TUBA, Benguet – “It is health which is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.”
Such a sage advice from the late anti-war activist Mahatma Gandhi couldn’t be more apt in practice as being applied by Philex Mining Corp. to all its stakeholders, including the host and neighboring villages of its Padcal operations, through free health-care services like medical and dental missions, which also highlight healthy-living conditions.
“This reminds us of how important our health is,” Roy Mangali, assistant resident manager of Padcal operations, said Wednesday, Nov. 9, in his management message at the Medical & Dental Mission conducted by Philex Mining, in coordination with the government of Tuba, at the town’s Sitio Camp 3-Proper, Brgy. Camp 3. “This is how Philex shows its being a responsible miner—we care about the health of our employees and the people in our communities.”
The second of the company’s medical missions held in the run-up to its 60th Anniversary Celebration, on Nov. 19, Wednesday’s event attracted at least 238 residents in seven of the barangay’s sitios—Balayan, Mangga, Antamok Sur, Antamok Norte, Balding, Riverside, Camp 3-Proper—had received from Philex Mining free medicines like painkillers and antidotes for fever and respiratory illnesses, as well as vitamins (for children and elders). This developed as the residents availed of free medical and dental check-ups, tooth extraction, and tests for blood type, glucose, cholesterol, and uric acid administered by the in-house medical staff of Philex Mining as well as the health staff members of Brgy. Camp 3 and Tuba municipality.
Tuba Mayor Ignacio Rivera said, “It is a blessing that our partner Philex Mining brings to our locality free health-care services. We are thankful for these, knowing the high costs of doctors’ consultations and medicines.”
“I am grateful that I came to this medical mission,” said the 57-year-old Delia Cabansi, who has eight children and was diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia and hypertension. “It was worth trekking through rugged terrains for at least an hour to come here, as I came to learn of my illness and that I can still do something about it with the help of Philex Mining. And I am so happy that I need not buy my medicines, as these are provided by the company for free.”
Estela Montino, a member of the Barangay Council, in Camp 3, said the mission, as organized by Philex Mining and participated in by the barangay and municipal health workers, is a big help to the residents of the community. “We are proud that we belong in a community where Philex Mining implements its social programs, especially on health care, as well as on education, which provides scholarships to our children.”
The Nov. 9 medical mission was part of a series of events held during the months-long celebration of Philex Mining’s 60 years of operations rooted in the principle of responsible mining, and through which the company has fulfilled its various obligations in community development, nation-building, and economic progress.
Stressing that a healthy community is more productive and a better partner in environmental protection and sustainable development, Mangali said in his speech: “The communities around Philex Mining are our partners in community development—and you are the pillars and foundation—that is why you are a testimony that we have reached our 60 years of responsible mining.”
For the local government of Tuba, medical missions also serve as a vehicle to highlight as well the other but related aspects of healthy living. “That is the reason I am encouraging every household to plant trees—to help in purifying the air we breathe,” Rivera said. “Let us also consider to religiously practice the proper waste segregation, to protect our rivers and other waterways. “We always appreciate the social and environmental programs that Philex Mining has continuously implemented in our communities.”
While the two medical and dental missions—the first was carried out Sept. 16 in Itogon town’s Sitio Sta. Fe, Brgy. Ampucao—were held as part of a series of events approaching to Philex Mining’s grand celebration of its Diamond Anniversary, to be held in Baguio City and in Brgy. Camp 3’s Sitio Padcal—the company extends the same free health-care services in the field on a regular basis under its Social Development and Management Program (SDMP).
Between 2003 and 2015 alone, Philex Mining had spent P25.2 million for its health-care program in the outlying communities (both host and neighboring barangays) in Tuba and Itogon, the host towns of its gold-and-copper operations in Benguet. The company had also constructed health-care centers and sanitary facilities in the outlying villages.
“With its various social programs being implemented in the host and neighboring communities, Philex Mining has proven that the technical audit done recently by government, which the company passed with flying colors, was worthy for all of us,” Montino stressed. “The company has also provided seed capital, farm inputs, and technical assistance to its beneficiaries in the outlying communities, in order to improve their livelihood. It has also been a great help in providing these communities with various public infrastructures, such as farm-to-market roads and potable water systems.”
Geraldine Ateo-an, division manager for Internal Audit at Philex Mining and head of the ad-hoc 60th Anniversary Organizing Committee & Coordinators, said the series of events organized in connection with the Diamond Anniversary also include a fun run, which was held Oct. 23 at the Padcal mine site; a sports fest, which runs until Nov. 17 from Oct. 3; and “Nurture-Nature Activity,” a tree planting held Aug. 16 to kick off the months-long celebration.