Saw on tv the miners in Chile who were trapped for 69 days in a dungeon that could have been their tomb. With the extra-ordinary, methodical and careful rescue plan using a rescue capsule missile-like chamber, the 16 men had already been pulled from the mine today. It is expected that the remaining 17 men will also be rescued before sunrise Thursday.
I thought to myself how difficult it must have been to be a miner!
I don't know much about mines but I have a brief orientation of what it looks like during my visit to the Balatoc Mines supposedly for the tour last September 2009 as part of Nabil's (my first Couchsurfer) itinerary.
I have frequented Baguio City for the last ten years or so, but never read nor heard about the Balatoc Mines Tour until Nabil mentioned it as one of the places he wanted to visit when in Baguio City as part of our Manila-Banawe-Sagada - Baguio - Manila tour segment.
Balatoc Mines Tour is Benguet Mining Corporation’s one-of-a-kind underground tour located at Balatoc,Itogon,Benguet where one would enjoy being a miner for a day, dressed up in miners’ outfits, riding an underground train, exploring the tunnel and learning more about the mining culture of the Cordillera region in the Philippines.
I called up my friend Judith (originally from Sagada but currently living in Baguio) if she knows about Balatoc Mines Tour and good that she has been there for the first time about three months ago. She said that the cut-off time for the tours is 2:00 p.m.so we should take the first bus trip from Sagada.
We arrived in Baguio City around 12nn,checked our luggages at the Bus paid check-in counters,and looked for the jeepney headed in the direction of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). After getting lost in finding the right jeepney station, waiting in line for our turn, commuting for a good 30 minutes or so, we were finally at the site at 2:30 pm!
At the gate, the security guard informed us that the tour cut-off time is 2:30 p.m and so we were asked to come back the next day. We really didn't mind coming back to experience the mining tour, but we were scheduled to return to Manila that same day for our Bicol tour segment! Sensing our desire to take a peek of what's inside, we were allowed to get in and the friendly guide opened up the reception (entrance area) for us.
I put on my Wellingtons and a hard hat, and posed for pics at the mine train! We were also given a brochure. The Balatoc Mines Tour costs Php250.00 for adults (Php 150 for students) and lasts for about an hour -and -a half to two (2) hours. That is the reason we cannot be allowed entry to the mines so that everyone (esp. the ex-miners who are showing visitors how tunnels are dug and reinforced and doing the simulated explosion) are out of the tunnel by 4pm.
I will definitely come back and look forward to actually doing the Balatoc Mine Tour. This is part of my wish list for Baguio City!