Tantingco: the gold mines of Floridablanca
For a very long time, Kapampangians have speculated that there must be gold waiting to be mined in Pampanga. Our ancestors had words like dulang, which the ancient Kapampangan dictionaries define as “to search for gold by scouring or washing the sand or sifting it diligently with water”, lapang, which means “a vein of gold , or gold as it is found in the mines” and of course guinto which refers to “gold, jewels, to be worn as ornament”. Thus, the first Kapampangans distinguished unmined gold (lapang ) mined and processed gold (guinto).There are also places like Sapang Gintu in Mexico City and Guiguinto in Bulacan, which used to be part of Pampanga.
The answer finally came in 1934, when a group of gold prospectors (led by Q. Abadilla, head of the Mines Division of the Office of Sciences), accompanied by a team of geologists and engineers (MM Frost, Goodyear, Broomell and Uewaki) climbed Mount Mananliwas in Floridablanca, a “fully preserved” location that was “well protected by the Aetas”. There they found at least 10 ancient tunnels, which confirmed their theory that earlier explorations, probably during Spanish colonial times, had been made in this part of Floridablanca. They made initial excavations at the same location, some reaching a depth of 250 feet, and by 1936 the Pampanga Gold Mines had been incorporated with the office address at 53 Iznart, Iloilo, Iloilo with the following members: Emilio Montilla of Iloilo (chairman council), Paciano Dizon of Manila (vice-chairman), CM Dizon of Porac, Eduardo Esteban of Negros Occidental, Rosario Santaromana of Iloilo and Jose Soriano of Negros Occidental. They had raised an initial capital of P500,000.00 (a huge amount at the time) and then issued an invitation to investors, saying that “this mine offers a great opportunity” and that “one engineer can be wrong, but three mining engineers or more making the same recommendation can’t be wrong.
During their return visits to Floridablanca, they identified and evaluated more promising tunnels which they named Mabical, Salangsang, Lubao, Angeles, Malugpuk, Lagnaya and Malati which “show a very visible vein 5 feet wide, resembling than that of the Antamok mine of the Benguet Consolidated Mining Co., and it is possible that there is a higher value than that of Antamok. They concluded that “on the basis of the similarity of the geology and the nature of the veins, the mine can be classified as the Benguet type. The geology of the terrain is favorable for profitable gold mining. It is advisable that explorations continue even in the rainy season. A mining engineer and geologist by the name of T. Uewaki has even added: “Due to its high future value, I would not let go of the said mine even for P850,000.00 if it was mine, and if I had the capital available to operate it”.
Their words sounded more like a marketing effort than an objective report, as the project failed, possibly due to the start of World War II and the insurrection that followed it. It is unclear why it never resumed, especially since the final report of the Philippine Engineering Corporation reported dated June 23, 1936, signed by Mr. Sutherland, clearly indicated that the explorations at Floridablanca yielded not only gold but also traces of silver. . This report is found in Prospecto de la Pampanga Gold Mines Inc. (1936), a copy of which was obtained by the HAU Center for Kapampangan Studies.
Today, the only minerals mined in Pampanga are non-metallic (clay, sand, gravel) since the surface soil of Pampanga is 54% sand, 21% silt and 25% clay (thanks to Pinatubo) . Government agencies mention on their online sites that gold and silver are (or have been) explored, mined and developed from the quartz-bearing porphyritic andesite at Sitio La Kalyusan, Pabanlag, Floridablanca, and that the copper is or has been explored at Pio and Planas, both at Porac. And then, of course, there are still fortune hunters digging for Yamashita gold in places around Pampanga. (Rogelio Domingo Roxas, purported discoverer of the legendary Golden Buddha in Baguio City, has stayed in Porac for the past few years, according to townspeople.)