Gold Mining in Paracale
Paracale area, Camarines Norte, Bikol Region, Philippines
Thanks to a seller I regularly buy from, I now have some genuine photos associated with the tektites. They pretty much confirm the photos of the gold mining operations in Bikol that I have seen on the internet.
I have never been to Bikol (also spelt Bicol) as my wife says it is dangerous for me. Apparently there are NPA (New People's Army) operating in Bikol, especially in the mining areas. I am told (and this is rumour really) that illegal miners pay these guys to mine in the form of 'revolutionary taxes'. Bribes are common place and I'm sure the miners pay whoever needs paying so that they can continue to mine and continue to put food on the table of their family. Where the money goes is not their concern and who knows where it goes - most likely on food for the people accepting the 'taxes'. I've also been told that a white guy is a possible kidnap target. Having said that, I regularly hear of white guys and other Asian foreigners in the Bikol region. Obviously if you have money you are a target, so it is a case of getting in, buying the tektites and leaving asap, without staying overnight.
So this leads to the obvious question - The NPA has been classified as a terrorist organisation, so do gold and tektites (a by-product) support terrorism? This is hard to answer, but basically I would argue no - or at least not in any direct way. The miners are poor, any extra tektite money is far more likely to be spent on rice and red horse beer! Tektites or no tektites, these operations would still go on as they are really after the gold. It is poverty and inequality that breeds terrorism in my opinion - at least these guys have 'jobs'. Any tektite money is most likely to filters into the community and help pay for food, housing and school fees. If nobody buys tektites, the tektites will simply be discarded in waste heaps. You may be much better informed than me on this subject - contact me if you have any further comments to make, as this is an interesting subject.
I was looking at a map of gold mining in the Philippines recently at an exhibit in Ayala Museum, Makati, Philippines. It was in an exhibit of ancient Filipino Gold and it is amazing stuff. The Filipinos haven't left much in the way of ancient buildings here (even these days most the buildings are constructed of wood), but these remarkable gold artifacts really show wealth and an amazingly advanced society. I hope these are treasured for future generations and all Filipino's should be proud of their heritage. Anyway back to the map of gold mining - it reads like a book for tektite localities. Basically wherever you dig down you find tektites - why dig down? Construction or mining. In the Philippines it is the gold mining that recovers the bulk of the tektites!
Locality 1 - Panning for gold in Baybayin, Paracale, Camarines Norte, Bikol, Philippines.
ABOVE: Panning for gold in a freshwater, probably artificial, lake. This locality is Baybayin, Paracale, Camarines Norte, Bikol, Philippines.
ABOVE: Some of the tektites found in Baybayin, Paracale.
Locality 2: Farm Site Pinarbirayan, Paracale, Camarines Norte, Bikol, Philippines.
ABOVE: I call this 'The Trench'. The water-filled trench is around 5-6 ft deep. Why is the man on the right wearing a mask? Well this lucky chap gets to go in the trench and dig out the gravel. Daniel assured me this was OK because, you see all the tubing, well this is how he breathes. The other guys pump air down to him whilst he digs. I was actually more concerned by this man being buried alive rather than drowning, but fair point! Anyway, the by-product of the gold are tektites!
Click here for another image of a similar operation. The caption for the image on this website says 'Young boy about to dive into a narrow shaft filled with muddy water. He has a plastic hose in his mouth for air supply. He will be digging gold ore 6.5 metres below the surface for the next 4 hours. Camarines Norte on Southeast Luzon'. Not a job that I'd like to do...
ABOVE: Many small and relatively low-grade specimens were found in 'The Trench' at Farm Site Pinarbirayan, Paracale, Camarines Norte, Bikol, Philippines.
Locality 3: Landing, Paracale, Camarines Norte, Bikol, Philippines.
ABOVE: These guys go into the 'lake'. Apparently it is marine, so in fact it is probably more of a lagoonal area. Here they dredge the gravel and sort it using the wooden things you see on the boat. I am guessing that again they use air pumped down a tube whilst they are under water.
ABOVE: The resulting tektites from Landing, Paracale.
Gold and tektite distribution in the Philippines
ABOVE: A very poor shot of a gold distribution map. I quickly snapped this on my phone in Ayala Museum, Makati, Philippines before the security guy caught me and enforced the 'no photography rule'!
ABOVE: An old map by Beyer, 1945 showing tektite distribution. Tektites also occur in the gold mining area of Masbate.
I hope that this section helped enlighten you on the lengths people go to in order to recover the gold and tektites.