‘The fortunes and misfortunes of the mines are the fortunes and misfortunes of Benguet.”
A People’s History of Benguet Province (Bagamaspad, Hamada-Pawid)
The Philippines has a long history of small-scale gold mining, with the Ibaloy and Kankana-ey tribes as traditional miners. Ownership of gold was attributed to the ancestral deity Balitok and the people shared the bounty of the land, offering ritual animals to the spirits before extraction. Mining enhanced a person’s prestige and was part of the indigenous socio-political system that benefited the community.
In 1995, the Philippine government granted 100% ownership of mining investments to foreign owned companies. With mining concessions came land rights that led to the displacement of the indigenous people. Entire mountains have disappeared, river systems polluted, rights to ancestral land ignored and the mining sites left abandoned. These areas in Itogon are dystopic landscapes, shaped by our own desires and needs. Still it continues to be a source of livelihood for the community that continue to live and work in the area, scavenging off the remains, squatters on their own land.
Nominee Prix Pictet 2015, Disorder
FORMAT13 Exposure 2013
Immanent Geographies The Drawing Room Singapore 2013
Silver Winner PX3
Prix de la Photographie Paris 2012
Contemporary Landscapes of the Philippines Manila Contemporary 2012