‘They didn’t heed my warning; I feel guilty’

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Monday, March 3, 2014

EVERY midnight, Eduardo Maying, 46, descends into a tunnel completely devoid of light.

Clad in helmet and boots, he turns on the flashlight, his companion for eight hours in darkness.

As he goes inside a mountain of rock, he’s no stranger anymore to the constant creaking of roofs. He also breathes dust.


Once he breaks coal, it is the start of his graveyard shift.

Maying, who resides in the hilly barangay of Cahumayan, Danao City, has been a miner for more than 30 years. Dust, darkness and death are some of the risks he faces every day. He has run into many near-death experiences, but last Saturday’s accident was different.

One of his co-workers, 22-year-old Melvin Landero, died after a section of the tunnel caved in.

Maying survived, but now his conscience bothers him. The accident could have been prevented, he said.

When interviewed by Sun.Star Cebu, he said he told a foreman last Thursday to declare the area as dangerous, but his warning fell on deaf ears.

“Kani laging yano ra tang trabahante dili ta paminawon (People don’t listen to ordinary workers like me),” he lamented.

Landero was waiting to load the coal into the conveyor when the roof collapsed at 6:30 a.m.


If not for the young miner, Maying said, he and the other miners could have been killed. “Siya mao’y nag-alerto namo tanan (He alerted all of us),” he said.

Landero ran back to the entrance, but rocks and soil fell on him. Other miners, including Maying, then ran to his rescue.

But as some parts of the roof also gave way, they had no choice but to save themselves.

“Niingon gyud ko niya, ‘Pasayloa mi dong’(I asked him to forgive us),” Maying said.

The cave-in, he said, was not the first one this year.

In early February, a cave-in also happened, but they were already outside the tunnel. A few days later, they got trapped when another accident occurred.

The tunnel in Barangay Dungga, Danao City is eight feet high and three meters wide.

The mining site belongs to Seri Mining, but it has subcontracted Virlo Construction and Development Corp.

Maying started working as a miner when he was still 12.

Before they used to have emergency breathing devices, but not anymore, he said. They don’t even wear masks.

The management policy, he said, has also changed. They are not charged daily anymore. Their salary would depend on how much coal they could get.

“Tungod sa kapobre, maningkamot gyud mi ug kuha bahala na ug kuyaw ug kapoy (Because we are poor, we have to try to get as much coal as we can, never mind the risks and exhaustion),” Maying said.

During their graveyard shift, he said, at least 20 miners work. If they produce two trucks of coal, they get at least P400 at the end of the day.

Because mining operations were suspended following the accident, carpentry is Maying’s fallback occupation. He also repairs houses.

“Pero mobalik ra gihapon ko sa pagmina kung pwede na. Diha na man ko nagdako. Mao na na akong kinabuhi (But I intend to return to mining once it’s allowed. I grew up with it. Mining is my life),” Maying said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 03, 2014.

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