of the church, she helped in facilitating community discussions, being done in the evening, so that farmers and other stakeholders would know what are the risks involved in the project and how it will affect their lives. She also joined in the caravan calling for the immediate dismissal of the geothermal project where they travelled from Tacloban to Ormoc City. That experience in PNOC was just the beginning. Every time she learns that there is a project being proposed in their province that would adversely affect their environment, she is one of those who will sit-down and check whether that venture is something beneficial for the community. For the issue in mining, she would always believe that it had a potential to kill people with its bad impact in the environment. There may be areas appropriate for mining, but not in the important spaces being protected by people like Mount Pangasugan. With the respect that she earned from people, she is now taking more responsibility to update her knowledge and understanding on the issue of mining even its relation to other environmental concerns. And so she attends mining forums where she also expands her networks. She had the chance to visit St. Bernard, Leyte and there she saw how nature on itself had actually caused the mountain to crumble. She then asked her self what other worse things that can happen to a mountain that is being destroyed by a mining project. “When you do this work, it is like you are saving yourself and the lives of other people… it is a nice feeling to know that you are able to influence people to also protect the environment. Yet all of these are not easy!” Ate Maris recognizes that she cannot please everybody most specially people in the mining companies. She is in fact, sometimes afraid. Her husband is always asking her, “Why do you have to put your self in a very dangerous situation?” She would just look at him and say, “For the common good.”

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

As long as I still have hands that can reach out to others and help protect the environment, I will continue with this advocacy. In fact the more I accomplish things the more I realize that there are even more things I need to do.

She is also aware that what she’s doing is an added work for her; she is a mother of two kids, a wife, and a daughter and sometimes she coaches communication students of VSU. But as she says, “As long as I still have hands that can reach out to others and help protect the environment, I will continue with this advocacy. In fact the more I accomplish things the more I realize that there are even more things I need to do.” Last January 31 to February 1, 2012 she attended the Visayas Regional Assembly of Alyansa Tigil Mina and there they identified strategies that will intensify their campaign to stop mining in their town. She is bound again to face a more demanding year. She may not have become a singer, but many people listen to her voice, as it rings out for her environmental advocacies. 

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adVocaTe rIsa
by

K ristine m endozA

T

o bring the campaign to the very halls where the problem came from, sure was an obstacle worth overcoming for Advocate Risa.

She has always been a firm believer of environmental justice and happened to be Akbayan’s representative during the 14th Congress. A politician and an idealist, Risa saw no patent contradiction in her lot, serving two terms in the House of Representatives where she extended and reformed the agrarian reform law and made cheaper medicines available to the public. Along with fellow Akbayan Representative Walden Bello, Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada and then Congressman TG Guingona, she filed the Alternative Mining Bill, the first attempt at bringing back the mining issue into the body that begot the Mining Act of 1995. “It was really inspiring to be part of this solid campaign mounted by environmental NGOs, Indigenous Peoples and people from mining communities”, Risa recalls the mobilizations she participated in as representative of Akbayan. “We knew where we stand, our calls have always been ‘Scrap the Mining Act’, the challenge to me was to bring the placards and the megaphone inside the plenary not just at the South Wing gate.” Risa said it was a tough task, repealing a law designed to invite foreign investments and was erroneously perceived to bring economic development in the country and enacting a new one, with environmental protection, human rights, and larger economic benefits for Filipinos at its core principles. “These Congresspersons have always catered to the interest of foreign mining companies. The task assigned to me was to change their minds.”

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines  

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It should be the normal course of repealing a law, passing a new one in Congress, had our legislative body been a truly democratic one where we can supposedly change our leaders at regular intervals called elections. When Risa filed the Alternative Mining Bill during the 14th Congress, she faced the very politicians who were behind the Mining Act of 1995. Some were the sons and daughters of the old order, still the Congress that the mining companies had won a decade ago. The Committee on Natural Resources was then headed by the late Representative Ignacio Arroyo who refused to hear the bill. Risa also was a member of the powerless minority, who at the reign of Former President GMA and her policy of colonizing the lower house, did not receive their Priority Development Assistance Fund. Their bills were usually not prioritized. The Chamber of Mines also did “man-to-man” some members of the Congress. Thus, Risa lost the first attempt at repealing the mining act during the 14th Congress to the classic partners-in-crime, the mining companies and the congress they. patronized and nurtured. But as tradition goes, bills that come from the progressive movement take many Congresses to be passed if it would be passed at all. Now, as the spokesperson of Akbayan, a perceived ally of President Aquino, Risa wants to engage the current administration in crafting its new policy on mineral resources. She said that the new government must listen to the people affected by mining while the movement must continue presenting alternatives to the public. “Administrations come and go, and this may change our posts, but until we get what we want, there is no stopping in this campaign”. Risa may no longer be able to participate in the deliberations on the re-filed bill but she said she will always be our Risa, the advocate.

These Congresspersons have always catered to the interest of foreign mining companies. The task assigned to me was to change their minds.

Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

sTorIes To look forward To

Why don’t they clean up the mess they left in abandoned mining sites first? They have to prove to us that they are capable of rehabilitating those areas. --Gina Lopez

Cordillera women as they talk about their lives in mining towns Women from Marinduque as they survive the Marcopper disaster Women Commissioners of NCIP as they stand firm in their commitment to promote IP rights, amidst pressure from the mining industry and other more inspiring stories... 

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abouT THe auTHors
Kristine Mendoza
works as a legislative staff in the office of Congresswoman Kaka Bag-ao. She is also a fourth-year law student in University of the Philippines.

Edel S. Garingan
is the media staff of Alyansa Tigil Mina. He visited mining affected communities in Leyte and various areas in Mindanao to interview some women featured in this book. He contributes article in Manila Times through Haribon Foundation.

Lalaine Trono
works as a voicewriter and editor at Mc Graw-Hill International. She is a volunteer writer for this project.

Judy A. Pasimio
Is an Indigenous women’s rights advocate. She was part of the convenors of ATM during her term as executive director of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (2008-2011). She is actively involved in the anti-mining campaign.

Sheryll R. Mindo-Fetalvero
works as an Assistant Professor in Romblon State University. After attending an orientation about the impact of mining in Pearl’s Café in January 16, 2011, she immediately thought of the importance of involving the youth in campaigning against mining in their town. By January 18, 2011, the Association of Students Against Mining was formed with 173 members representing 21 organizations.

Minerva Tabar
being also a youth leader, Minerva can identify with the initiatives of Mae Capus. She currently handles capacity development program for the youth of Children International Manila. She is also a member of the volunteer group Children International Manila Alumni Association (CIMAA). She is a volunteer writer for this project.

Joel Abelinde
As an active member of Haribon Foundation, Joel often interacts with Ms. Anabelle Plantilla. In 2010, he was contracted by Haribon as an external program evaluator for the program implemented in Surigao Del Sur. He is the Communication Coordinator of Children International Manila.
Gentle treasures: stories of Women aGainst mininG in the PhiliPPines 

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