TUBA, Benguet – A showcase of performing arts, including street dancing and field demonstration, sports exhibition, encouraging speeches by politicians, and a moving Eucharistic ceremony all focusing on the right and principled way of mining have enlivened this year’s celebrations of a patron fiesta and the golden anniversary of a parish in Philex Mining Corp.’s Padcal mine in this town.
The awarding of employees for having been with the company for 25 years was among the highlights of the three-day celebrations, which culminated Sunday, Jan. 21, with a Community Mass with Baguio Bishop Victor Bendico and concluded with a colourful field-dance performances by students of the Philex Mines Elementary School (PMES), following its kickoff Friday night with a talent competition.
Tracy Kiera Perlado, a 19-year-old student at the Saint Louis University, in Baguio City, and a dependent of a Padcal mine employee, bested six other contestants at the “Philex Has Got Talent” show held at the Philex Sports Complex (PSC), Jan. 19, where audiences were treated to a night of dancing, singing, martial arts, and acrobatic acts. Perlado garnered a total of 92.33 percent from the three judges for her performance medley that included singing Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams,” then gyrating to a belly-dance tune, and finally doing a heart-stopping aerial stunt while suspended on a steel ring. She went home with a cash prize of P10,000.
A colorful parade participated in by officials and employees of Philex Mining and Padcal mine, the miner’s gold-and-copper operations in this province, was held the following morning, Saturday, Jan. 20, just before the “Araw ng Parangal” (Day of Recognition) in honor of all the 141 employees, one of whom posthumously, celebrating their Silver Anniversary with Padcal mine. The celebrants were each given a plaque and a 24-karat gold wristwatch for their loyalty, diligence, and dedication to their work and the company.
The day’s guest speaker, Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang (Lone District, Kalinga), who is also Caretaker Representative of Mountain Province, took cognizance of how Philex Mining has well taken care of the “interests of its loyal employees,” telling the company to continue practicing responsible mining conscientiously. “As an advocate of responsible mining, I urge you to continue your good practices, to adhere to national and international laws and best practices, and purposefully follow the mining rules, and be consistent in your compliance with the regulation standards,” he said in a speech at the event, which was also graced by Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso and Tuba Mayor Ignacio Rivera.
As a geologist who had worked in some large-scale miners before switching to contract farming and, eventually, to being a politician, Mangaoang added: “I am a believer in the benefits that mining can bring to the country, to the community, and to the people. But that is only if mining, of course, is done responsibly.” Then, expressing his faith in Philex Mining as world-class and responsible miner, although aware of its mine life, he said, “I pray that with the grace of our God Almighty, Philex mines, in Padcal, Benguet, will be here to stay for the next 50 years.”
Sunday morning was a time for Eulalio Austin, Jr., president and CEO of Philex Mining, to wax some poetics. “It’s not the end of the journey that matters,” he said in a speech during formal ceremonies to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Sto. Niño of Prague Parish, in this town’s Sitio Padcal, Brgy. Camp 3, also held at the PSC. “What matters most is what we have done along the way, what we did and how we did our best, and adhered to the standards of right and principles in mining.”
Expressing hopes that Padcal’s 2022 mine life be extended, what with some exploration activities being conducted, and after years of soldiering on with the company’s mantra of responsible mining done conscientiously, Austin said, “I now hope to go into right and principled mining” which, he stressed, encompasses the focus again on the welfare of employees and all the other stakeholders.
“It’s not completing the journey that matters; it’s what you have done along the way,” he told the audience. “The journey is still on, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s not lose sight of the true vicissitudes of celebrating our fiesta which is looking up to the Lord, renewing our Christian commitment, and always giving trust to the Lord, enjoying the rest of the journey, and making the most of it.”
Faith in God is likewise the focus of Bendico in his homily as the main celebrant of the Community Mass, where he also reminded the parents to love their children, who are “very dear to Jesus Christ, who said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.” He said, “Children are treasures in our family, they are treasures from God. Life is short, and someday accountability will come. And so let us allow our children to enjoy their childhood they have the right to be happy, they have the right to be loved.”
Believing that sports activities are a necessary part in building and maintaining a holistic mining community, a basketball exhibition by a select number of teams, composed of Philex miners and the media (from Baguio City and Benguet) followed in the afternoon as part of the 57th Annual Patron Fiesta celebration and the golden anniversary of the parish which, this year, coincided with the 60th or Diamond Anniversary of Padcal operations. (In November 2016, Philex Mining celebrated its 60th anniversary as a publicly listed company.)
With the theme “Marching On With Faith in Conscientious and Responsible Mining,” the Saturday events went on with a Community Night, which was duly assisted by the Benguet PPO Band, which is composed of personnel from the Provincial Police Office, based in the provincial capital of La Trinidad.
A parade to fire up the Saturday events had the representatives from the Philex Mining head office, in Metro Manila’s Mandaluyong, clinched the first place in the “Best in Gimik” (Best in Gimmick) competition, where they bested the other groups and participants in street dancing with an overall score of 90.33 percent. The contingent from the Kalinga Tribe came in close with a 90-percent score, while the Philex Vendors’ Association, based in Padcal, was third with an average score of 88.33 percent.
The floats had likewise enlivened the parade with their creative and colorful décor and embellishments. Having made an SUV look like a mining tunnel with an LHD (load, haul, dump) machine, Padcal mine’s Mine Division was adjudged the champion, while a company contractor, RM Group, came in second, and the third place went to the Legal Division, Padcal.
While field demonstrations group dances performed by the PMES students exulting the Sto. Niño the day’s events started off in the morning with a procession of the two images of the Sto. Niño of Prague around the Padcal mine camp just before the holding of the Community Mass, at the PSC.
Reminding the audience that dancing with the image of the Sto. Niño is cultural and a show of respect for Jesus Christ, Bendico said, “We do not adore images; we honor them.” He also said that devotion to the Sto. Niño means believing in the power of Jesus Christ, who is in Heaven. “This reminds us of the children who are dear to Jesus Christ,” he stressed. “Jesus was loved by Mary and Joseph. A child who experienced being loved by parents passes this love to others. And this is what Jesus did.”