We arrived at 12 midnight, had a short story conference and went to bed. But I always find it hard to sleep in a new place on the first night. And though I was tired, I just can't close my eyes and drift off to la-la land.
It was my turn to shoot the following morning. We were headed to a special tourist spot in Itogon, Benguet: The Balatoc Mines.
I'm usually scared of crossing bridges. There's something about me and balance, that doesn't go quite right. Sometimes I easily lose my balance and tip off even on an even floor. How much more on a hanging bridge?!
But when there's a great view to distract you, I guess it won't seem as scary.
You can even ask others to take your picture.
Or take your pic yourself. Just be careful not to smile too hard and lose your balance.
After overcoming the fear of the bridge, it's time to brave the tunnels. But before we go in, safety first. We had to put our gear just like good miners.
We had to wear the helmet with matching headlights and plastic boots. My little girl Bea and my Starstruck boy Gabby were all set to conquer the dark tunnels. But that's not the real tunnel yet. It's a cool banner right smack in the center of the receving area letting the guests have a feel of the real tunnel.
But the real entrance to the tunnel was a lot darker.
It was scarier inside. Our tour guide said this tunnel was used by the Japanese during WW!!. Makes you think if some of them linger around in the deep crevices of the tunnel.
The mine train ride was cool. We got to see how real miners do their thing and how exactly the gold is extracted from the ores. As a kid, I used to think gold's natural shape was a bullion. Now I know, it takes a whole lot of effort to dig in the tunnels, scrape and filter the gold dust before you can form it into a gold bar.
Too bad, we didn't see a real gold bar. The guide says, operations in the Vegas tunnel have long been stopped because much of the gold deposits have been depleted already. Now it's just a tourist spot showcasing the right way to do mining.
I have new respect for miners. I think it takes a lot of guts to go in the tunnel and actually look for gold. I mean, no matter how many security measures you take, man can never control nature and it's like going into your own tomb everytime you go in the tunnel.
Still, going there was a great experience. If ever you do go to Baguio, drop by the Balatoc mines and see for yourself.