Subanon among model personnel
Betoy Paninong couldn’t believe it when he heard his name being called as a Model Employee awardee during the company’s Labor Day celebration. It may just have been a mistake. Or he may just be hearing things. They couldn’t be serious, he reasoned to himself.
But his fellow employees at TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD) cheered and egged him on to receive the award. Still reluctant and with disbelief, he went on stage.
Paninong, 29, is a Subanon from the hinterland village of Canatuan in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. When TVIRD came to his homeland in early 2000 to pursue its intention of mining gold and silver, Paninong was hired as a blue guard of a security agency commissioned by the company to secure its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement area within the Subanon ancestral domain. In 2003, he was drafted into the Special Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary which the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) assigned to provide security in Canatuan in 2002. Paninong stayed with the peace-keeping force for over two years, yet he always longed to work as a regular employee of TVIRD. However, his high school diploma, he thought, was not enough to get him a slot in the company.
Betoy Paninong, has proven that, given equal opportunity and with patience and determination to learn, indigenous peoples (IPs) can keep up with the best.
“Gusto gayud unta nako nga maka-eskwela sa kolehiyo sa una, apan tungod sa kalisod taman ra gayud sa high school akong natapos. Apan niini, nangita gayud ako sa paagi nga makakat-on sa ubang matang sa trabaho (I had really wanted to enrol in college, but because of financial difficulties I was only able to finish high school. Despite this, I found ways to learn different types of work),” Paninong relates in Visayan, the lingua franca in the area.
Lady luck smiled when, in early 2005, TVIRD’s Assay Laboratory needed the services of a cupel man, whose main task is to fabricate cupels – small cups made from animal bone ashes – used in testing the gold and silver content of ore samples from the field. Paninong applied for the job, learned the cupel-making process quickly, and did his work diligently. His positive work habits and eagerness to learn did not go unnoticed by his superiors and peers. And so within the same year he was promoted to being Sample Prep Man, a job that required him to handle ore samples and to prepare them for testing. He proved equal to the task.
The Model Employees of Canatuan: (from left) Dante Comisas (Environment crew), Jeremias Juanico (Carpenter 1), Rodrigo Berioso (Plumber III), Wilfredo Tumangkis (Safety Training Assistant and Labor-Management Council chair), Paninong, Alma Apilar (Data Encoder), and Amy Domingo (Asst. Met Accountant): “All our accomplishments are a result of the concerted efforts of not just one or two employees, but of all of us. Yet there are a few who really shone in their respective fields.”
Barely a year later, Paninong was again promoted to his current post as Lab Assistant. In this new position he prepares samples for testing and also operates an Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS), a highly technical and sensitive piece of laboratory equipment that is usually handled by technicians with background in chemistry or related fields. Despite his limited educational attainment, Paninong was able to learn and to understand the complex procedures of operating the AAS. In so doing, Paninong has proven that, given equal opportunity and with patience and determination to learn, indigenous peoples (IPs) can keep up with the best.
Jericho Gamerlo, TVIRD Canatuan Assay Department manager, is impressed with Paninong’s work ethic and quick-learning ability: “Betoy’s determination and drive to learn things quickly is indeed extraordinary. It is a fact that many of our Subanon brethren in the remote mountains do not have quality education because schools are almost always inaccessible. But Betoy proves that with a little bit of work, they can easily make up for their disadvantages. Despite his academic shortfall, he became the first-ever Subanon to handle an AAS. So when the time came that I had to choose a model employee in the Assay Lab, I didn’t have difficulty doing so.”
As a tribute to the company’s outstanding employees during the Gossan (gold-silver) phase – the first phase – of its mining operations in Canatuan, TVIRD joined the worldwide Labor Day celebration by recognizing those who have served the company long and well.
Jim Guillermo, TVIRD Canatuan Finance manager and acting General Manager, expressed the company’s gratitude to all employees, awardees and non-awardees alike, for their contributions to the success of the Gossan Project.
“All our accomplishments are a result of the concerted efforts of not just one or two employees, but of all of us. Yet there are a few who really shone in their respective fields. Please accept my congratulations,” Guillermo told the jubilant audience.
Model employee and service awardees are joined by TVIRD officials: “This recognition gives me great pride.”
TVIRD began decommissioning activities for its Gossan Project, and is now busily preparing the groundwork for the second phase of its mining operations in Canatuan, the Sulphide (copper-zinc) phase. Construction activities are expected to resume soon.
The other Model Employee awardees from the other departments were: Romeo Bernal (Materials Management), Ronie Cabellida (Administration), Jeremias Juanico (Mill Maintenance), Bonifacio Balili (Mines), Dante Comisas (Environment) Alma Apilar (Finance), Rodrigo Berioso (Civil Engineering Services), Amy Domingo (Mill Operations), Wilfredo Tumangkis (Safety), and Nelson Calexterio (Mobile Maintenance).
Service Loyalty Awards were also given to: Raul Trayvilla, Alberto dela Pe?