“Once I regain my strength, I will still go back to mining,” declared Robert Buhway in Ilocano while recuperating at the Baguio City General Hospital, where he was confined after being rescued from a mining tunnel in Itogon. He is among 16 miners trapped in the tunnel during the height of typhoon “Nina” last September.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – “Once I regain my strength, I will still go back to mining,” declared Robert Buhway in Ilocano while recuperating at the Baguio City General Hospital, where he was confined after being rescued from a mining tunnel in Itogon. He is among 16 miners trapped in the tunnel during the height of typhoon “Nina” last September.
“My income in farming in Maddela, Quirino is not enough to feed my family,” he added when interviewed by Nordis.
All his family, including his parents and relatives are in Quirino Province and he said that farming there cannot support their needs. The land they till is not enough, he explains. Because of low prices for farm produce, sometimes they do not break even.
Buhway had just arrived in Itogon on September 15 from Maddela, where he left his wife and child to try his luck at small-scale mining. He joined the miners who are mostly from Ifugao, where his parents hail.
He believes in gasat (luck) in his new job. He explained they had a sharing scheme with his financier who deploys miners in the various levels through the Antamok Goldfields portal at Level 430 of the Benguet Corporation (BC).
During the height of typhoon “Nina”, he and his 20-year-old cousin Jeyson Himmayod were deployed to Level 700. Despite his short stay in the area, he claimed they had been entering the said tunnel during past typhoons. In fact, other miners did the same as 16 of them went on duty in various tunnels that day.
Level 700 is a drainage tunnel, according to BC Mine Operations Manager Isabelo Velez.
Miners confirm this, saying that at normal times, the water would be up to chin level that a short man would drown.
Buhway and Himmayod are among the 10 lucky miners who survived the week-long ordeal. Both were rescued on Sept. 30 and were brought to the Baguio General Hospital (BGH). Six miners died.
He narrated that for eight days, he and Himmayod were trapped at level 700. When water reached and flooded that area, they tried to locate rocks where they could stand to avoid being drowned.
“I almost lost my sanity,” he said in Ilocano. His determination to survive was very strong as he had been thinking of his family.
They ran out of food and water as they brought only enough for a day. “Nag-inum kami ti danum a nag-ayus idiay tunnel. Kinnan mi pay ti bado mi gapu iti bisin” (We drank water flowing in the tunnel. We ate our clothes due to hunger), Buhway related.
At the hospital, a tube wass inserted between his armpit and waist. This is to drain fluid from his lungs, a health worker explained.
He and Himmayod, who also had a tube to remove fluid from his lungs, were left behind in the hospital.
Despite the experience that nearly took his life, Buhway is already looking forward to going back to work in the mines.
“Awan met sabali a trabaho” (There is no other work), he said. (Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat)