Best of both worlds - Mining and the Environment

People find it difficult to understand that one person would be an advocate for the environment and be part of the mining industry at the same time. Environment and Mining are the two ends of the spectrum as far as typical perspective is concerned. They are almost always (in the Philippines at least) irreconcilable. 
Before I became a geologist, I was a hiker/climber first. I've been to different places within the country and my love for mountains led me to an idea to make a career out of my passion. The idea came to me during an annual mountaineering congress in Misamis Oriental where a geologist/volcanologist rendered a speech on Philippine Mountains. I remember there were a handful of us in the audience but that event sparked something in me that changed my life forever. That speaker was none other than the late Dr. Raymundo S. Punongbayan of the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). His lecture showcased the evolution of mountains under different geologic processes, that land features/topography may change in an instant during catastrophic events. An example was Mt. Pinatubo which landscape was forever changed by its sudden eruption to form its present magnificent caldera. Dr. Punongbayan's closing remarks was "Climb now, because mountains are not there forever", I remember vividly. A year later, I was back in school and I shifted from B.S. Chemical Engineering to B.S. Geology and Geological Engineering.

In class, we were taught a lot of things to be good geologists and soon after be part of the mining industry.  But since Dr. Punongbayan was the one who exposed me to geology, I wanted to be a volcanologist too, not a mining geologist. I am also holding on to my advocacy to the environment, and mining in my mind was still a villain of the environment. But I wanted Volcanology simply for its namesake - volcanoes and mountains, which in my mind equaled climbing. 

After graduation, I sent my CV to different mining companies, and didn't even bothered to send one to PHIVOLCS.   The reason is the tempting high salary that private mining sectors offer even to fresh graduates. But there was a path which opened for me, when an acquaintance back then, called and offered to hire me for a specific project under his supervision. The project is the implementation of the Abandoned/Inactive/Closed Mines Rehabilitation Project (AICMRP) funded by The World Bank (WB). I accepted the job immediately. 

AICMRP is the effort of the Philippine government to address the negative issues thrown at the Mining Industry. It is an attempt to mitigate and eliminate environmental problems brought about by abandonment of various mines in the country. Being part of this project is a two-pronged approach to be a geologist and at the same time do something for the environment. Instead of hating an industry which undeniably is a part of our daily existence, I opened my mind and saw an opportunity to be part of the solution and got the best of both worlds.

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