Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What…if Something Went Wrong: Hazardous Child Labor in Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines

Philippines: Children Risk Death to Dig and Dive For Gold 
Enforce Child Labor, Health and Mining Laws 
Photos by: Mark Z. Saludes

An 11-year-old boy works at an underwater mining site in Camarines Norte province, Philippines.
© 2015 Mark Z. Saludes for Human Rights Watch

(Manila, September 30, 2015) – The Philippine government is failing to protect children who dig and dive for gold in dangerous small-scale mines, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report and video, released ahead of Children’s Month in the Philippines

The 39-page report, “What…if Something Went Wrong: Hazardous Child Labor in Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines” documents how thousands of Filipino children – some just 9 years old – work in illegal, small-scale gold mines, mostly financed by local businessmen. Children work in unstable 25-meter-deep pits or underwater along the coastal shore or in rivers, and process gold with mercury, a toxic metal. In September 2014, a 17-year-old boy suffocated in an underground mine because there was no machine providing oxygen. The Philippine government should act on its public commitment to end child labor in mining, Human Rights Watch said.

“Filipino children are working in absolutely terrifying conditions in small-scale gold mines,” said Juliane Kippenberg, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The Philippine government prohibits dangerous child labor, but has done very little to enforce the law.”

Human Rights Watch conducted field research in Camarines Norte and Masbate provinces in 2014 and 2015. More than 135 people were interviewed, including 65 child miners between the ages of 9 and 17. Beyond the fears of mine collapses and drowning, the children complained of numerous health problems, including back and body pain, skin infections, fevers, and spasms.
Pure mercury in a wooden pan used to process gold.  
© 2014 Mark Z. Saludes for Human Rights Watch

In underground mines, children risk injury from falling rocks and wood beams, pit collapse, and lack of oxygen. 

Underwater mining for gold, locally known as “compressor mining,” puts adult and child miners at risk of drowning, decompression sickness, and bacterial skin infections. Staying underwater for several hours at a time in 10-meter-deep shafts, the miners receive air from a tube attached to an air compressor at the surface. This work is carried out by adolescent boys and – mostly – adult men. Several boys described moments of fear when they dived for the first time. Fourteen-year-old “Dennis” said: “I was 13 the first time [I dived]. I felt scared because it’s dark and deep.” If the diesel-powered compressor stops working, the miner can drown or get “the bends” coming up too quickly. “Sometimes you have to make it up fast, especially if you have no air in your hose,” said “Joseph,” 16. “It’s a normal thing. It’s happened to me.” 
An adult miner gets ready to mine underwater in Santa Milagrosa, Jose Panganiban.
© 2014 Mark Z. Saludes for Human Rights Watch

The Philippine government in recent years has taken some important steps to ensure education for all, but the number of out-of-school children in the country remains high. Children, mostly from impoverished households, skip school because of their mining work and sometimes drop out altogether. 

An underground mine in Malaya, Camarines Norte. 
© 2014 Mark Z. Saludes for Human Rights Watch
“Lots of children in Masbate and Camarines Norte are dropping out of school to work in gold mining,” Kippenberg said. “In order to tackle the root causes of child labor, the government needs to assist the poorest families financially and ensure their children are able to attend and stay in school.” 

Children also work with mercury, a readily available toxic metal that is commonly used to process gold. Children are particularly susceptible to mercury, which attacks the central nervous system and can cause brain damage and even death. Unaware of the health risks, children use their bare hands to mix mercury with gold ore and create an amalgam. When they burn off the mercury to retrieve the raw gold, they breathe in toxic fumes. 

Children pan for gold along the Bosigon River in 
Malaya, Camarines Norte.
© 2014 Mark Z. Saludes for Human Rights Watch
In the mining village of Malaya, Camarines Norte, Human Rights Watch observed the unrestricted flow of light-grey, mercury-contaminated tailings from gold processing into the nearby river, where children play, swim, and pan for gold. Several children in Malaya complained of tremors, symptoms that could be signs of mercury poisoning. The Philippine government should be introducing mercury-free gold processing, such as is practiced in Benguet province, to reduce the threat to all children, Human Rights Watch said.

The Philippines has signed but not ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury of 2013, which sets out steps to reduce mercury exposure. The government should promptly ratify the Minamata Convention and test for mercury exposure among residents in mining areas. 

In March 2015, the government banned the use of mercury in mining as well as compressor mining, but little has been done to implement this regulation so far. 
“Peter,” 11, works at an underwater mining site in Santa Milagrosa, Jose Panganiban.
© 2014 Mark Z. Saludes for Human Rights Watch

The Philippines is the world’s 20th largest gold producer. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people work in the country’s small-scale gold mines. Large and small-scale mines combined produced about 18 tons of gold in 2014, at a market value of over US$700 million, according to official statistics. The country’s central bank is the official buying agent for gold from small-scale mining and exports it. However, the bank has no process in place to check the conditions in which the gold has been mined. Other gold is smuggled out of the country.

“Small-scale mining provides a vital livelihood for many Filipinos,” Kippenberg said. “But the government needs to take urgent steps to ensure a safe and child-labor-free mining sector so that families can earn an income without putting their children at risk.”
Emerita Pernicita shows a picture of her 17-year-old son, Nel, who died in an underground pit with his adult brother in Malaya, Camarines Norte. © 2014 Mark Z. Saludes for Human Rights Watch

During the embargo period, “What…if Something Went Wrong: Hazardous Child Labor in Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines” is available at:

Upon release, it will be available at:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on children’s rights, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:

For more information or to schedule interviews, please contact:
In Manila, Juliane Kippenberg (English, French, German): +63-90-87-74-66-34 (mobile); or +1-917-213-4228 (mobile); or Twitter: @KippenbergJ 
In Manila, Carlos Conde (English, Tagalog, Visayan): +63-919-911-1539 (mobile); or Twitter: @condeHRW
In New York, Margaret Wurth (English): +1-484-554-3194 (mobile); or Twitter: @MargaretWurth

Sunday, September 27, 2015

500px Fujifilm Global Photo Walk 2015 Successfully Takes Off

Article by: Clement Dampal II

Cagayan de Oro, Philippines joined the 3rd Annual 500px Global Photo Walk sponsored by FUJIFILM last September 26, 2015 (Saturday). One of the 11 cities and provinces in the country to join the Global Photo Walk, the event was spare-headed by Gian James Maagad, a Fujifilm Street Photographer based in the Cagayan de Oro.

This year with the global theme of “Explore with Friends” and a local theme of “Human Interaction”, a total of 27 photographers from different communities gathered and joined the fun-filled Photo Walk which started around 7 in the morning. Gian James, the Photo Walk Leader safely managed to led the group and started the Walk at Plaza Divisoria. The group then proceeded to Gaston Park using the Kalye del Mar (Known today as the Don Apolinar Velez St.) and continued towards the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral exploring some interesting stories to document.

[Photo on the left side: Title: Discover Infinite Happiness
Taken at Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City. #500pxGPW15]

The group crossed the Ysalina Bridge commonly known as the Carmen Bridge going to Vamenta Boulevard and took a left turn at the Castro Street passing the Carmen Public Market. Stayed for a couple of minutes to document something worthy, the group then decided to move to Velez Street corner JR Borja Street passing the new bridge of the city, J.R. Borja Bridge. From there, they moved all the way to Provincial Capitol Grounds also known as the “Vicente de Lara Park” as the final leg of the event. Photographers puzzled up the area, documenting, and capturing the best and inspiring story to share to the world while discovering the meaning of camaraderie.
Image Title: Infinite Mind and the Intimate Soul #500pxGPW15

The Photo Walk ended at the Colours Philippines, Centrio Mall Branch where participants received a FREE 8R photo print from Fujifilm Philippines.

Fujifilm lends its retro style, focus on the photographer, and dedication to constant innovation to this exciting event

The 500px Fujifilm Global Photo Walk is an annual worldwide event where thousands of photographers come together on the same day to celebrate their local communities through their love for photography. Beautiful photos and experiences had during the photo walks are shared, enjoyed, and discussed on 500px. Last year, the Global Photo Walk involved over 7,000 photographers who explored 137 cities on all 7 continents. Walks occurred everywhere from parks, to nature reserves, to busy urban streets with nearly 9,000 images shared across social media and on
Image Title: Don't Give Up #500pxGPW15

Lucky winners of the Global Photo Walk will receive a Fujifilm X-T1 Kit (500PX STAFF PICK: BEST MARKETPLACE PHOTO) awarded for the best photo submitted (and accepted) to 500px Prime, as judged by the 500px editorial team. Another category (500PX STAFF PICK: MOST RELEVANT THEME PHOTO) will receive a Fujifilm X-T10 kit, awarded  for the photo that best captures the theme “Explore with Friends” as judged by the 500px editorial team. Additionally, 500PX STAFF PICK: MOST CREATIVE MOBILE PHOTO Category will also receive a Fujifilm X-T10 Kit, awarded for the most creative photo that is taken with a mobile phone, as judged by the 500px editorial team. POPULAR VOTE: COMMUNITY FAVORITE will be receiving a Fujifilm X30, a prize awarded for the photo that received the highest number of likes on 500px. Lastly, COMMUNITY PICK: FAVORITE HOST will also receive a Fujifilm X30, awarded to the host who submits the best group photo, as judges by the 500px editorial team.

Official hashtags for the Photo Walk: #500pxGPW15, #fujifilmph #coloursdigitalfoto

More photos via: FACEBOOK and/or 500px  <------ click="" comment---------="" navigate="" that="" to="">
Title: Why Not? #500pxGPW15
Explore With Friends. Photo credits: Abel Matthew Silawan

Photo credits: Gian James Maagad
Photo credits: Abel Matthew Silawan

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BEYOND TV's Hiking For Adults- An Environmental Awareness Series

Part of its Environmental Awareness Series, BEYOND TV is inviting everyone to join the HIKING FOR ADULTS event this coming September 19, 2015 (Saturday) at Mapawa Nature Park, Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City.

The HIKING FOR ADULTS event is one of the many programs of BEYOND TV aside of Krav Maga, Basic Life Support, Survival Skills and Disaster Preparedness, Mountain Biking, and Discover Scuba Diving One Day Activity and Scuba Diving Courses.

Accordingly, "The benefits of of hiking have been enumerated time and again by various articles and websites and yes, probably even by your doctor. We organize hikes in the wasy and moderate category in nearby hiking trails, incorporating talks about the flora and fauna we encounter along the way. Our hikes will include dips in hidden waterfalls and pools, and eating lunch on a grassy meadow, hillside, or among trees."

Beyond TV is a company dedicated to providing kids with opportunities to maximize their full potential through experiential learning, using the natural environment as a catalyst to enable them to meet the challenges of a changing world. We aim to equip kids with the tools necessary for them to become the next generation of caring, self-aware, ethical, responsible leaders that our society needs. And we plan to make it fun!

The rate is at P750 per head with a minimum of 10 persons to compose a hike group which includes the following:
- Outdoor Facilitators and Hiking Guides
- Entrance Fee
- Park Fee
- Free Lunch

08:00 am                        - Meeting at Mapawa Nature Park Manager’s Hall
08:00 am- 08:30 am        - Registration
08:30 am– 09:30 am        - Ice Breakers
09:00 am-12:00 nn          - Trek
12:00 nn- 02:00 pm         - Lunch/Talk at Lake
02:00pm- 02:30 pm         - Finish Trek

02:30pm- 03:00 pm         - Processing

Get in touch with your inner adventurer.

For more info, contact: Ms Reina Bontuyan (0917-708-1568) and/or check their official website BEYOND TV OFFICIAL WEBSITE and facebook for the latest updates: BEYOND TV FACEBOOK FANPAGE.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Announcing the 8th Annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk Date

Scott Kelby announces the official date of his highly anticipated 8th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk™, the world’s largest photo walk! The event is happening Saturday, Oct. 3, in thousands of cities all over the world.

The Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk, dubbed the world’s largest global and social photography event, has grown immensely in size and popularity since the inaugural walk in 2007. Last year, more than 30,000 photographers of all walks of life and skill level converged to explore their corners of the world through photography and social community.

The concept of a Photo Walk is simple. Photo Walks are created by Walk Leaders in cities all over the world. Walkers  meet up at a pre-designated location – downtown areas, zoos, business parks, you name it! – to spend a few hours socializing, capturing images and sharing with like-minded people. At the end of the photo walk, most groups convene at local restaurants or taverns to share their images and experiences over food.

In addition to the event, photo walkers will be able to upload their favorite picture to our popular Photo Walk contest for a chance to win a digital copy of the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby. We will also name a Grand Prize winner and 10 finalists to be selected by Scott Kelby himself!

The event is free, but pre-registration is required. Register at, locate your city and complete the free sign up form. You can also apply to be a photo walk leader in your area.

This year, we encourage every photo walker to help support this year’s initiative to “Walk with a Purpose” by donating $1 to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya!

Additionally, participants can connect socially before, during and after the event using the hashtag #WWPW2015 hash tag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Connect with us on our flickr page at

About KelbyOne: Formerly The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) and, KelbyOne is the leading resource for online creative education worldwide. For more information, please visit

About Clement Dampal II: A Self-taught Diversified Lensman based in Cagayan de Oro, Northern Mindanao, Philippines who owns the award-winning travel site: A Photo Journalist of Business Week Mindanao and Cagayan Times, Clement was featured at Manila Bulletin's Picture Perfect Photographer of the Week. He is also a Travel Insider of CHOOSE Philippines and a member of both Wild Birds Photographers in the Philippines and Canon Clickers Club.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Article and Photos by: Clement Dampal II

Northern Mindanao, PHILIPPINES – The Municipality of Opol announced Apple Tree Resort and Hotel, the premier Resort and Hotel in Northern Mindanao, as the Champion of the 2nd Ostrich Festival’s Culinary Competition held last September 03, 2015 at Taboc Gym, Barangay Taboc, Opol, Misamis Oriental.
Apple Tree's Ostrich A la Burger

Participated by the Chefs/Cook coming from different establishments particularly in Opol namely Titing’s Kitchenette, Prawn House, Panagatan Restaurant, Seablings Restaurant, and Apple Tree Resort and Hotel competing for the 2nd Culinary Competition using the Ostrich meat as the main ingredient with this year’s theme: “Subayon ang usa ka tinguha hangtud nga magmalampuson”, the said competition was evaluated by qualified and experienced panel of judges started with Chef Candice Maureen Riconalla-Chan, and Chef Audrey C. Ramos, both from the Culinary Institute of Cagayan de Oro joined by Chef Nelia B. Lee, President of COHARA (Cagayan de Oro Hotels and Restaurants Association) who served as the Chairman of the Board.
The 2nd Ostrich Festival Culinary Competition held at Taboc Gym, Taboc, Opol, Misamis Oriental

The Panel of Judges during the competition
Criteria for Judging includes the presentation and general impression with 25% from the total score which stated that the dishes should be appetizing, pleasing, tasteful, and attractive and the meat slices should be in proportion. Composition about 25% includes the taste that should be in accordance to the national standards of nutritional values, color and flavor should enhance each other with the taste of the main ingredient that is the Ostrich meat and is naturally enhance. Another standard for evaluation includes the correct preparation of the dish at about 20% which includes the sanitary and hygienic handling of food and cleanliness in the working area. To sum up the 100% possible score, the X-Factor also known as the Local Captivating Name of the dish composes of 10% was included, wherein the dishes must have that “special something”.

Chef from Titing's Kitchenette
History suggests that in 1996, Mr Lorenzo U. Limketkai, an engineer together with his son Mr Heintje Limketkai started the business of ostrich farming in the Philippines and named it as the Philippine Ostrich and Crocodile Farms, Inc. becoming the pioneer of the Ostrich and Crocodile Industry in the country.

The father-and-son tandem bought their first three pairs of breeding Ostriches from Australia in July 1996 wherein Mr Heintje took a month-long training course on Ostrich farming on the said country. Soon after, the first Ostrich Farm was opened in Barangay Malanang, Opol, Misamis Oriental. Accordingly, the first Ostrich egg was laid on August 30, 1996, however, the hatching was a failure. A year after, a successful egg-hatching was celebrated for the first time in February 1997 as a live Ostrich chick hatched after a series of improvements of the egg-handling techniques and upgraded facilities. And the rest is history…
Apple Tree Resort and Hotel announced as the CHAMPION of the 2nd Ostrich Festival Culinary Competition

Ms Noemi Marla C. Cinco, the LGU Opol Tourism Officer excited to announced the winners of the said cooking competition. Panagatan Restaurant was hailed as the 2nd Placer while the Prawn House Restaurant proclaimed as the 1st Placer. Apple Tree Resort and Hotel on the other hand, the first timer of the said event declared as the Champion for the Ostrich Festival’s 2nd Culinary Competition garnered a 90.11 percentage of score.
Rey Colance and Ronel Caligang with the COHARA Officers

Apple Tree Resort and Hotel’s Chefs John Rey Colance and Ronel Caligang showcased their entries during the completion with these dishes: Ostrich Steak with mashed potato and honey-mustard sauce, Ostrich A la Hamburger and the Ostrich Kebab with Rice Pilaf that wowed the judges.

Congratulations to all the participants and winners of the 2nd Ostrich Festival Culinary Competition and have a Happy Fiesta to the Municipality of Opol!

More photos here: CLICK HERE >
Chef Audrey Ramos of Culinary Institute
of Cagayan de Oro (CIC)
Chef Audrey Ramos shares her comments to the
participated Chefs/Cook
Chef Nelia Lee (President of COHARA)
Chef Nelia Lee tasted one of the dishes during the 2nd Ostrich Festival Culinary Competition
Ms Candice Maureen Chan of Culinary Institute of Cagayan de Oro
John Rey Colance and Ronel Caligang of Apple Tree Resort and Hotel (ATRH)
Chefs from the SEABLINGS Restaurant
Chef from SEABLINGS Restaurant
Chef Audrey Ramos with the Chefs from the SEABLINGS Restaurant
Chefs from Titing's Kitchenette
Chef Nelia and Chef Candice with the Chefs of SEABLINGS Restaurant
Chef from Panagatan Restaurant
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