From TVIRD Scholar to Geologist: Christine Hamoy Takes Exploration Team to New Discoveries
No one from her village thought she would become a professional – much more, a licensed geologist. Not one. However, Christine Joy Hamoy, “Tintin” to family and friends, surprised everyone when she passed the Board Examination for Geologists late last year.
Her father, Artemio, was once a small-scale miner in the early 90s. He worked 24/7 in a tunnel at Mt. Canatuan and was among the hundreds of illegal miners from this province and others from as far away as Davao who flocked to the village with hopes of finding a better life.
Her parents came from neighboring Zamboanga Sibugay Province and were drawn to Canatuan where a “gold rush” took place prior to the entry of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD).
A dangerous place
Canatuan then was haven for criminals – a dangerous place to live. Robberies were rampant during those days as armed groups roamed freely in the area and neighboring villages.
There were no roads nor bridges connecting Canatuan to the rest of the province. There were also no hospital nor doctors and life was hard for the artisanal miners.
The lure of a better life, however, was hard to resist. Despite the dangers, Christine’s family gambled and settled in the growing community.
Despite the anti-mining sentiments of the time, TVIRD entered Zamboanga del Norte province and was confronted with rallies, pickets and demonstrations. However, the company did not waver in its conviction to operate in the area.
By adopting the “open door” policy and a spirit of transparency – as well as successfully engaging the community on a common roadmap for development – it developed its gold-silver project and took its place among major Philippine mining projects in the early 2000s.
The company also implemented projects and programs that targeted those who needed it the most, including its indigenous Subanon hosts. One of these is the landmark TVIRD Scholarship Program and Tintin was among those who passed the requirements of the program.
She was a salutatorian when she graduated from the company-supported Canatuan National High School in 2013 and became one of its scholars under the Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences program. With a scholarship under her belt, she then embarked on a BS Geology course at the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU) in Dumaguete City.
Tintin is a typical millennial. She is down to earth, went out with friends, got involved in a relationship – but never neglected her studies. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree, Tintin took the licensure board examination last year and passed it in one go.
A dependable, team player worker
Today, Tintin is a dependable, capable team player in TVIRD’s Exploration Team.
“She is a good worker. Dependable and efficient. She’s an employee that companies would like to work with,” said TVIRD Senior Geologist Jay Elvina, who also works as part-time professor at NORSU. She also shared that even as a student, Tintin was good with both her studies and fieldwork.
Along with other company scholars employed by the company, Tintin has already worked in Canatuan and other tenements of TVIRD. She has crossed rivers, walked in various terrain, entered numerous tunnels with narrow passages and literally crawled to reach her destination.
“Yes, sometimes the job is risky since these tunnels have different “destinos” or sub-tunnels.
Oftentimes, the tunnels that we enter even have sub-tunnels located just above us,” Tintin explained. “But the company also made sure that safety measures are in place and everything is working before everyone does his or her job,” she added.
At 23, Tintin has a long way to go. Both she and her parents are thankful to the company for giving her the opportunity to become a geologist and a job that has helped support their family. She is thankful that her mentors in college also prepared her for the job she loved.
Education and lasting peace
As early as a year before it started operating, TVIRD constructed the first schools of the village. The first elementary school it built has a library and books as well as competent teachers with subsidized salaries and benefits. Children were even provided with school buses and internet connection in order to encourage more students to attend classes.
TVIRD also built and maintained the 79-kilometer stretch of road that connected the village with the rest of the Zamboanga Peninsula. Residents of Siocon and neighboring Baliguian town felt safer compared to the makeshift roads during the goldrush.
At the height of the company’s operations, the company maintained a road network of over 140 kilometers. Aside from allowing safe passage for people and goods, it likewise mobilized peace and progress – possibly for all time.