Benguet is arguably the most pockmarked and pitted province in the country today due to centuries of mining for gold--a century of corporate mining continued today by small-scale miners. It's a sight to behold: a mountain with hundreds of bore holes on its façade, and even more fascinating to enter one of these dogholes or 'usok' as the locals call them. The dogholes extend for several kilometers snaking horizontally and vertically. It's wide enough to crab walk in single file.
Mining in these mountains is a dangerous job since the threat of a tunnel collapsing to bury one alive is a constant. One can also die because of oxygen deprivation or gas poisoning. During typhoons, the danger of overflowing rivers looking for alternate water channels have resulted to flooding in some dogholes, killing miners who did were unable to get out in time.
It is typically a man's job. But hard times have forced even some Benguet women to enter the dogholes. These are not typical women, however. For one, some of them are already grandmothers! In between crawling in the dark, dripping tunnels for several hours to collect sacks of ore, these women are raising families and doing household chores.
Join Howie Severino as he explores the world inside dogholes accompanied by some of the Lola Minera, on I-Witness this Monday, right after Saksi on GMA-7.