Sheryl Rose Andes | Philippines 2013 | 29 Min. | OmeU
Balitok (Ilocano term for gold) depicts a slice of life and reality of members of the indigenous groups Kalanguya and Kankanaey in the province of Nueva Vizcaya. In the lush, mountainous, and mineral-rich province, which is one of the priority mining sites of the Philippine government, they depend on artisanal and small-scale mining as their means of subsistence. Following 13-year-old Ongan and Mona, who has been an artisanal miner nearly all her life, the documentary shows the laborious stages of mining in an observational style: from extracting the ore, transporting, milling, panning, separating pyrite and gold up to the heating process. As a mother of eight and breadwinner of the family, Mona mainly relies on panning gold to make ends meet. Ongan, a descendant of the Guilao clan that discovered gold in the community, helps his parents in their small mine in the mountain while trying to balance his role as a teenager, student, miner and son. Their region is also home to the British-owned FCF Minerals Corporation, a multi-national large-scale mining company and the company is already poised for their next large-scale mining plan covering more than 3,000 hectares of land. While the focus is on artisanal and small-scale mining, Balitok also sheds light on the bigger picture of the mining issue in the Philippines.