Comm students together with BCAOWC members went boating around the quarry area in Bago River after the forum
(top photo) BCAOWC Chairman Edgar Hollero during the forum; BCAOWC members attending the forum
Boats used to carry three tons of sand from the quarry area
When it rains, they pray for a flood.
“It’s a sign that when there is flood, there is big amount of sand settling in the river and it means we will quarry more of it,” said Edgar Hollero, head of Bago City Aggregate Operators and Workers Cooperative.
BCAOWC is a community based organization set to operate commercial sand and gravel quarrying in Lag-asan, Bago City. This cooperative has been giving its more than 100 family members a source of income and a living.
Hollero also said that this business was passed on by their grandparents several before the establishment of the cooperative, adding, “This is the only thing that most of the people knew here.”
The process of their quarrying is done manually. Instead of big machineries, they utilize workers to dig sand beneath the Bago River using scoopers made of galvanized iron and it is carried by big shallow bancas.
In the forum conducted by a group of AB Communications students of University of St. La Salle on responsible mining last March 21, BCAOWC members told them that they follow rules to ensure safety when they quarry on the river.
“We only quarry in the two-hectare area set by the government, making sure that we do not affect other marine resources found in the river,” Hollero said.
The talk was a part of the environmental advocacy of the Comm students that gave information about the standards on responsible mining and its effects to the community’s health and environment in partnership with Bago City Environment and Natural Resources Office.
Vicente Mesias, CENRO head said that this business have brought positive impact to the community because they have been one of the sources of commercial sand of some construction companies found in Bago.
“As they gain profit, they [the community] should make sure that their business is safe to the people and to the surroundings through implementing environment protection programs like mangrove planting,” Mesias said.
Rowena Villanueva, one of the members of BCAOWC said that they could earn P300 per banca of quarried sand per day. “Because of this business, we have repaired our house, paid our debts and brought our children to school,” she said.
“This business is a blessing to us and I hope that this will be maintained in order to improve the situation some families here,” Vicenta Gaven said, who is expecting her child to graduate in college this month because of the income they got from quarrying.
Aside from a quarrying, Hollero also said that they plan to make other business to ensure the community has a sufficient income.
“The river has given us many things that answered our needs. Through a safe and sustainable mining we have, we will make sure that the river will get no harm from us but rather protection and preservation,” Hollero said.