MANKAYAN, Benguet – As a child, Edison Mating dreamed of becoming a litigation lawyer, attending court hearings in a black suit with matching leather shoes and briefcase. Edison was born and bred in Brgy. Guinaoang in Mankayan, Benguet, a mining town. His mother is a contractual office clerk at an exploration firm in Mankayan, while his father is a farmer. Even with their shared earnings, sending all seven children to school has been a daunting task for his parents, a fact Edison was well aware of. “Tatlo kaming nasa college noon, and I have seen kung gaano namroblema parents ko sa pagpapaaral sa amin. So, I asked my mother kung pwede kumuha na lang ako ng ibang course,” Edison vividly shared. His mother advised him to apply with Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company for a scholarship grant and take up Mining Engineering.
Edison was the last applicant to get accepted into Lepanto’s scholarship program. He was not too enthusiastic about it at first because his heart’s desire was still to study law but being an obedient son, he pursued a mining engineering course at Saint Louis University in Baguio City. “Sabi ko, susubukan ko lang, baka sakaling magustuhan ko naman. Then nagbasa-basa ako about mining engineering, gusto ko din kasi matutulungan mama ko kasi nagta-trabaho siya sa isang exploration firm sa amin,” Edison recalled.
Little did Edison know that this detour will be the beginning of a fulfilling and far more colorful journey. “It was during my 2nd and 3rd years when I became exposed to various mining subjects that I learned to appreciate mining more. Sobra ko siyang nagustuhan hanggang sa naging very active ako sa mining organization namin sa SLU. At mas lalong hindi ko inexpect na magiging president pa ako ng SLU Mining Engineering Society (SLU Mines). Dito mas lalo akong na-inlove sa mining dahil sa may mga nami-meet akong mga mining engineers and it was very interesting and exciting learning new things from them,” shared Edison.
Edison, along with two of his fellow Lepanto scholars Eden Rose Sabiano and Alfe Guaki of Bgay. Suyoc, Mankayan, passed this year’s licensure examination for mining engineers. They will soon be working for Lepanto.
Eden Rose is just too happy to give back to Lepanto and work in Mankayan, where she grew up: “I want to give back to the company dahil kinuha nila akong scholar and ‘yung natutunan ko sa five years ay gusto ko ding i-share sa company”. She acknowledges that if not for Lepanto’s scholarship grant, she would have had to work to support her studies as her grandmother’s earnings from vegetable farming were barely enough for them to get by.
Alfe is excited to start his stint with the company. “Being in the mining industry will bring me more opportunities in life and I know that working for Lepanto is just the beginning,” he uttered. Like Edison, Alfe initially had no intention of taking up mining engineering, but he grabbed the opportunity to finish college for free when he was granted a scholarship under Lepanto’s Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG) program.
The DMTG program grants scholarships to deserving geology and mining engineering students from Lepanto’s host and neighboring communities. The program has produced 12 professional mining engineers and geologists since 2012, many of whom are now employed by Lepanto. Aside from this program, there is also the Lepanto Educational Assistance Program or LEAP, which has produced hundreds of graduates since 2002.
For Edison, taking up mining engineering was not a matter of choice but of necessity, but it has made all the difference. He is happy where he is now. He imagines himself wearing a reflectorized vest, coveralls, steel toes and a skull guard. The black suit, leather shoes and briefcase have no place underground, where Edison intends to show his mettle and prove that he very much deserved the scholarship granted him by Lepanto.
By Butch S.B. Mendizabal