*** I wrote this awhile ago about a job journalist Abe Almirol and I did for Oxfam-Australia in January about a town just beginning to build the infrastructure for an Australian open-pit mining operation in Nuevo Vizcaya, Luzon.  For more images please visit my Portfolio Page. ***

It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was conducting a photography workshop in Cavite, a city near Manila when I got a call from Oxfam-Australia’s mining ombudsperson. That night I rushed back to my place in Manila (2 hours away), packed, and jumped on an overnight bus headed north towards the mineral rich mountains in Nueva Vizcaya. (more…)

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As a balikbayan [Filipino with a foreign passport returning home], sometimes you’re confronted by a situation that makes you embarrassed to have a Canadian passport. This last Christmas season was pretty crushing for both the Filipino and Canadian in me.

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A self-portrait: I'm off to the 7.5km artificial landmass that's the result of 16 years of dumping. The causeway is made up of toxic mine tailings (a mix that includes dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury). The causeway used to be 9kms long, the tide has been slowly eroding it into the ocean. Of course this has resulted in the death of the corals and most life in this bay. What's left are caught and eaten by fishers and their families, resulting in health problems (the father and son behind me included).

I spent my Xmas on the island of Marinduque. This is where a Canadian mining company had two “accidental” spills of toxic mine tailings into two different rivers, and purposefully dumped 200 metric tonnes of the stuff right into the bay at surface level.

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“Show me the proof” said the Australian Ambassador to me.

He tells me this after a big talk about how amazing Australia is with it’s generous aid packages to the Phils. Apparently it provides the most livelihood aid to this country. He tells me this after I ask him what his government is planning to do about the disaster in Rapu-Rapu.

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Journal Entry:  07.11.07  –boat from Legazpi City to Rapu-rapu Island, 2pm–

It all reminds me of my days on a Palawan ferry banca (boat): the rhythmic sound of the water going over the pontoons, the slight clamminess of the skin because of the saltwater, the flying fish jumping out to avoid the boat.  One thing I don’t remember, and that’s not to say I didn’t experience it, is the wooziness, slight headache, and general sleepiness that I’m feeling right now.  I haven’t been on the water for years though, so my sea legs have had little practice.

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