Gold from Sludges is Life

Gold has been a measure of richness of a person. It has been the stereotype ever since it was discovered. David (2011) mentions in her documentary that “when you have gold, you are considered to be rich”, that line may not be true for the people of Paracale because they may have harvested a lot of Gold, but still they cannot get out of the slob.

It was 23rd of May 2011 when one of the most prominent documentary news affairs in the Philippines published a documentary which is entitled “Gintong Putik”. Fortunately, I was able to watch that awe-inspiring documentary. In fact, I am really fond of watching documentary films because I consider it as my second source of learning not just in academics, but also in real life situations.

“Gintong Putik” is about an impoverished family who lives in a gold-rich third class municipality but has never been living a life that is stable and worry-free. Kara David, armed with a photo, went back to Paracale in Camarines Norte to look for a boy she met a decade ago. His name was Jimmy Dasco, whom she encountered before when she was first assigned as a cub reporter for Brigada Siete. And after ten years, Kara went back to the said municipality to see if there were big changes in the life of its inhabitants.

It was not even a surprise that nothing changed in the life of the people. The only thing that constantly changes is their age; the kids grew 10 years older and the old ones grew older. Their main source of income is “pagkakabod” or what we commonly know as compressor mining in search for gold. In most compressor mining, a group of professional people is required to work in order to dig up for gold. It is true for the people of Paracale, but this time the whole family is involved. One is tasked to burrow himself and dig for sand which contains a little amount of gold. Others were tasked to strengthen the wall, filter and pan. Every family member is moving, even the kids.

Compressor mining is considered to be the 5th most dangerous work which kills a lot of lives, what more to the families lacking the equipments used in digging for gold, it is really that unsafe. Matutina (2011) mentions in his blog, that the older and more mature members of the family usually take the riskier job of diving in a thick soup of mud and staying under for about four hours digging. The younger ones do the menial jobs like washing and panning. The only source of life and communication under the thick soup of mud is the hose that supplies oxygen. Imagine, for a small amount of gold, a life could be taken away. In fact, Jimmy’s father almost died in that work because the wall of the hole tilted. He was just so brave enough to escape and fight for his life. Though he already experience that, Mang Agapito didn’t stop digging for Gold because if he stops, there would be no food filling the starving stomach of his sons and daughters.

On the other note, Jonel Dasco, Jimmy’s younger brother, was interviewed by Kara. On the whole duration of the interview, what caught my attention was the diploma of Jomel. He said that he wants to stop mining for Gold. This time, he wants to focus in his studies. He wants to enter high school, then study in college and eventually get a good job. He wants to get out of the mud. Jomel is hopeful of finishing his studies, but his hopes were hindered by their social status. They can’t even have enough food for lunch and dinner, what more in providing all the school supplies and requirements that he needs, he mentioned.

Meanwhile, after the long day of digging and diving, they finally collected a little amount of gold and sold it to an old lady who used to be the only person that purchases gold in the municipality. The price of the gold collected is P1, 886 only, but they cannot get 100% of the money. The price of the gasoline used in the compressor plus the commission of the owner of the compressor will be deducted from the original value then it will be divided into seven persons. Imagine, the 12 hours of digging and filtering just costs less than 200 or a hundred, thinking that their work could even eat their lives, and considered to be much riskier than those working in the industries, yet they stayed to be poor or even poorer.

The story must have been written by a concerned citizen who happens to encounter the status of the people living in Paracale. His or her intention might not only be waking up the heads of the people in the government but also to help us realize how simple things are important. We may have rants here and there, but come to think of it, we are able to eat more than three times a day, get all those things that go with the trend, and live a much comfortable life, yet we still have complaints. On the other hand, the people of the gold-rich third municipality only ask for a simple thing, and that is to have food in their table.

I think what caught my attention was first the title; it made me think of what really is inside “Gintong Putik”. A lot of creative techniques were used to capture the viewer’s attention. Basically, how Kara David narrates the whole story of the documentary film says it all. I like how she delivered all her points and be able to instill all the values that the documentary has. Watching the said documentary, I felt like I should be contented to what I have now. I should not be asking for more because looking at the situation of Jimmy’s family, I am in better position which I think should not be taken for granted. Other people might just view it as a simple documentary which might be viewed to be as something that asks to respond on the underlying situation. But if we will further understand and deepen our realizations, there are more values that the documentary possesses like hope, perseverance, value of education and life. “Gintong Putik” was probably published to send a message to the viewers, and let them realize things which is essential in living a healthy life.

Everybody thinks that we can hollow out gold and get rich that easily, but for Jonel whose daily task is to dive for gold, a simple paper is what the best treasure he can possess, and that is his DIPLOMA. Real treasures were not the ones underground. The values, knowledge and education that we acquired were the real riches that a person could have that anyone could not steal. It just takes too much thinking, but the results will be worth it which could pull us out from the pool of mud.

References:

Matutina, A. (2011 November 7). Gintong Putik. Shooting Up. Retrieved August 12, 2013, http://annaisabelle.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/gintong-putik/

David, K. (2011 May 23). Gintong Putik. I Witness. Retrieved August 12, 2013, http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/263068/publicaffairs/iwitness/rerun-of-gintong-putik-a-kara-david-i-witness-documentary

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