Visualizing a future with formalized artisanal and small scale mining; The Historic Gold Town of Paracale
By Lyka Cabatay, National Communications Assistant, planetGOLD Philippines - December 20, 2021
Paracale, a municipality in the province of Camarines Norte, Philippines, is a place where gold is in such abundance that the town’s name itself reflects its history in mining. Paracale was derived from para cale, meaning “canal digger”.
Local art showing the importance of gold mining to the community in Paracale (Photo by Dr. Kevin Telmer)
“For as long as I can remember, artisanal gold mining has been a part of our town’s history- if you grew up here, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve most likely been involved in various parts of the gold trade in one way or another,”
– Mr. Serafin Dasco, President of the Federation of Miners Association, a small-scale mining association advocating for miners’ rights and welfare while working towards ensuring that the operations of its members comply with government formalization requirements. This means that the miners operate as formal businesses that meet the standards of conduct required by the regulators.
At present, mining activities are scattered throughout the 27 barangays of the municipality of Paracale, with the majority of the population involved in artisanal and small-scale gold mining activities (ASGM). In Camarines Norte, ASGM provides livelihood opportunities for approximately 11,000 families. In Paracale, it is estimated that over half of the total population are engaged in Small Scale Mining (SSM), either as a mine worker, financier, processor, independent gold panner, or in the many support services business. Many residents choose to work in different aspects of ASGM to gain financial independence and acquire new wealth.
Paracale’s proud heritage in artisanal gold mining and craftsmanship
Paracale’s residents recognize and celebrate the town’s identity as a “gold town” and embrace it as a source of pride. The town emblem of Paracale features a miner’s hat, pickaxe, and shovel, symbolizing the importance of gold mining, alongside a symbol of fish and boar, symbolizing the town’s popularity as a fishing spot and tourist destination for its sandy beaches.
The municipal building of Paracale features a mini-museum proudly displaying ornate and unique jewelry pieces made from locally sourced gold, highlighting the craftsmanship of local artisans. Every last week of January until the second day of February, the province also hosts a colourful festival celebrating the importance of gold mining in the town called “Pabirik Festival”, named after the process of gold panning called pagbibirik in Filipino, which features ASGM-themed parade floats.