DAET, CAMARINES NORTE – One of the identified reasons for the rampant use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is the lack of awareness of the dangers of its use, the unavailability of better technologies and techniques, limited opportunities to access finance, and shorter supply chains.
In a baseline study conducted by planetGOLD Philippines in 2021, the report recognized that government agencies are excellent sources of knowledge and support for ASGM communities. Despite this fact, government offices ranked third as a source of information for miners in Paracale, Camarines Norte. Fellow miners and family/friends/relatives serve as their primary source of information.
Recognizing the crucial role of local governments in the promotion of safer, cleaner, and more profitable ASGM in the province, planetGOLD Philippines conducted a two-day Communications and Media Relations Training for the Camarines Norte Provincial Information Office (PIO) on 6-7 June 2023 in Daet, Camarines Norte.
Attended by 40 staff from the Camarines Norte PIO, Radyo Pilipinas Camarines Norte, and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office-Camarines Norte (PDRRMO-CN), the training aims to enhance participants’ media and communication skills and guide them in building a narrative for their campaign supporting the ASGM sector in the province.
Camarines Norte Provincial Information Officer Dr. Sarah Marie Pante-Aviado officially opened the training and expressed her gratitude to the planetGOLD Philippines team for accommodating their request for the capacity-building activity. She also shared that the activity is proof of the strengthened partnership between the Project and the Provincial Government of Camarines Norte (PGCN).
Dr. Aviado also reminded the participants that the training is a great opportunity to learn new knowledge and skills and unlearn old practices that may not be applicable in modern times. "Nakikita ko sa ating lahat na may kanya-kanya tayong galing, ngunit kailangan pa nating hasain pa kung ano yung mayroon tayo. Dapat din tanggapin natin at some point na mayroon pa tayong hindi alam o mayroon tayong natutunan noon na kailangan nating alisin para matuto tayo ng panibago. Sana magpatuloy pa tayo sa pagkatuto." [I see that we all have our own talents, but we still need to hone what we have. We must also accept at some point that there is something we don’t know yet or something we learned before that we need to unlearn so we can learn something new. I hope we continue to learn.]
Following Dr. Aviado is planetGOLD Philippines National Project Manager Abigail Ocate who presented a detailed overview of the Project and updates on the conducted and planned activities of the Project in Camarines Norte.
The first day featured a series of presentations on the basics of communications, media and public relations; and workshops on communications planning, stakeholder mapping, and developing a basic communication strategy. These sessions were led by Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) Communications and Public Relations Manager Ryan Painter.
Throughout his session, Mr. Painter emphasized the importance of building trust and relationships with partners. “In order to disseminate information, you need one key thing first: relationships. You cannot get anything out unless you have good relationships.”
Communications Assistant Christine Alvarez of the planetGOLD Philippines then facilitated a World Café session to help identify the challenges on the existing communication platforms of the Camarines Norte PIO such as print, radio, social media, and other platforms. The activity also aimed to identify different strategies to address the gaps.
DZUP Assistant Program Director Rhyan Malandog led the second day of the training which focused on the basics of journalism, media, and media production. Workshops on press release writing and media interviews were also conducted.
At the start of his presentation, Mr. Malandog highlighted the importance of media in today’s society. “When we define media or journalists, sila yung nagsisilbing bridge para ma-disseminate yung information from government, non-government, or any organization, sa mas maraming tao.” [When we define media or journalists, they are the ones who serve as a bridge to disseminate information from government, non-government, or any organization, to more people.]
Before the end of the training, participants were asked for their feedback on the training. Mr. Estanislao “Jhun” Villaraza Jr. from the Camarines Norte PIO shared his main takeaway which is the importance of building relationships.
“Media work is all about building relationships and rapport. For that to happen, we need to have good character and start having good relationships with each other. Let us build trust among ourselves because that is what media work is.” Mr. Estanislao “Jhun” Villaraza Jr. from the Camarines Norte PIO
On the other hand, Radyo Pilipinas anchor Jennie Fria Balines emphasized the essence of having updated and timely knowledge, especially in the media industry.
“We have a lot of new learnings because of the two-day training. It is really a must for media practitioners to have updated knowledge from time to time. It is not enough to know something, we must know everything about our surroundings.” Jennie Fria Balines
Later on, special awards and prizes were given to the participants such as Best Press Release Writing, Best Interview, Best Performance, etc. Team Gold received the Best Communications Strategy award and won free communications coaching and consultation sessions from Mr. Painter. The coaching sessions aim to ensure that the planned activities in their communications strategy will be implemented with sustainability in mind.
The second day capped off with a closing message from planetGOLD Philippines National Project Manager Abigail Ocate who expressed her appreciation for the active participation of the attendees. She also hopes that there will be more partnership activities between planetGOLD Philippines and Camarines Norte PIO to help in the campaign for a safer, cleaner, and more profitable ASGM in the province.
The planetGOLD Philippines project is implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme, and United Nations Industrial Development Organization, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and executed by the Artisanal Gold Council.
For more updates about the activities of planetGOLD Philippines: